Jul 11 2017

Cover Girls, Exhibition, And Vacation, Oh My!


We certainly are starting our vacation off with a bang. For one, we were interviewed for the latest Patchwork Professional magazine, which just hit the newsstands. Patchwork Professional is published in Germany, so we had double the fun answering our interview questions in German. Yes, the editor was a bit surprised at that! The best part, of course, was when we found out that they used one of our quilts for the cover! Here it is:

Patchwork Professional 3/2017

If you’re in Germany, we hope you can find a copy and send us a photo of it displayed in the store. We’d love to see it in a rack among other German publications. Thanks in advance!

You can see our “cover” quilt in person at Bay Quilts in Richmond, CA, which brings us to our other great news: the artist reception for our solo exhibition this past Sunday. (Yes, we have to come up for another word for our solo exhibitions since there really are two of us!). It was fun to meet up with some good friends:

with Cara Gulati, our first SAQA friend

Deb chatting with Alice Beasley, another SAQA pal

This exhibition would not have come to pass, if it weren’t for a chance introduction to one of our newest friends, Johyne Geran. We were shocked at how many mutual friends we had, yet we had never crossed paths before. Thank you, Marcia Russell, for bringing us together. Because of Johyne’s recommendation to Sally Davey, owner of Bay Quilts, our work is now hanging at the store’s gallery throughout July. Thanks, Johyne! 

With Johyne Geran, one of our newest pals

We can’t end this post without wishing you all a wonderful and peaceful summer. We are taking some time off to tend to ourselves, our houses, our families, and to just having some good times. Look for us again in the fall.



Jun 27 2017

Art And Politics: What Does An American Look Like?


I won’t mince words. Last November’s election for US president hit Deb and me like a punch in the gut. In fact, we’re still reeling from what seems like a daily assault on what we have always held as true; we have the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’ve never shied away from “provocative” topics in our art, so we knew we would eventually protest this unjust administration. However, we felt paralyzed for a time, completely incapable of understanding how anyone, regardless of party affiliation, could have voted for someone who clearly had no respect for women, immigrants, or the US Constitution. Thankfully, ten artists* formed an alliance to mount a juried exhibition “to protest the Trump administration’s actions and policies.” It was the inspiration we needed to give voice to our despair. Our submission was accepted, and we are proud to say we are part of “Threads of Resistance.” (Click here for the touring schedule of the exhibition.)

Deciding on a theme for the piece was at first glance somewhat difficult. There had been so much bluster, banter, and so many outright lies that it was hard to pinpoint one thing above the others to concentrate on. In the end, though, we kept coming back to the topic of the so-called “Muslim ban.” We weren’t the only ones who felt this proposed ban was not only morally wrong but also unconstitutional.  Americans came out in droves on January 29, 2017, to protest the president’s Executive Order 13769. (Click here to read more about these protests.) This order was eventually replaced by Executive Order 13780.

Americans protesting the “Muslim Ban” in Houston, Texas on Jan 29, 2017.

Unlike the president, we are students of history and kept seeing the parallels between his proposed “Muslim ban” and the wholesale incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII. February 19, 2017 marked the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which paved the way for the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in ten concentration camps within the United States. I kept thinking about my family, who ended up in what became known as the Tule Lake Segregation Center

A family friend, Uncle Pete, Auntie Yuki &
Jichan (Grandpa) Sazaki in Tule Lake

What had they done to deserve this? Absolutely nothing. Deb and I know there are many Muslim Americans who might suffer the same fate as my family did, so we looked for a way to express this notion. Around this time I went to an exhibition about the Japanese American community in Sacramento, California, and I happened upon a photograph of Mitsuye Endo, whose case to invalidate her incarceration made its way to the US Supreme Court. Deb and I admired her courage, fortitude, and resistance. You can read more about her story at densho.org, which  “preserves, educates, and shares the story of World War II-era incarceration of Japanese Americans in order to deepen understandings of American history and inspire action for equity.”

