Archive for the ‘Great Quilters’ Category

A Summer School Gift for You

Sunday, August 18th, 2013
color outside the wheel.indd_Page_01

Color Outside the Wheel An Ebook for you!

We’ve had a great week. I hope you’ve learned some great new ways to approach color, past picking the colors off the wheel. I need to thank Caryl Bryer Fallert, Kathy Weaver, and Susan Shie for letting me explore colors in their magificent work.

french toast

French Toast, Susan Shie

Robo Sapien Agent 4

Robo Sapien Agent 4 Kathy Weaver

Feather Study 1 by Caryl Bryer Fallert

Feather Study 1 by Caryl Bryer Faller

 I need to thank Monique, Kleinhans, Rebecca Dorian Brown, Lauren Strach, Joan Davis, and Roberta Hoover Ranney for letting me put them in places of honor on the refrigerator gallery.


I have the answers to your tests here. Not that that matters. The real test is, does this change how you think? What you choose? And that’s as much a test for me as for you. But here’s your answers.

Color cast is
C. whether colors lean towards the sun or the shade.

2. The color wheel is
C. a map of color relationships.

3. Differences in value
A. help us sort things visually 

4. We all recognize the same color names
B. False

5. Color temperature is about
 C. Both

6. Color theory works the same for mixing colors as picking colors.
B. False
7. All blues are the same.
 B. False

8. Everyone sees color the same way
 B. False

9. Differences in hues are
 B. differences in light and dark

10. Contrast
C. Pops out the figure from the ground

11. You should never use a color your hate.
 B. False

12. Color theory is
 B. A theory that works up to a point. C. 

color outside the wheel.indd_Page_01As a gift to my students. I’ve packaged up this class in an ebook you can enjoy and work with at home. Thanks for being such good students. And go color off the wheel. You can download it at or click the picture for a link.

Next week I’m exploring the new box of Inn Fuse that Innovative Craft sent me so I can do a demo for them. And, of course, for you

Thread MagicSummer School: Color Mixing vs. Color Picking

Friday, August 16th, 2013

672 Willow lEven though we’ve been looking at dyers and painters, we’ve been exploring color combinations. We’ve learned that the most exciting combinations offer us contrasts either in hue, tone, temperature or cast. Those contrasts help define our figure and separate it from the background. That separation gives the mind and the eye a way into a composition, a way to make immediate visual sense of what is going on.

All that falls to the ground when we start mixing colors.

 dye cupswI’ve always let the dye houses mix my colors for me. They do a much better job, and I’m constitutionally the right person to do it. It would assume I could measure something. That hasn’t happened since 1969.

But once you put one dye color on top of another color, you’ve mixed them, planned or not. And that same excitement that happens with contrasts in color combinations is instantly blended into a brown of some sort.

I know a lot of unhappy dyers. Unless you really like brown, this is a downer.


color picking

Picking primaries


Mixing from Primaries

Mixing from Primaries




Willow is an example of a great deal of purposeful mud. I love the browns in her, and dyed them largely from complements.



759 Blossoms in Moonlight detailThread Color is about picking rather than mixing. So the color choice rules apply. Brown is enriched in this bunny with greens,burgundies, teals, oranges, purples and olive greens, all complements but separate because each is a separate thread. The eye blends them in your mind, but their separation holds the colors true and bright.

Ellen Anne Eddy's Dye Day Workbook cover front for web tnIf you want more information about color mixing you’ll find it in my book




Dye Day Workbook, available in print on or on my web site.

It’s available as an PDF on my Etsy store Raid My Fabric Stash


 joans refrigerator

On our Refrigerator today, we have Joan Davis, an amazing Hawaiian quilter who’s work reflects the beauty of the island. You’ll find more of her amazing work on her facebook page at






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This is our last day of Thread Magic Summer School. Tomorrow there will be a test. It is only a test.

I do think it’s fun at least to measure what you’ve gotten out of it all.

Sunday I hope to have a little gift for you for coming to summer school and making it fun.



Thread Magic Summer School: Contrasts in Color Cast

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Our Color Master today is Susan Shie

Twilight Time

Twilight Time

Color cast is one of the hardest things to talk about. We’ve defined cool and warm colors. But color cast can be warm or cool on any hue. Up until now, we have looked at the color through a hypothesis of color theory. It’s a valuable tool, but it is just a theory. At a certain point it has to bend a bit to fit reality. We are assuming a perfection that doesn’t exist except in theory.

