Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Friday, April 30, 2010

CNN hero nomination

A few days ago I blogged about Maiti Nepal, a group that rescues girls in Nepal and India from the sex slave trafficers. Tonight on CNN's Anderson Cooper show, I saw that Anuradha Koirala, the woman who founded the group, has been nominated as a CNN hero. The news clip showed a girl beading a purse like the one I bought. Here's a link to a CNN article about Anuradha and her group:

And here is today's quilt, a detail of a larger mainly blue piece from a few years back. Today we had a few short stretches of blue sky interspersed with spurts of rain and scuttling clouds, so I thought a blue quilt would be appropriate.

Detail of "Study In Blue," by Sherrie Spangler
Hand-painted silk and cotton, yarn, machine quilting

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quilts for breast cancer patients

Gig Harbor quilters (from left) Nancy Altman, Anne Richardson, Carol Arnold (who started the Comfort Quilt Project), Mary Lou Panks, and Harriet Mooney, in front of the Harbor Quilt store after yesterday's sewing session.

Yesterday was Comfort Quilt day, one of my favorite days of the month because it involves lots of colorful fabric, friendly quilters doing something good for others, and an excuse to start my day with an extra large iced mocha. (Not that I need an excuse.)

The Comfort Quilt Project was started in 2002 by breast cancer survivor Carol Arnold (holding the pink quilt above) as a way to provide comforting quilts to others undergoing breast cancer treatment. All of the supplies and time are donated, and the quilts are distributed through the offices of Dr. Frank Senecal at Hematology/Oncology NW in Tacoma.

More than 750 quilts have been donated!

Anyone is welcome to help out on the fourth Tuesday of the month, from 10:30-4, at Harbor Quilt, 7716 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor, WA 98335. ( If you can, bring basic sewing supplies and a machine. Otherwise, you can help cut, pin and iron. The best part is that Carol does all of the thinking and planning, so we just have to chat and sew. And she usually shares her snacks. You also can work on the quilts at home.

The project is an offshoot of the Gig Harbor Quilt Festival, which has a fund-raising auction every fall for local breast cancer charities. For more info, check it out at:

"Mary Conquers Cancer," by Sherrie Spangler, 2009, 20x30"

This is the quilt I donated to last year's festival for the auction. I was thrilled to learn that Anne (in top photo) made the winning bid. It's nice to know that your art goes to a good home.

As always, have a colorful day!

Friends of Maiti Nepal

Last week I bought this beaded purse that was made by girls who had been rescued from the sex traffic trade in Nepal and India. The beads are tiny -- there must be thousands in each purse -- and were sewn on by hand. The geometric design is beautiful. The purse was only $30, and every dollar goes back to help support the girls.

I bought it from a fellow book club member ... who was selling the purses for her school teacher daughter ... who found out about them when she viewed the bead work and a film about the girls, "The Day My God Died," at the home of a friend ... who was selling the girls' beaded items through Christine Mackay of Crooked Trails ... which is the local (Seattle) organization that filters the bead work for Maiti Nepal ... which is the group that rescues and shelters these girls.

I see it as individuals linked together for a greater cause, just as the beads are strung together to make a beautiful bag. For more info, please check out these websites:

* Friends of Maiti Nepal, the official representative of Maiti Nepal in the United States.

*, a trailer for the film, "The Day My God Died."

If you live in the Gig Harbor-Tacoma area and are interested in buying a purse or other beaded item, just leave a comment here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Back to the business of quilting

Here is Lesley Alcorn (yes, there is an "l" in her name but not in the store's name) Gebbie in her new quilt store, ACORN QUILTS, 6409 E. Riverside Blvd., Rockford, IL 61114. I went back to the Midwest to visit friends and attend the International Quilt Festival in Chicago ( and much to my surprise discovered that Lesley (who I hadn't seen in half a decade) followed her muse and opened her own store!

Her store's motto is: "Urban Chic Meets Vintage Charm." You can see the fun urban chic fabric and pillow above and the vintage charm to the left.

Her store didn't make it onto the IQA bus tour of Rockford quilt shops because she'd been open less than a year, but at least I found it.
(Thanks for taking me, Susan!)

And here are Susan and me in the hallway leading into the quilt festival, which was held at the Convention Center in Rosemont. We don't know who that man is, and I'm not sure how the dog got into the picture. (In case you can't tell, that's a hallway mural.)