Mitsuye Endo

As soon as we saw the entire photograph, we knew we had to do Mitsuye Endo’s portrait. In this photo, she looked like a typical American secretary . . . except she wasn’t white. We were delighted to find out that the owner of the copyright of this photo was none other than our own alma mater, California State University, Sacramento, so it was easy to get permission to use it in our project. Collaging the portrait was relatively easy, too, because we had many good words and phrases to choose from the current news and the anniversary of Executive Order 9066. The one thing we had to debate was whether or not to use blue as the shading color on Endo’s face. In Japanese art, the color blue is often used on faces to depict ghosts or the dying. We finally decided that we wanted Endo to represent the death of the American dream, so the color befitted our intent.

Deb working on Endo’s face

The last component of our piece was the background. Should we make it out of words and phrases like we did the face, or should we make it more subtle in order to bring Endo’s face into sharper focus? We kept talking about how Japanese Americans and Muslim Americans were singled out because of their looks, religion, or some other arbitrary marker to the point where we said, “Yeah, what does an American look like?” So that was how the background was born, but we didn’t stop there. Since we have many friends who speak other languages, we decided to ask them how to say “What does an American look like?” in other languages. This simple question begged further questions like “Do you mean physical traits?” “Do you mean what do they think like?” “Do you mean how do they act?” It turned out to be a compelling question. Here is the finished piece:

What Does An American Look Like?

Let us take this opportunity to publicly thank the following people for providing the translations. Be they academics, immigrants, artists, or business owners, they are above all our friends:

Arabic – Shahzad B.
Chinese – Clauda R. and Ellen W.
Dutch – Els M.
French – Eric F.
German – (Kris and Deb, of course!)
Italian – Susan A.
Japanese – Mario E.
Malagasy – Bakoly R.
Romanian – Danny M. and Paul B.
Russian – Amy A.
Spanish – Deborah F.

Here is the artist statement we submitted for the exhibition:

In 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the incarceration of Mitsuye Endo and 120,000 other Americans of Japanese ancestry. She became a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU to strike down her incarceration as unconstitutional. Despite governmental offers of an early release, Endo remained in camp in order for the case to make it to the US Supreme Court. Her victory led to the release of the prisoners in 1945. Fast forward to 2017 when we have witnessed President Trump sign first Executive Order 13769 and then Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” Both orders have been stopped by lower courts, so this “Muslim Ban” has yet to be implemented. This case is making its way to the Supreme Court. [Update: The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case in the fall of 2017 and has temporarily reinstated part of the ban. Click here to read more about this decision.]

These executive orders may be separated by 75 years but rely on the same fears of “the enemy.” That is why we pose the question, “What does an American look like?” Mitsuye Endo was an American. She was born in Sacramento, California, graduated from high school, and went to work for the California state government until she was fired from her job and incarcerated. So as you look around the room today, can you tell us what an American looks like?

* Our heartfelt gratitude to the Artist Circle Alliance members, who found the courage to resist: Sue Bleiweiss, Susan Brubaker Knapp, Judy Coates-Perez, Jane Dunnewold, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Jamie Fingal, Lyric Montgomery Kinard, Melanie TestaLeslie Tucker Jenison, and Kathy York


Apr 3 2017

Digital Designing Is Finally Here!


Several years ago we taught an “intermediate” online Photoshop Elements course. We enjoyed teaching it very much, but we knew that what we really wanted to do was to get our students to the point where they could unleash their creativity through Photoshop. Ever since we revamped our PSE 1 & 2 classes, our students have been asking for the next step. Well, we finally decided it was time to teach a design course. We have the course divided into four units that cover the elements of design: line, color, shape, and texture. Students will work with the different tools – and layers, of course! – to create and manipulate these elements. Here’s one sample that Deb worked on. Using a photograph as a starting point, she “drew” a fuchsia.

We’re already looking forward to seeing everyone’s portfolio. Please join us for this four-week course. Class begins May 1. Click here for more information.


Feb 15 2017

What We Found at the Met


Yesterday I told you about the Met joining forces with Creative Commons. Click here to read the post. Today I’ll show you some of the goodies I found. By now you know Kris and I both love text. We don’t even have to know what it means to like it. My favorites (this week) are illuminated Persian manuscripts.