If we mix perfect primaries, it should give us clear colors. Experience tells us something different. You can mix yellow and blue and get brown. The colors are not perfect and can lean a little either to the sun or the shade. This is not about being a cool or warm color. It’s a color cast. When you look at a color, ask yourself if it is most like the color to the right or the left of it on the color wheel. If the color is more like the one to the right it leans towards the sun. If it’s more like the one to the left, it leans towards the shade. You can mix sun colors only or shade colors and be sure of clear hues. If you mix sun and shade, then you get earth. If the color has brown already in it, it’s an earth color and anything you mix with it will create more earthy color,

But when we’re chosing color as opposed to mixing color, it gives us the same kind of contrasts in temperature cool and warm colors give us.

Susan is the master of the airbrush and the story. Most of her quilts have long and delightful stories written into the art itself. Make your’self some reading time and you’ll feel like you sat for a day in her kitchen drinking tea and hearing all about the family. 

But she’s a master colorist too. She knows how to accentuate her images against all of that swirling design and she does it with a change in color cast.

spot the station six of cupsHere’s a color breakdown of how she does that.

Here’s a chart from Big Huge Labs of her color choices.

spot the station chart









I’ve separated out her sun colors from her shade colors.The major im

spot the station barages are in sun colors. Everything else is in shade colors.

The thermal shock from thse choices make her images glow off the background. Like everything else about Susan, it’s simply brilliant and brilliantly simple.

Here’s some more of her fabulous work. See how she uses color cast to accentuate and separate her field and ground.

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Susan’s amazing work can be seen on her site at Turtle Moon Studio.

tarot deckThe images we used of hers today are from the minor arcana of her tarot deck.The Major arcana is currently  available at








roberta refrigeratorOn our refrigerator today we have work by Roberta Ranney. Roberta’s work. Roberta’s work echos her life in Springfield, MO with  an engaging imaginiation all her own. Look into Roberta’s engaging world at her blog site at












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Thread Magic Summer School: The Magic of Contrasts

Monday, August 12th, 2013

bradford fantasy 1Our color masterist today is Caryl Bryer Fallert.

What all art creates is a series of contrasts, in some form or another. Color theory is one way of describing those colors. We joke about plain white canvases being art because we know  that even as an art joke there’s no drama there. The ability of art to change how we think, how we feel, how we live is the point of it all. Good art changes the world. But to do that it has to demand our attention. It does that by emphasising contrasts.

We can build contrasts in a number of ways. Color is only one. We also have contrast in value, in saturation, in size, in color cast and temperature. All of those scales give us a way to separate the elements of our work. The most important separation is between field and ground.

color wheel  pattern 3When we look at the color wheel we have the map of how colors (Hues) relate to each other. The closer they are to each other the less tension there is between them. The further they are, the more tension and the more potential excitement a combination has.The colors farthest away from each other are called complements. They’re the electric voltage to most art, and they’re what we’ll look at today.

Perhaps the finest quilt color master of our time, Caryl Bryer Fallert is a master dyer and quilter. She has a gift for astonishing color, that usually encompasses the whole color wheel. All those complements at once are electric. The tones and the saturation on these colors are relatively even. All of the drama is in the change of the hues, the colors themselves. And she’s always dyed her own fabric.

These pieces romp through the whole color wheel. Doing that they place all the complements against each other. This is a winning combination, visually and at shows because it always grabs  attention.

Once we start picking and choosing colors off the wheel, the complements still s are the king combinations of these. If we are a little more aware, we can catch a bit of the feeling we get off them. We like them because they offer strong visual stimulation.

Here’s some of Caryl’s work that encompasses complementary combinations

We can also take an arc of the color wheel and focus on that. Those are analogous colors. Here are some amazing pieces of Caryl’s focused in the blue/green arc.

Caryl’s astonishing work can be seen on her web site at, at her studio in Paducah, KY and in art collections and museums across the country. Make sure you see the amazing body of work she’s continued to graced us with.

We’re used to thinking about color strictly as hue. But tomorrow will look at differences in saturation and how they make it easier to separate field and ground, background and forground.

rebecca refrigerator 4On the refrigerator today we have Rebecca Dorian Brown, the creator of Dreaming Girl Highway. Rebecca is also a master colorist and she let me put up these lovely images. Dreaming girl is a series of 78 images out of her life and time set in a deck of Inner Vision Cards. Her media is computer driven and she is a master at generating depth and drama out of pixels and vectors.

Rebecca’s amazing cards are available on her web site at Make them your visual snack on your way past the refrigerator.