I didn't enter a quilt in this year's festival, but I did have a photograph (below) in the new exhibit called "The Eye of the Quilter: Inspiration." Quilters were asked to submit their own digital photographs that might inspire a quilt. Since bright green is my favorite color, I submitted these banana leaves that I snapped in Hawaii.

"Banana Leaves," by Sherrie Spangler, 2009

Have a colorful day!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day!


Farmers Dave (hubby) and Dick (neighbor) in our garden.

It's noon, which means our 40th annual Earth Day is half over and I'm just starting to think about posting green pictures. I'll make it short and sweet -- some photos, some quilts, and my movie, book and website suggestions.

MIDDLETON, WI (near Madison)

We visited Keith last week in Madison, WI, and he took us on one of the many local hiking trails. Everything was just starting to bud out, and it was warm and sunny.


A few days later I took this photo in Aldeen Park, in Rockford. This is a gorgeous woodsy park that I walked in and photographed hundreds of times in all seasons when we lived in Rockford.


Then it was back to Gig Harbor, WA, where I zoomed in on our neighboring cows nuzzling each other in the sun. Their pasture is right behind our mailboxes, and not long ago they were joined by a horse.

When I was photographing the above quilt ("Garden Gone Wild") outside a few years ago, a bee landed on it and wouldn't leave. I guess that's a compliment.


"Common Ground," by Sherrie Spangler, 2006, with design help and beading by Sandi Uram

Size: 40x29 inches
Materials: Cotton fabric, yarn, beads, decorative threads
Techniques: Machine applique and quilting, beading

My good friend and art teacher Sandi Uram instigated this quilt in conjuction with Rockford College's Uncommon Women series in 2006. She helped with the design and provided the green fabric, and I did the sewing. Then she used her community connections to display it in a window at the Rockford Art Museum during the Uncommon Women events.

GREEN MOVIE: "The Real Dirt on Farmer John"

This award-winning film documentary shows how John saved his late father's farm near Rockford by turning it into a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm called Angelic Organics. People from Wisconsin down through Chicago subscribe before the growing season to a share in the farm, and in return receive a huge box every week brimming with freshly harvested produce. The film also examines the plight of family farms in the face of industrial agriculture and suburban sprawl. Click here for the farm's blog site. From there you can find info on the movie and on farm subscriptions.

We subscribed to Angelic Organics for about nine years when we lived in Rockford and felt righteously healthful and green because of it!

GREEN BOOK: Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring"

Carson is considered the mother of the environmental movement as well as a poetic writer.

GREEN WEBSITE: Stewart Brand

I just saw Brand a few nights ago on a PBS special about early environmental leaders. He's best known for editing the 1968 Whole Earth Catalog, but wikipedia gives an interesting synopsis of him (born in Rockford in 1938 and now lives on a tug boat in Sausalito) and his other ventures. To read more from wikipedia, click here.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sea stars, barnacles, slugs, oh my!

The shaggy mouse nudibranch, a sea slug found on our Kopachuck beach walk.

Since January, I've been writing a monthly column for the local paper about my observations of Gig Harbor, WA, through the curious eyes of a newcomer. My April 21, 2010 column is about the wonders of our intertidal life here in the south Puget Sound, and these photos go with that column. (The intertidal zone is between the lowest low tide and highest high tide.)

I moved here recently from Illinois and had never lived near the ocean before, so I had a lot to learn. I enlisted the expertise of Dave Behrens, local resident and internationally known marine biologist, and my friend Joyce Murray, of the local
Harbor WildWatch.

Armed with my notebook and camera (and daughter Julia to help take pictures), and Dave with his boots, net and bucket, we hit the beach last month during low tide.

You can read about our discoveries in my column
in the Gig Harbor Peninsula Gateway by clicking here.

Marine biologist Dave Behrens wades into the water at Kopachuck State Park in search of interesting critters. He has written eight books on nudibranchs (sea slugs).

Dave holds a pink sea star. Always wet your hands before touching sea stars (dry hands are more of a shock) and be gentle.

A closeup of the pink sea star, surrounded by tube worms poking out of the muck. Note the suctioning tube feet underneath the star's arms.

Joyce Murray, of Harbor WildWatch, checks out an ochre sea star held by Dave.

My daughter holds a female red rock crab -- carefully.