“”Abu’l Mihjan and Sa`d ibn Abi Wakkas Before a Ruler”, Folio from a Khavarannama (The Book of the East) of ibn Husam al-Din”
by Maulana Muhammad Ibn Husam ad Din (Persian, died 1470)
via The Metropolitan Museum of Art licensed under CC0 1.0

Here’s an excerpt from Met’s description:

This manuscript of the legendary exploits of ‘Ali, nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet, is illustrated in a style associated with the White Sheep (Aq Qoyunlu) Turkoman dynasty ruling in the western part of Iran during the last third of the fifteenth century. Within a conventional framework, the artist of this miniature has combined a harmonious and balanced composition with sureness of drawing, crisp forms, pleasant colors and a variety of decorative patterns. (To read more, click on the link below the image.)

I like the flat look of it. After you learn about perspective and how to realize it in your own art, it’s fun to see examples of really “flat” art. I like the text in the next piece I found.

“Anthology of Persian Poetry”
via The Metropolitan Museum of Art licensed under CC0 1.0

The diagonal text on the border is very different. For some reason the text made me think of Dancing in the Louvre by my quilting idol, Faith Ringgold. 

Then I broadened my search and found other art movements with interesting text.

“Design for a certificate, awarded by the city of Vienna for the most beautiful floral balcony decorations (balcony below text)”
by Erwin Puchinger (Austrian, Vienna 1875–1944 Vienna)
via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

“Chinese Junk”
by Utagawa Yoshitora (Japanese, active ca. 1850–80)
via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

“Story Title Page,”Maria Morevna”, verso: text”
by Boris Zvorykin (Russian, Moscow 1872–1942 Paris)
via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

“Wind among the Trees on the Riverbank”
by Ni Zan (Chinese, 1306–1374), China
via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

I finally stopped when I came up with this one. No text, just beautiful colors

“Blue and Green Landscape with Figure”
by After Chen Hongshou (Chinese, 1599–1652), China
via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

But I did have to lighten it a bit so I could see the beautiful design. 😉

Blue and Green Landscape with Figure (cleaned up)

To go directly to a Creative Commons search for art from the Met, follow this link. If you sign up for an account with Creative Commons, you can create lists of images and tag your favorite pieces. Oh yeah, I sure loved using the links Creative Commons provided to credit the art.


Feb 14 2017

Tech Tuesday: The Met Goes Public–Domain, That Is


There are real advantages to collaborating. Here’s one I hadn’t thought of. Kris and I don’t read the same articles, websites, and blogs. So when one of us sees something exciting, we share it with the other. Kris stumbled across a good one. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) has partnered with Creative Commons to make images of public-domain art in the museum available for free and unrestricted use. So why is this such a big deal? Let’s say you are creating a class on digital design (we are), and you would like to have some great examples to use in your class (we do). And let’s say you want to use these images for commercial purposes (yep, that’s us). We don’t have to contact The Met to get permission to use these images anymore (Are you kidding me?). And, the images come with text and html credits. (OMG! Do you realize how much time that saves us?)
So here’s how it works:

Go to this website: https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/themet. I did a search for lotus textiles.

Creative Commons Page

When I click on an image, I am taken to another page with Creative Commons information. Click on the “How to use this work” link,

“How to use this Work” page

and I’m taken to the Met’s webpage and I get a wonderful 3811 pixel x 3009 pixel image that I can save to my computer.

Kyōgen Costume: Jacket (Suō) with Design of Lotuses

And I don’t even have to make the citation. Click on the “Copy credit as text button,” and when I paste it I get this:

“Kyōgen Costume: Jacket (Suō) with Design of Lotuses” by Japan via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

When you paste it into a document, it comes with the italics, etc. But even more impressive is when I use the “Copy credit as HTML” button I get this:

Which, when copied to my blog post, gives me this fully formatted link and caption:

“Kyōgen Costume: Jacket (Suō) with Design of Lotuses”
by Japan via The Metropolitan Museum of Art
is licensed under CC0 1.0

It almost makes you want to go back to school and write research papers, doesn’t it? The Met also has a “Print” button that will allow you to print (or print to a file) all the information about the artwork with links to related objects.

If you know anything about us, we can’t just stop at one image. We browse and search, and pretty soon we’ve wasted the whole day. So you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see some of the cool things I found. Until then, back to work.