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Would you like to be on the refrigerator too? Send me several quilts and your contact/web  information at

Gift and a Wish: A New Video

Saturday, December 29th, 2012


Did you know that there are twelve days of Christmas? Then it becomes Epiphany. the season of the wise men. So with that in mind, it’s not too late to offer a Christmas gift or to offer a New Year’s wish.

Every winter I try to learn something new. One year it was about roses, one year Elizabeth the 1st. I seem to be learning how to write a novel now. But that’s almost like hatching an egg. You can’t  open it up and check and hurry it along. It’s a slow process that jumps and starts and is currently making me crazy. I’ll tell you more when I know.

But my other thing to learn this year is videos. One of the things I often get asked is if I have a video up on Youtube on one subject or another. 

I have some.  I love them too. You can learn a lot or waste endless time depending on how you view these things. The last person who asked me for a Youtube was one on the stitch vocabulary. Rebecca Kessler, this is for you. It’s the stitch vocabulary. It’s about how you move your hands, heart and head to do free motion. Cathy Miller, The Singing Quilter, let me use her great song “You Can Quilt that Out.”

So my gift to you at the end of this year is a little bit more of information hopefully where you can find and use it. My wish for myself is to become more able with the technology, and to have more cool things to pass to you. My wish for you is that the world be full of all kinds of passions and pathways for you to travel, explore and share, for really what we do is enrich each other.

 You’ll find this and other tutorials on my site and on youtube.

I’m hoping you’ll let me know how you like these. Miller’s delightful songs are available on her site at and on Amazon.

Mary Jo Bower: A Color Riot

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012


Red River Valley

I met Mary Jo when I first came to Chicago in 1979.  I went to work at Vogue Fabric in Evanston, perhaps the best fabric education available at the time. Part of that was getting to see the stream of astonishing fabric people, artists, designers,quilters, seamstresses and creative souls. Mary Jo was one of the best of those. I’ve watched her art bloom into a full color riot. Here’s what she says about her own work.

For Amber Waves of Grain

“As an artist working with color in fabric, paper and threads, my goal is a vibrant, animated and vigorous art wall quilt.  My medium challenges me to translate into a nonverbal art quilt the power of my soul.  I use bold colors, shapes and dimensions using artist dyed and commercial over-dyed fabrics and scraps from various places including sari and upholstery shops, thrift stores and used garments.


I work from an idea, a photo, a Gentle Curvespainting or a scene that captures my imagination and creates a mental image to represent some aspect of the inspiring theme. I lay out all the fabrics that may or may not work with the theme; e.g., green for the fields or maybe red for the fields. The goal of each piece is an abstraction so colors need not represent reality. Freeform organic images are randomly cut and grouped on the design board until they begin to express the mood I am seeking. I continue to work intuitively allowing each piece to determine its own path and direction. Each wall quilt has at least three layers; the pieced top that is layered with many pieces, the batting which  gives the quilt  shape, direction and contours when embroidered and  quilted;  the backing which completes the art quilt.  My work is being influenced by traveling, distressed buildings and barns that have weathered the times, and destruction wrought by wars.”


Morning Song

Her work bursts with wild lunatic energy. Mary Jo  is a maniac riding a color wave. And I love it.

You’ll find Mary Jo’s work on her site at 

Facebook page at

 Pictures at Pinterest

Lyn Ennis: A Lunatic’s Transition from Mosaic Art to Thread Work

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I love it when I get to watch an established artist change gears. It’s as if you gave them a new tool box and then watched them fly through a new vocabulary.

When I met Lyn, she was an already lionized mosaic artist. Her work was inventive, wild and full of nature and imagination. She was an established feature on the craft circuit in the pacific northwest.

 She took all that energy and vision and transferred it into thread work. Her work is incendiary.







Here’s what she has to say about the translation between mosaic and fiber.

“I have an innate need to create, and in doing so I hope to inspire and delight the senses of the viewer. I have tried many art mediums to do this but I always come back to fabric and threads. I also have a love and fascination with puzzles, which also shows, in my mosaics and my quilts. Because after all they are both like putting a puzzle together, except I can cut the pieces to fit!!!

   This is one of my mosaic pieces, “Spilt Fruit”, and you can see the influence of quilting in this one in a very obvious way! But you can also see how much mosaicing is like quilting. You have a bunch of small pieces that you want to make a picture with. The difference is in the medium only. Both are cut to size and attached where they belong. 

   The moment I saw Ellen Anne Eddy’s work I knew that her use of thread was just the venue I had been looking for. After a couple of workshops with her, I begin to develop my own style and I am still working on it!