"This is history!" Dave said of a big boulder pushed down millions of years ago by glaciers. Now, it hosts a barnacle village, anemones, a juvenile sea star, seaweed and more.

My column barely scratched the surface of what you can find at low tide, but I hope it may have interested some of you in learning more. After all, as the Shawnee proverb goes:

"We are all one child, spinning through Mother Sky."

Related Events:

* This Friday, April 23, at 8 p.m. head down to Jerisich Dock in downtown Gig Harbor for "Pier Into the Night." Hosted by Harbor WildWatch, this event will use night lights to reveal ocean critters that live in our waters. Naturalists will be on hand. Check for more events throughout the year.

* June 1, 2010, at 6 p.m. Dave Behrens will present "The Marine Creatures of Puget Sound" at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club, 8209 Stinson Ave., Gig Harbor, WA. This is open to the public and the $5 cost includes pizza and soft drinks.

* Check out Dave's monthly column, "What's Under Your Boat?" in the Gig Harbor Yacht Club newsletter. Go to, then click on Coxswain to get to the newsletter.

Related art quilt:

"Starfish Rising," by Sherrie Spangler, 2010

Materials: Hand-painted and commercial fabric, embroidery thread, beads
Techniques: Painting, hand embroidery, machine quilting, beading
Size: 28 x 32 inches

Enjoy the day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Art Quilts Not Bound by Tradition

"What Is Life?" 2005, 21x21 inches

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
-- Crowfoot (Blackfeet), circa 1880

Quilting Arts Magazine ( has resurrected an article that I wrote for them five years ago ("Not Bound by Tradition," Fall 2005) and included it in their free online eBook, titled "How to Bind a Quilt: 12 New Quilt Bindings and Finishing Methods for Your Art Quilts." I think if you click here, it will take you there.

Anyway, the above quilt is the one pictured with the original article. I made it for an invitational exhibit at Womanspace in Rockford, IL, based on the theme "Poems of a Different Color." (Womanspace is one of the places I most miss about Rockford. Take a look at their website,, and newsletter.)

Here are a few more of my quilts that don't use traditional bindings on the edges. (You can also check out my April 6 blog entry to see a better closeup of painted batting on one of my chocolate quilts.)

"Pink Rock," 2002, 50x40 inches

The darker pink peeking out from around the edges is actually batting that I painted. The batting really soaks up paint, so I only did the edges (before I did the quilting). It's a whole-cloth quilt that started as white cotton. First, I painted it in pinks, oranges and purples, then I stamped it with petroglyph figures. I used some commercial stamps and others that I cut myself from compressed sponges or carved into foam meat trays. I applied some foil and scrunched up tulle for more texture. (Rocks are textured.) Final step was to quilt it with a pattern derived from rock strata in Zion National Park, Utah. (I haven't been there -- yet -- but I referenced a photo of rocks there.) I left dangling thread tails to add to the rough feeling.

"Fragments," 2007, 41x30 inches

The black border is the cotton backing fabric, with its edges left raw. The edges of the front also are raw, and the batting is hidden in between the backing and the front.

Left is a detail of how I finished the edges of "Spring" (2006). The front was made by loosely weaving strips of fabric on top of the pink background. The backing (the same pink fabric) extends beyond the front, and batting is layered in between. All edges are raw.

"Too Much Fun," 2002, 18x18 inches

This was a quickie, made by tossing scraps of my favorite colors onto some batting, topping it with the orange lady, and drizzling the whole thing with sparkly threads. I let the black backing fabric extend around the edges to frame it before quilting in spirals with gold thread. Final step was a little beaded embellishment, and a couple of years later I added shiny sunglasses.

"Light," 2004, 32x41 inches

This was made in the same manner as "Fragments." I used overlapping layers of hand-painted silk organza, cotton, and other sheers to create rich layers of color. As usual, I left the gold thread tails dangling because I like the way they glitter.

Signing off, from gray, drizzly Gig Harbor

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Finding color in the desert

It's raining again in Gig Harbor, so I'm turning to the desert for today's sunshine. These are pictures I took earlier this year on a short trip to Tucson, Arizona. A lot of people think of the desert as a brown, dry, desolate no-man's land, but it's actually quite vibrant and full of life.