Feb 8 2017

Classes At The Schweinfurth


There are so many quilting classes out there that it’s sometimes difficult to sort through them all to find one that is most suited to your needs and desires. We recently came upon the summer class schedule for the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY (near Syracuse). If you’re looking for serious artist teachers, you need look no further. We’ve taken classes or heard lectures from both Rosalie Dace and Maria Shell, so we think they would be great. Because we are working on our new design class, and I keep thinking about line, I am particularly intrigued by Kathy Loomis‘s class called “Fine Line Piecing.”

In this class you’ll learn how to sew very thin lines of all types, including straight, curved, and swoopy, and then incorporate them into an art piece. Kathy is also teaching Improvisational Strip Piecing, so that might be more up your alley. If you do have the opportunity to learn with Kathy, ask her about her flag quilts. I still think they’re among her best work.

And a little P.S. from Deb: at our Studio Art Quilt Associates conference in 2016, Kathy spoke about the benefits of working in a series. While she showed examples from abstract artists, it made me want to go back and examine our text pieces, and see if I noticed changes over time. And, no, I haven’t gotten around to that yet!


Feb 1 2017

Pixeladies Class Contest: We Have A Winner!


Last week we held a contest to give away a Pixeladies online class. We asked our readers to leave a comment on our blog post about inspiration and documentation. Well, today we randomly drew* a winner: Kit Vincent! Kit wins a Pixeladies online class. Now, Kit can enroll in any Pixeladies class she wants to, but we think she might be interested in our Digital Designing class because:

  • she already knows how to use of the basic tools of Photoshop Elements
  • she is a fabulous fiber artist and might enjoy learning how to digitally create the elements of design
  • she would meet other students and get as inspired by their work as much as we do
  • and she’s from Canada. Actually, that’s not really a reason to take the class; we just love having students from all over the world!

Some of our scarf designs

If you are interested in enrolling in “Digital Designing,” registration starts April 1 for the class that begins May 1. Click here for more information. Thanks again for everyone who left comments. You’ve really inspired us!


* This is how we made our random draw:

  1. We cut and pasted everyone’s email address into a spreadsheet.
  2. We then used a random number generator to assign a number to everyone.
  3. Then we sorted the list by the random number.
  4. Then Kris pulled out her telephone book (yes, she still has a few in the living room!).
  5. Deb, who was at her home talking to Kris on the phone, told her to open the phone book to a particular page.
  6. Deb then called out a random column and then a random row, like “seventh row from the top.”
  7. Kris then called off the last two digits of that phone number, and voilà, we had our winner!

Total silliness but some retro fun with the telephone book!


Jan 24 2017

Tech Tuesday: Fabric Printing, Part 3


We are often asked to recommend a good online fabric-printing service. A few years ago we wrote a couple of reviews. You can read them here:

Online Fabric-Printing Service Review 1
Online Fabric-Printing Service Review 2

This past summer we had the opportunity to write a more comprehensive article about online fabric-printing services for the SAQA* Journal. Click here to read it. The upshot of the article is that you need to identify your needs (such as type of fabric desired and the importance of black to your image) before deciding on a particular company. And, we found that different companies excel in different areas. We hope our articles are helpful to you. Leave us a comment, if you would like us to review a different online fabric-printing service .


Sample image from the article

* The SAQA Journal is one of the many benefits of membership in Studio Art Quilt Associates. You can view back issues (older than two years) without membership, but we think the journal alone is worth the price of our membership! Thank you, SAQA, for permission to post the article on our website. Click here to view more SAQA Journal articles.


Jan 17 2017

Inspiration and Documentation


Kris and I are revamping our Digital Designing class. Sometimes it takes us quite a while to formulate a class, but this one came together in an afternoon. I just love it when that happens. So while Kris was fleshing out the outline, I was looking for inspiration for projects. I’d really love to have our students submit images of what they’d like to learn to create, but sometimes when a student is given such an open assignment, they freeze up. It’s sort of like having a new sketchbook; sometimes you just don’t know where to start. Someone once told me they took an art class where the instructor made a mark in the student’s sketch book, just so it wasn’t blank. But I digress.

I keep folders of ideas. I’ve never been a journal-type person. I wish I were, but it’s just not in my DNA. I scrawl notes on scraps of paper, rip ideas out of magazines, keep Pinterest boards, make written and audio memos on my phone, etc.


Last year I did manage to put most of the ideas on paper into a large binder, but it’s not organized at all.

Idea Binder

Idea Binder

Here are a few of the things from my idea book I thought might be helpful for our design class.