   I have done a lot of appliqué quilting and once I started adding the thread to bring out the designs of each piece, they came to life. Nature is what I like to depict in my pieces and with the aid of my camera I have been able to do this.”





I am so awed by Lyn’s work, both mosaic and thread.  It’s a celebration of personal vision mingled well with hard won skill and a dash of serious talent. 

You’ll find more of her work on her blog at

Her quilt Waves of Amber and Gold is being featured currently on My Quilt Space is a open gallery put up by AQS that displays great quilts of all kinds


Roberta Hoovery Ranney: Wild Things Come in Hand Dyed Packages

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

 One of the things about teaching quilting that is always true is that students don’t stay students. You turn around and they’re wildly accomplished quilters doing work that makes your heart flutter. Sometimes that happens right in class. Sometimes they’re already there when they arrive. Quilting isn’t exactly hierarchical. We quickly learn just how much other people know.

I met Roberta in a class in Missouri, years ago. She was a student there, but well onto the mastery of her own work.She also produces some of the loveliest images of  the Missouri Ozarks in thread.


“Coon” is one of her pieces I chose for my Beautiful Beast lecture. We fight wars with raccoons where I live, and I’ve had to evict them from the studio several times. But her thread work makes this little thief appealing enough to want him in my garden.

“Return to Eden ” features lovely caladiums and hostas.

She’s also a hand dyed fabric addict.Here’s what she has to to say about “Bright Eyes” her stunning owl piece.

“After searching for a good background, I came upon my last piece of fabric that I bought from Ellen Anne Eddy six years ago.  And it was perfect.  Then I looked back through my gallery of quilts and realized my favorite work had been done with her fabrics as background.  So I am now watching daily for a new box containing many yards of her fabric.  I feel like a kid waiting for her first bicycle!”

  I just sent Roberta a huge box of handdyed fabric for her collection. Who knows what she’ll make next. If we’re lucky she’ll show us. She’s a quiet lunatic on the fringe for sure.

Roberta lives in Springfield, MO. On her blog she says this about herself.

“I live in southwest Missouri, work and play with fabric and thread, read lots of books, laugh a lot, cry a little,  and raise my blood pressure by reading the opinion section of the newspaper.”

Her work is available for sale at the Waverly House Gallery

in Springfield. Her blog is at

 My mother always knew I’d come to no good. Here  I am feeding people’s addictions.  Who knew we’d grow up to be fabric junkies? 

Do you want a stash of hand-dyed Ellen Anne Eddy fabric? Ask Ellen to send you a box of fabric to pick through.

Classes at the National Quilt Museum

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Source: via Ellen Anne on Pinterest

There’s two really great things about quilt classes at the National Quilt Museum. One is that it’s the National Quilt Museum and the people who come to class here are spectacular. The other is that it’s the National Quilt Museum, which is the epicenter of support, information, and exposure for quilters and especially art quilters. Don’t think you won’t see spectacular traditional quilts. You will. But the art quilts there are of a caliber that makes my heart sing. It’s a bit of quilt heaven in every way.

I taught a three day class here that made my heart sing too. Astonishing students! We worked mostly on flower studies out of my new book Thread Magic Garden. But what they came up with was their very own.


Top it off with a lunch at Caryl Bryer Fallert’s Bryer Patch Studio.Caryl is a quilting legend whose work has revolutionized the quilt world for 30 years.  Caryl graciously had us all to lunch and showed off her latest work and her fabulous Paducah studio.


Here are some images from class. If you’d like to see more, check my facebook page at Thread Magic Studio.

What a class like this does is really build all kinds of skills. The luxury of three days in class (and a late evening session) means that people get to refine what they’re learning into what they do.

From my point of view, I’m still bending my head around the notion that these people have a quilt of mine in the museum. It’s still a moment standing in front of Dancing in the Light in a museum setting and saying, “Yep. That one’s mine. I’m still looking for the other Ellen Eddy who must have quilted it.

So support the National Quilt Museum either by visiting or by becoming a friend of the museum. Take lovely 3 day classes when you get the chance to really dive into a new technique with a teacher.  And celebrate this brave new world where we have real museums that support, preserve, show and educate quilters as the artists we know that we are.

You’ll find  information about the National Quilt Museum on their web site at

You’ll find more information about Caryl Bryer Fallert on her web site at

You’ll find the gallery pictures on my face book page at If you’re from class and you want to tell more about those pictures, log in and you can!

