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Around the World Blog Hop

around the world blog hop logo

I’ve been following along in reading the blog posts of many of my fellow art quilters in the Around the World Blog Hop that’s been going on for the past several weeks. My good friend Elena Stokes invited me to join in the party by posting this week and answering some of the same questions about artistic process that the others have been answering. I feel honored to be asked, especially since I have not been actively making art for about a year now! More on that in just a bit.

Elena, on the other hand, has been really productive and has been getting her work out far and wide in the past couple of years. Including being accepted into Quilt National 2015 – on her first try! She also has two pieces travelling with SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) exhibits. “Tranquil Marsh – Wild Iris” has been travelling in the Seasonal Palette show. And more recently the SAQA exhibit, Celebrating Silver, opened at the International Quilt Festival 2014 in Houston. Elena’s piece for Celebrating Silver, “Moonshine”, is absolutely stunning and, not surprisingly, sold before Festival closed. Click HERE to see a video of Elena talking about her quilt and process at the Houston show.

And if you click HERE you can read Elena’s post in the Around the World Blog Hop and also link back to previous posts on the “hop”. I hope you will check out some of the other bloggers by clicking back through all the links.

Now for my turn….. 

I’m supposed to start by telling you what I’ve been working on lately. And what I’ve been working on lately is moving from a large house to a much smaller house. And that process has completely sidelined me from my studio work. As a matter of fact I can hardly even enter my studio these days, it’s so packed to the brim with moving boxes! Not an ideal situation.

Studio 2

Studio 3

Studio 1


 You might not think that a simple move could be so distracting and all-consuming, but I have been reminded that moving is not so “simple” after all and IS all-consuming, especially when you are forced to divest of more than half your possessions. Well…..  I said I wanted to streamline and downsize!

My last major project before embarking on the move was my piece “Chloros”, created especially for the SAQA travelling exhibit, “Radical Elements”. For this exhibit each artist was assigned an element from the periodic table and we were asked to “move quilting beyond the usual materials of fabric and thread, exploring the function and decorative properties of different surfaces and stitching materials”.

When the call for entries came out for Radical Elements it felt like a good fit for me, as I had been using alternative materials in my art quilts for a while, specifically credit cards and other plastic cards, like gift cards, hotel “keys”, etc. I had also been creating some things with craft wire using the technique of “looping” or knotless netting. I used both of those materials to create “Chloros” depicting my element of chlorine. You can click here and here and here to see some of my process in creating “Chloros”. I’ve done some other work using the plastic cards and it is a material that really grabbed my imagination and sent my mind into overdrive. Now that the Radical Elements exhibit has opened, as of last spring, I can show you an image of the finished piece.

Chloros blog
"Chloros" ©2013 Martha C. Hall, 36" X 22"

Here are a couple of other quilts that I've made utilizing credit cards.

Hall M HouseOfCards 1
"House of Cards" ©2009 Martha C. Hall, 29" X 40"

Hall M HouseofKings 2
"House of Kings" ©2012 Martha C. Hall, 18" X 18"

I collect some on my own cards, but at this point really rely on friends to supply me with enough raw materials! I know there are other artists out there using credit cards in their art, too. I don’t think the idea to use these alternative materials is exclusive to any one person, but I do think that every artist has their own unique version of HOW they use the material. I still embrace the use of fabric because it is what I have always loved doing, but I also embrace looking forward and trying out new and different ideas and materials.

I am getting “antsy” to get back in the studio and make art. With most of our day-to-day living spaces in the new house pretty well organized and livable I think I will be tackling the studio soon. In some ways I think the studio hiatus has allowed me time to think about what I want to do next, artistically. I’m not sure exactly where my art will head, but I think I’ve been given an opportunity to go in a new direction. Because I have been away from my art for so long, in a way it takes the pressure off and lets me start anew.

Wish me luck because I think I’m going to need it! If for nothing else than making sense out of that mess of boxes in the studio.

Remember to check out Elena's blog and to click back through the series to see how others work!

Until next time  ~  MCH

Pocket Full of Posies

Thanks to all the encouragement from last week's blog comments and from Facebook friends I finished my submission for the 25th Anniversary SAQA Trunk Show.

Last week I was gathering all the components. You can see that here.

Here's how the whole piece came together. Click on images for larger pictures.

Background quilted blog

 With my layers together, I first quilt the background.


Quilted detail blog

Quilting detail 


Outlines and stems blog

 After I've auditioned where the flowers will be placed, I satin stitch flower outlines and stems.


Leaves stitched down blog

Leaves are attached with a line of stitching down the center. 


Flowers attached blog

Now I attach the flowers by hand with invisible monofilament thread. 


Pocket Posies back stitchesblog

 Here's a look at the back with all the stitching - before I cover it with a false back. I know people like to see quilt backs, but I like to cover up that mess! To me -- it's not about the back. So here's your last peak.


Pocket Posies back blog

Here's the back of the finished piece. I printed it first with the pertinent information. The edge has a narrow 1/4" binding.


Pocket Posies front blog
ocket Full of Posies 10" x 7"  ©2014 Martha C. Hall
Mixed media textile collage

TA DA! The finished piece.

You might notice I don't watermark all my work. Honestly, you have to be insane to make this sh** and I don't think anyone else besides me is going to do it. And if you do, well.... good luck. I'm already on to the next idea.

If you like to Pin, that's cool. Please give me artist's credit and link back to my website. Thanks!

Oh, and it's Off The Wall Friday - so check out all the doings over at Nina Marie's!

Now to pack this up and mail it to SAQA before the deadline!

