Quilt Japan

Constellation Beyond Time and Space by Yoko Kageyama

Constellation Beyond Time and Space by Yoko Kageyama

Isn’t this gorgeous?

The colouring is magnificent and the repetitive design in both large and small is very effective.

If I had piles of money I would like to go to Quilt Japan – but until then I will have to enjoy looking at pix or going to the National Quilt Museum to see selected quilts.

Ann Johnston at the Columbia FiberArts Guild

Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away …. no, that’s not right, I mean here in Portland, OR – in April. Ann Johnston – one of my heroes, gave a lecture to the Columbia FiberArts Guild and then offered a 3-day workshop afterward.

Hand dyed fabric from Ann Johnston

Hand dyed fabric from Ann Johnston

Hand dyed fabric from Jill Hoddick

Hand dyed fabric from Jill Hoddick

What a fascinating ride Ann has been on. For many years she’s worked with dyed and painted fabric – produced in her own studio. Her book – Color by Accident, was my bible. My Virginia kitchen was filled with ziplock bags of fabulous coloured muslin, silks and sometimes even velvet cloth. Rows of curing yardage spread out on the kitchen table – while my husband was away flying planes, or putting up cellular towers in strange places around the world.

Since then, we have left our Virginia house, where I had the free run of the kitchen for my dyeing projects. We were beginning an 8 year wander, from Virginia to Florida to end up in Portland, Oregon.

My dyeing equipment sold, but I kept all the fabric and schlepped the boxes around from home to home. I still made quilts but surface design and dyeing was off the books.

Now we are settled here in the NorthWest, we have finally decided to buy a home again.

I am thinking…….. maybe I could start dyeing my fabric again?

And if I do, I’ll be following Ann’s books and now her DVD.

Using Pledge to stiffen beadwork

Jean Campbell's tutorial on how to stiffen beadwork

Jean Campbell’s tutorial on how to stiffen beadwork

I am working on a complicated piece with rather floppy components. In the back of my mind there was a vague idea of a method to stiffen these pieces. With a bit of research I discovered a useful tutorial from Jean Campbell of Beading Daily – how to stiffen your beadwork tutorial.

Now I have a vast bottle of Pledge sitting in the middle of my bead studio!

It does work……….

Versailles Cuff – beaded bracelet designed by Melanie Potter

Versailles Cuff - beaded bracelet designed by Melanie Potter

Versailles Cuff – beaded bracelet designed by Melanie Potter

Such pretty colours! This is a gorgeous bracelet designed by Melanie Potter. I took a class with her when she visited the Portland Bead Society back in October 2015.

I really wanted to finish this because…… well, I wanted to wear it!

Very detailed and time consuming but just beautiful. The clasp is pretty interesting – a real fiddle to put together. It might help to have someone else put the bracelet on for you but I have found a way to do it myself.

The cuff is made with seed beads, delicas, Swarovski crystals and pearls.

This is the back:

Versailles Cuff back

Versailles Cuff back

And this is what it looks like laid out flat:

Versailles Cuff laid out open

Versailles Cuff laid out open

Bracken – fractal quilt

Bracken - fractal quilt by Rose Rushbrooke. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

Bracken – fractal quilt by Rose Rushbrooke

Bracken was created for an exhibition, and book authored by Donna deSoto – Inspired by National Parks.

I chose the North Cascades park which is filled with bracken – a type of fern. A fern is a natural fractal. The colours are extracted from a photo.

The piece is 20″ square, hand stitched using both hand dyed and commercially printed cotton fabrics.

Bracken - close up of fractal quilt by Rose Rushbrooke. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

Close up of Bracken

Bracken - detail of fractal quilt by Rose Rushbrooke. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

Detail showing quilt stitches

A book is available with pictures of all the quilts. The quilts are travelling around the USA as a touring exhibition at various venues.

Portland Bead Society Bead Retreat


It sounds like something whistling or even screaming? OK. I’m just going to lay here, in the dark, and think about it before I start creeping around the hotel room as though in a horror movie.

Phew. It’s the wind pushing through the hotel room door.

Tolovanna Inn, Cannon Beach, Oregon

Tolovanna Inn, Cannon Beach, Oregon

For the 3 days we stayed at the Tolovanna Inn at Cannon Beach it rained, and stormed. Exactly what’s supposed to happen in the winter on the Pacific NorthWest coast. Magnificent. And really, really weird at night time…….