Pat Jones: Mountain Fringe Girl

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012



I met Pat Jones at the Mountain Laurel Guild in Georgia. The whole guild was full of wild gardeners and astonishing fiber artists. Pat fits right in. She lives in a cabin up the mountain where birds sing to her right off her porch, looking down the gorge. It’s another world.

Pat tells me I gave her permission in my first book to try things. And she has. She’s this quiet and very proper southern gal doing wonderfully wild things with her thread and fabric.

She took my flower class, and being a master gardener herself, she build one incredible flower garden.

Here’s what she had to say about it.

“First, THANK YOU for your visit with us in June.  We were ALL blown away by your work!  What inspiration!  As a result, I had to put all the work I was in the middle of aside and try your techniques.  This is my first attempt, and I plan to do MANY more!  I have a long way to go….got to learn to be FREE!  What a joy you are and your work is gorgeous, on top of that, your teaching is so excellent that it makes us feel confident that we can try it. 
The pink flowers in the wall hanging were stitched onto a felt background then stitched on the background fabric sandwich.  That made them raised a little and I really like the effect.  The center of the flowers is all thread stitched onto Ultra Solvy then applied.  The butterfly is, of course, Angelina.  The wisteria is made of tubes of hand painted organza and silk. 
This past Tuesday was guild and it made a splash with the girls!!!”
There’s no way to know where she’ll go next with her work, but she’s unstoppable. I can’t wait to see.

Mary Annis: Moms, Other Moms and Language Confusion

Monday, May 14th, 2012


Feathered Persian



I had an odd childhood. Most of it was after my thirties, so I’m still quite young, actually. Margaret Eddy, my birth mother was a school teacher who really didn’t know what you did with children if you didn’t have a desk between them and you. We figured that out before she and I came to major blows.  I was an only child so she had no earlier practice. So my childhood with my mother consisted of lessons. Piano lessons. Poetry readings. Diagramming sentences. Homework. Odd histories. Writing. Art history. Musicals. Singing music from musicals. And a tendency to try to make money out of the very odd crafts I insisted on doing. She managed practicalities fairly well. I was fed and washed as cleanly as any child with a passion for mud pies can be.

But my other mother taught me the important things.

No, I wasn’t adopted. But I had a neighbor lady who took me in. 


Mary Annis moved next store when I was eight. She lived in Mrs. Zilm’s crazy huge old house with four children, one who was my age. And she just folded me in.


Mary was the original lunatic fringe.It was like visiting OZ. In Mary’s house, people made messes. Out of art. They were late. They didn’t answer phones. Oddly enough they also didn’t care about food, because no one really cooked. I spent days tucked in making doll clothes, embroidering pillow cases, melting crayons, and making my real mother insane. It was perfect. Mary even had a cat who attacked my mother through the ferns when Margaret came to get me. It was wonderful!

An odd thing happened. As an adult, I know how adults just take their children’s friends wherever they’re going. But I had a taste for crafts and antiques her children didn’t share. We bonded over a million craft projects and piles of fabric. Somewhere she became more than my friend’s mom, and more than a neighbor. Words fail me.  Mother comes close. Friend comes closer, but an adult’s friendship with a child is a different friendship. If I wanted mothering, God knows she was a much better at it than my mother.  She was also my champion. She fought my mother for crucial things for me: art lessons, my first cat, space to create. Her fights with Margaret always made me want to head under the couch. She took them on clear eyed and gladly, and Margaret never had a chance. She made my childhood sane.

Why did she do that? I can only guess. She knew it was needful. And a woman who knows that the phone doesn’t need to be answered, also knows what really does.

Mary Shirley Annis

Mary was my friend past my childhood, all my life. I dedicated each of my books to her, for, in truth, they couldn’t have happened without her.  My art wouldn’t have happened without her. Was she my friend? My mother? Words fail us often and they fail us here. I only know she lit my corner of the world and coaxed me out.

Mary Annis passed away on May 8th. For her, I’m sure it’s a graduation, a celebration, a feast of joy to be home. We’ll celebrate her life at a memorial this coming Saturday. I intend to celebrate her life every day, as I live surrounded by her love, working on the art she only understood, with odd children running in and out my door.

You’ll find Mary Annis’s tribute by her daughter Barbara Gail Simons here. There are notes from Betsy and Chuck, her other surviving children, as well.

You’ll find a loving blog of Mary’s life in Indianapolis written by her daughter Betsy Fladung here.

I wrote another blog about Mary called The Mentor Waltz. I hope you find other mothers everywhere, because, God knows, we need them.

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