How do you document your inspiration? What would you want to learn in our Digital Designing class? Leave us a comment below by January 31, and we’ll enter you into a drawing for a free class! The winner will be announced on February 1, 2017.


Jan 10 2017

Tech Tuesday: Duplicate File Finder


As promised in yesterday’s blog post, I’m going to show you why I’m in love with Duplicate File Finder by Ashisoft.com. You might notice that I have the Pro Edition. The free version looks the same; some of the features are just deactivated. More on that later. Sorry Mac peeps, this is a PC-only program.
Once I installed and opened the program, the interface was pretty intuitive. It opened with a tip I found very comforting. (Just click on any image to enlarge it.)

Helpful tip

Helpful tip

When you close the tip box, you are presented with the “Search Locations” window. Add a path and you’re ready to start. The default search is “Find Unique Files.” When you press Start Search, DFF will find all files that are NOT duplicates.

4264 unique files

4264 unique files

In this example, I’m searching the one folder I didn’t clean up while Kris was vacationing: “Presentations” on my E drive (7764 files). Finding the unique files is helpful if you want to copy those files to another location. Because I really want to find the duplicate files in order to delete them, I need to change my search settings.
At this point, I’m going to concentrate on the first two search options. You can search for files by file name or contents (byte by byte). What’s the difference? Below is a screenshot where I chose “Match File Names.” When you click on that option, you have more choices. For this example, I chose “Same File Names” and “Same File Extension.”

Compare by file name

Compare by file name

DFF found 2408 duplicate files. Can I simply delete all the duplicates? Not with these settings. Consider the next screenshots. In the first one, it found 2 files called scarf.jpg and Scarf.jpg (DFF sees upper and lowercase letters as being the same). But look at the preview of the images. They’re not even the same image. I don’t want to delete either of those files.

Same name, different images

Same name, different images

In the next example, DFF found two files named deb.jpg, but look at the file sizes. They’re vastly different. I don’t want to delete either of those files, because they’re technically not the same. They just have the same name and file extension (.jpg).

Same name, different size

Same name, different size

It’s easy to compare .jpg files—there’s a preview window. Other types of files aren’t as easy. If I have to open and compare each file and choose the duplicates manually, that defeats my reason for using the program. Fortunately, DFF has the option of finding real duplicates—files that have the exact same bytes. This time I’m going to select “Match Contents (Byte by Byte).” Again, when I choose that type of search, I have more options. This time I’m not going to check any of them. I want to find all the duplicates, no matter what they are called or what date is associated with them. Below is the screenshot showing I now have 2210 duplicate files instead of 2408. Note there are fewer files that are true duplicates.

Byte by Byte comparison

Byte by Byte comparison

Let’s look at the files that are duplicates. DFF found 5 files that are physically the same: 4 with the same name (bettie54dish1.jpg) and one called slide0093_image020.jpg. I can delete 4 of those files. To do that, choose the Easy Marking tab and click on Mark All Duplicate files. By default DFF keeps the newest file in each group (the groups are numbered and differentiated by the color in the file list). The screenshot below shows 4 of the files marked for deletion.) Now I feel confident I can click the Delete button. If I were really paranoid, I could copy or move those files to another location. But I really want to get rid of them! (DFF tells me I could gain up to 7 GB in disk space just by deleting my duplicate files. Wow!)

Same file, different name

Same file, different name

The free version of Duplicate File Finder has saved me hours of work! So, why did I purchase the Pro Version? I did it for the marking options. If you recall from the preview post, I said I had files on two computers along with CDs, DVDs and external hard drives. With the Pro version, I can choose to keep all the files on a certain drive (a DVD, for example) and delete the ones on all of the other drives. Or, I can choose to move all the unique files to my internal hard drive. Or . . . . The Pro Version gives me more options. For most of you that won’t be necessary. But for me, $50 was worth every penny. The price depends on how many computers you want to search. Here’s a link to the pricing schedule. Also, the Pro license gives you free updates for a year (but you can use the program forever), and you can transfer the license to a different computer in case you buy a new one. Oh! Did I mention there are tutorials?

Online tutorials

Online tutorials

If you try Duplicate File Finder, let us know what you think. And, if you know of a comparable program for Mac, leave us a comment.