Last Friday we had the pleasure of visiting with textile artist Bernie Rowell at her studio in Candler, NC. Bernie has been a member of the SHCG since 1975. She creates art quilts from painted canvas, building layers of highly textural collage. She will be demonstrating at the Folk Art Center during Fiber Weekend and exhibiting her work at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands in July and October.

This post is the first in a series called "Studio Conversations" which will give a brief artist profile of a SHCG member followed by a short video clip of them in their studio.

Last week we visited with Jude Stuecker in her studio in west Asheville. She is a fiber artist who has been a member of the Guild since 2004. She creates quilts, clothing and accessories. She will be demonstrating her craft at Fiber Weekend at the Folk Art Center on May 8 and selling her work at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands in July and October.

Jude and her daughter, Silvia, posing in front of Jude's quilt,
"Honeybee" at her studio in west Asheville.

Display of Keepsake Quilts

Connie Brown aids visitors in learning more about their own quilts.

Robin Brooks demonstrating how to make "string" quilts.

Saturday was a lively day at the Folk Art Center. Not only were the Carolina Mountain Woodturners meeting in the auditorium (which always draws a great crowd), the SHCG was also celebrating National Quilting Day.

Connie Brown and Robin Brooks, both members of the SHCG and the Asheville Quilt Guild were demonstrating in the lobby. Connie presented an exhibition of family keepsake quilts. She also stayed busy all day helping visitors learn more about their own quilts. Connie was able to help them identify patterns, time periods and other interesting bits of information.

Robin Brooks demonstrated quilting on a small scale by showing first hand how she makes string quilts.

Several people were interested in the techniques used when working with t-shirts. Connie provided a handout that explained the technique she used for working with t-shirt fabrics. For visitors that had further inquires about the process she would show them the materials she used and how to prepare and stabilize the t-shirts.

Many people had questions about vintage and antique quilts. Many brought in their quilts for Connie to give suggestions about use or care of the textile or for her to give them general information about the quilt. Crazy quilts were a common theme with 3 different people bringing in a crazy quilt, all very different but all having that special hand embroidery that was fashionable during the Victorian era.

This National Quilting Day was the perfect example of how quilts can be a common and connecting thread. On several occasions, as a visitor was getting information about a quilt, a second visitor would make a connection. "I think I know you" or "Don't I know you from somewhere" was heard over and over, and before you knew it these visitors were reminiscing about past events. One visitor was a "blast from the past" for Connie, in the fall of 1996 they both worked at Erwin High School. A very special visitor from Black Mountain, rushed in near closing time, she just wanted to share a quilt that she had made in the 1960's, a wonderful hand appliqued "Tree of Life." Come to find out she and Connie have a mutual friend. Of those that brought in quilts, almost every one of them made a connection to someone else. After all-it is a small world.

Speaking of "small world", people were amazed by Robin Brooks' miniature quilts. Over and over, you heard "the pieces are so small, I don't know how she does that." Robin used her antique sewing machine to demonstrate how she makes them. Visitors loved seeing a vintage sewing machine and loved the fact that Robin was actually sewing with it. Robin displayed several family keepsake quilts and was delighted to share their history with interested visitors.

The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, with shows in July and October, may seem like a long way away, but it's never too early to begin planning for a great show.

Yesterday we met with Anna Littman and Mary Timmer from Arts for Life. Anna is the organization's Executive Director and Mary serves on the Advisory Council. These talented women are also members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild - Anna is a potter and Mary is a jeweler.

In the past, Arts for Life has hosted a children's activity table at the Craft Fair and they have agreed to return for the July Fair this year. Stay tuned for more information about the activities they will offer, activities which will be a great opportunity for kids to have their own art experience in the middle of an inspiring Craft Fair.

Arts for Life will also be curating an exhibition along the ramp leading from the Concourse to the Arena level of the Civic Center. The show will highlight work by children participating in the Arts for Life program along with photographs of the artists.

I encourage you to check out the Arts for Life website to learn about their amazing programming.

"Arts For Life is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting children and young adults facing serious illnesses. Through art education, we enrich patients’ lives and encourage positive healthcare experiences for children and their families. Arts For Life helps children all day everyday in four cities across North Carolina."