Having sent in my registration, and completely forgotten to include a check, I was looking forward to the famous PBS bead retreat. Luckily our organiser took it in stride and just laughed when I emailed my ‘excuse me, I’m an idiot’ note. And I got to go.

Yes, of course I paid.

My husband came with me and spent each day fishing. He fell in every river, even washing downstream at one point. He had a blast and got very wet. Oh, and no fish were harmed.

And so did I – have a blast, not get very wet.

This is probably one of the best organised retreats I’ve ever been to. Everything laid on – catered breakfast and lunch. Thank you so much to the 2 Englishwoman, along with their colleagues, who ran around feeding us, .

They both came from Manchester in the UK and were born in the same hospital. Not on the same day….. Then they worked for the same catering firm in America. How serendipitous is that?

English breakfast WITH black pudding

English breakfast WITH black pudding, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms – close to what we had for our Sunday brunch

When I exclaimed the brunch on Sunday was brilliant – almost like an English breakfast, one of the woman laughed and remarked grilled mushrooms and a tomato would really complete the meal. She knew what she was talking about. The only other thing missing was a couple of slices of black pudding.

This time around we had several workshops to choose from. Virginia Blakelock of BeadCats was teaching a bracelet pattern she’d designed especially for the retreat – ‘March at the Beach’.

Sadly I didn’t get to take the class as by the time I ambled up to the registration desk the sign up sheet was long filled, with a waitlist. But I did get a kit, which is stunning (the kit, not that I got one!). And I was able to sign up for a couple of other classes which looked interesting.

Fafnir's Tail bracelet designed by Darlene Fordyce

Fafnir’s Tail bracelet designed by Darlene Fordyce

First was the Fafnir’s Tail bracelet from Darlene Fordyce. Darlene hadn’t found a clasp she liked so it was up to us to design something. Magically Bello Modo had an excellent selection of buttons and bingo, bango, there was my fastening. Lovely finished piece.

Zulu bracelet

Zulu bracelet

Karmen Scmidt taught us a Zulu bracelet. We brought our own beads for this. The button I had intended using for a clasp had a broken shank. Poo! So I used a back up which wasn’t quite as nice. The bracelet still came out very prettily.

Imagine that – two finished pieces. Pretty darn good for a weekend’s work.

And what’s with the clasps…..? Bad clasp day?

AND, we had a retreat challenge – the Margaret M Scovil Bead challenge. This was bitter sweet. Margaret, who sadly I never met, died shortly before the retreat so wasn’t able to see our work.

Blue Segment by Vassily Kandinsky

For 2016 the challenge was to make a wearable piece inspired by the painting Blue Segment by Kandinski.


Took me a long time to be inspired…….. Eventually I decided to go weird, after all, I do live in Portland, Oregon.

Q. What has segments? A. An orange.

So I made a necklace of orange slices, orange flowers and leaves. See if you can find the ‘blue segment’?

Orange You Blue necklace

Orange You Blue necklace


Here are our four winners: Maxi Starr, Teresa Shelton, Karie Heib, and Cherie Calwart. I wish I’d taken pictures of the pieces they made. Stunning. Every one of them was imaginative, thoughtful and beautifully made.

Bead Challenge Winners

Bead Challenge Winners

Teresa sat next to me during the day and was a wonderful companion. She helped me with the ‘March at the Beach’ bracelet, put in a bid for me at Bead Bingo (she won a book for me!!!!), and was just a delight.

Karie is a remote member – she is living in Chicago right now but her heart is with the Portland Bead Society. I get to see her at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, WI. Also a top notch beadweaver and designer.

Maxi Starr – well, I have no words. She does magnificent work, she has a standard poodle companion named Katie. Katie came to the bead retreat and visited all of us. Just another reason to love standard poodles and Maxi.

Guess what? I’m so seriously going to next year’s retreat. CHECK ALREADY WRITTEN.

Fafnir’s Tail bracelet

Fafnir's Tail bracelet

This bracelet was made during the Portland Bead Society’s annual bead retreat in Cannon Beach, OR. Darlene Fordyce taught the workshop. This is a clever right angle weave design with the middle row of dagger beads set in the opposite direction to the two outside beads. When the bracelet is fastened the ‘dragon scales’ lift up and create a pleasing effect.

Much knashing of teeth went into the making of this – sometimes a pattern comes quickly and begins to make sense early. Other times, such as this, my brain goes into meltdown mode and it doesn’t matter how many times I repeat the section it won’t stick.

Fafnir's tail bracelet open

The button was a fortuitous find and works perfectly with the colour of the beads.