Until next time -




Oh, What a Tangled Web I Weave

It’s hard to blog very often if 1.) you are working on a top-secret project that you’re not supposed to really show too much of, 2.) you aren’t working on much of anything, 3.) you get too sick to get out of bed, much less get into the studio or to the computer, or 4.) you can’t make a decision on what comes next.


Work on SAQA’s Radical Elements feels like the Lost Weekend, except it was more like two months. We aren’t supposed to show anything more than snippets of our work until the show opens, which isn’t until April 2014. That piece was shipped off to SAQA at the end of September and it almost feels like something I never did, a black hole. I’m hoping my excitement for that project gets rekindled once the whole show premiers in April.

Winter Nest Hilltop 2013 blogWinter Nest, 5" x 7" framed to 8" x 10"  ©2013 Martha C. Hall
his small textile collage sold at Hilltop. Click image to enlarge.

I did have work in the local Hilltop School Exhibit and Sale last weekend. Those were my smaller, framed Birds & Nests textile collages and also a selection of Birthstone Jewels. Two of the pieces sold, which made me happy. Of course, more sales would have been better! But I do enjoy participating in the Hilltop Show and having some kind of art out in the world provides a bright note.


In the midst of all that I got laid low by what I guess was a common cold, except it felt much worse than “common”. Two solid weeks of basically doing nothing except lying in my recliner, reading, coughing, aching, sleeping, and trying to feel better.

Being sick did a real number on my artist’s head. I felt ready to throw in the towel. Not only could I not work on anything, I started thinking that I’d give it all up for good. I’m pretty sure that was my sickly, addled mind at work. Many artists know the feeling in the best of times of “why am I even doing this?” and “what’s the point?” and “everything I make is crap” etc. etc. etc. Combine that with a miserable feeling body and no motivation and the whole thing devolves into total negativity.


Though I wasn’t making art, that didn’t stop me from thinking. So I guess I could blog about my thought process when I don’t have work in progress to show. I’ve been thinking about my next steps in art making. I have too many ideas and get distracted by the notion of doing it all. But that goes against the advice of creating a “style” or a “body of work”. I fight that advice all the time even though I know it’s right. At least it’s “right” if you really want to progress in the quilt art world.

So I have to pick one path to follow, at least for now. Mark says, “finish that blue one that’s up on the design wall”. I abandoned it about six months ago, probably for some other grand idea. The work is about a third to half done and it’s probably worthy of completion. Then there’s a whole list of ideas for my credit card quilts. Oh! and then! another idea came to me. So I started puttering around with that. And I’m not really sure if it’s a good idea or a dorky idea, but there is something about it that appeals to me.


On top of all that the thought of moving house is coming to a crescendo. We’ve talked about it ad nauseum. Probably no one even believes us anymore. But everything I do lately is backed by some ulterior motive of selling our big house and downsizing. Today I went and bought paint samples. Whew! Talk about distractions! I know from doing a big move 16 years ago what a time consuming process it is. And at that time we were moving bigger and I didn’t have to unload half our belongings. Now I just look around me a wonder what I’m going to do with all this “stuff”.

These are all the thoughts my mind is spinning into a tangled web. And it leaves me confused and unproductive. I know about the advice to narrow my focus in order to accomplish more and better work. Setting limits can free you to be more productive. I’m beginning to accept that advice and leaning toward my work of choice. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the credit cards……

Maybe after I finish that blue quilt ……. Or paint the powder room…….

Yours, in Indecision –

P.S. I'm feeling much better now. Thanks for asking!

Building a Bird

Here is a basic "time lapse" of my process for constucting a textile collage.

Goldfinch process 1

Select fabrics, cut randomly, and lay in a background 

Goldfinch process 2

 The main color blocks of the bird are fused onto parchment. Previewing the placement of bird onto background.

Goldfinch process 3

 Overlay of tracing paper to sketch in the tree.

Goldfinch process 4

 I've committed to the background and fused it down. Previewing the tree placement.

Goldfinch process 5

I pulled away some of the green at the center so it won't show through the bird later. 

Goldfinch process 6

 Quilt the background layer.

Goldfinch process 7

More quilting, with rusty/orange thread.

Goldfinch process 8

 Lay in the tree again.

Goldfinch process 9

 Check the tree placement with the bird.

Goldfinch process 10

 Fuse and quilt the tree.

Goldfinch process 11

 Tree needs foliage. Looked out the window at the autumn colors for inspiration.

Goldfinch process 12

 Goldfinch is ready to perch and stitching is started.

Goldfinch process 13

Another branch is needed in the upper right. Can you see the difference? 

Goldfinch process 14

 Continue stitching on bird including a little sparkle in his eye.

Goldfinch process 15

Satin stitch edging to finish. Click on final picture to enlarge and see details.

And that is how I build a bird!

Until next time --

Ducks In A Row

I clipped a quote from Seth Godin at one time and pinned it up on my studio board. It advised along the lines of -- “stop putting all your ducks in a row and do something with the ducks.”

I’ve been doing online research for my Radical Elements project – researching chlorine 

Chlorine symbolwhich is the element I’m depicting. I’ve also been looking up maps and printable maps because that is part of the concept for my Radical Elements “quilt”.

I’ve also been creating lots of sample wire elements in the studio, getting some ideas for how I can use them in the Radical Elements piece.

I haven’t figured the whole thing out yet, but I do have some fairly clear ideas about the direction I’m taking. Part of my concept will require building one of my layers on this board so, of course, I needed to cut and paint the board.


Radical Elements board1


Building a “quilt” on a board may sound strange, but his project and exhibit are meant to be RADICAL!!! This will definitely not be your grandmother’s quilt!

So, you see, I’ve been getting my ducks in a row and now it is time to do something with the ducks.


Until next time -


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