You can usually count on a turquoise sky during the day followed by a splash of purple and orange as the sun sets, then a night sky studded with stars. The sun casts all sorts of interesting shadows in the cacti -- great design inspiration.

Did I mention the fish in the desert? These are in the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum west of Tucson. It's a beautiful indoor/outdoor living museum.

These are the famous saguaro cacti. I think I took this at Sabino Canyon, northeast of Tucson, but not positive. We did a lot of hiking in different spots.

Why am I showing you this wall quilt I made way back in 1995? Because look at the next picture of a store mural in Tucson. For those of you who aren't Grateful Dead fans, that's the late Jerry Garcia (with the white hair) of the Grateful Dead, my all-time favorite band.

The center panel of the quilt is the front of a t-shirt. I made Jerry's head myself, and added some borders.

There's Jerry, gazing over Tucson from the Hippie Gypsy store.

Even the Goodwill is colorful.

Here's looking at ya! (From the Tucson Botanical Garden)

Have a great day

Friday, April 9, 2010

Farmer Dave

That's Farmer Dave, above, tucking broccoli babies into his garden. I guess we're putting down roots at our rental house, because this year he dug up a HUGE garden plot, started oodles of seedlings downstairs (that's his grow operation, left), and is well on his way to planting enough produce to feed our neighborhood.

Those are apple trees behind him, which our neighbor has been pruning back into shape. Julia has high hopes for making apple sauce and apple butter and apple cobblers this fall.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hallelujah, the sun is back!

"Spring Fling," 37"x40", by Sherrie Spangler, 2001
A blast from my past, celebrating sunny, windy spring days

Our sun has FINALLY returned after too many gray days. I just hiked down to the water to get the photos above and below. The snow-capped Olympic Mountains are hidden in the clouds on the horizon. It's very windy and nippy and allergy-inducing pollen is swirling in the air, but it's such a relief to finally have sunshine.

As you can see below, we have some beautiful green on our beaches.

Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chocolate Nirvana

"Chocolate Nirvana In Red," by Sherrie Spangler
Published in the 2006 Quilting Arts Magazine Calendar

When Quilting Arts Magazine asked readers to interpret the theme "What is your utopia?" in the form of small art quilts, I knew right away that mine would involve chocolate. I submitted these two 14"x14" quilts for consideration, and the red one was selected to be the February calendar girl!

All of the shiny parts are made from Hershey Kisses wrappers. The text on the blue quilt is made with a Krylon gold leafing pen (from Michael's), outlined with a Pigma pen. I did a machine satin-stitch applique, wrapped tulle around the edges in place of traditional binding, and then embellished with beads.

"Chocolate Nirvana In Blue," by Sherrie Spangler, 2005

Chocolate Kisses

After polishing off an entire large bag of Easter-color Peanut M&Ms, I just can't get chocolate off of my mind. I promised some of you that I would post my chocolate quilts, so here is one called "Chocolate Kisses II" from 2001. Those shiny squares are wrappers from Hershey Kisses, eaten by me in the name of art. I painted and stamped the other fabrics, painted the green edges of the batting, and machine quilted with gold thread. I put a layer of yellow tulle (a very fine nylon netting) over the top before quilting to protect the candy wrappers. You can see the non-binding edge treatment better here:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Behold, the Easter Bunny

... and what a noble rabbit he is, surveying his domain from the front porch flower pot. His favorite spot, though, is the rug in front of the kitchen sink where he gets his carrots and kale (organic, of course).

After stuffing himself he poses for another picture, this time in his role as a beach bunny. Although commonly called "The Easter Bunny," we know him as "Bunners." He belongs to my daughter, which makes me his doting grandmother.

He needs those sunglasses for looking at "Garden Gone Wild," below, which is my art quilt for the day. It's big -- 61" wide and 45" tall -- and I made it in April 2007. It now hangs over my daughter's desk, and I don't know how she sleeps at night with that in the room.

Here is a detail, which shows some of the yarn and feathers that I tacked down as I machine quilted it. It's wild and unkempt, as the name implies.

And here is some more garden color for your inspiration, this time from the Victorian-style W.W. Seymour Botanical Garden conservatory in Tacoma's Wright Park. (I took these pictures a year or so ago.) The exhibit included whimsical glass pieces by Tacoma's own Dale Chihuly interspersed among the flowers. Tacoma is full of Chihuly's fabulous glass art.

Have a colorful day!