Guest Blogger Month at the Quilting Gallery

Susie Monday

Angels, saints, sinners, strange beasts. Fire eye-browed women and prickly landscapes step out of the air and into my work. I can’t help it. These odd characters and scenes aren’t predetermined, they just happen. I don’t use patterns, rarely make sketches, refuse to pin, never measure (except at the very end), sometimes I don’t even worry about the back of my quilts and the knots and snarls that bedevil us all whether we admit it or pick them out or not.

Let’s get one thing straight here at the start. Many (most?) of you reading Quilting Gallery are traditional quilters. You are the backbone of the interest and the audience and most of the quilt store customers and you are skilled! From reading a number of the other guest bloggers, I suspect I am in the minority here, but I will promise to make this a good read. Maybe even challenge you to give up your perfect points in the next quilt you make. (Sorry, that was uncalled-for.)

I am not. A quilter really. Nor am I really very good at quilting. But I think I make good art. That happens to be made of fabric. And stitched, and usually three-layered.

I intentionally make contemporary textile paintings (see Lisa Call’s blog for her ideas about that) and they are quilted (free motion) and they are also fused.

Intensely interested in pattern and color and texture, paint just doesn’t work as a medium for my ideas, and, as an artist, it is my path and passion and calling to get my ideas out of my head and into the world in the best available materials.

I began sewing at a young age, but the precision required by my home-ec teacher (and that dates me, right) was an unwelcome discipline and an unnerving challenge. So I went into theater and visual arts and then later became an arts and arts-in-ed educator, museum designer, writer and teacher (there’s even a new book for parents and grandparents who want to encourage creative kids), but I kept coming back to cloth.

My personal revival came in a surface design course at the Southwest School of Art and Craft in San Antonio (where I now teach in the fibers department) and in a discovery that I could actually learn to paint and pattern and design fabric. Then I had to figure out what to do with the stacks of stuff I was making and I discovered art quilts.

Among those and thats who have influenced what I now do: Jane Dunnewold, Sue Benner, Leslie Jenison, Kerr Grabowski, Rayna Gillman, Lisa Call, African textiles, Mexican embroideries, Guatemalan weavers, limestone layers, the Art Cloth Network, the International Quilt Festival (where I also teach) and lots more.

I told you what I don’t do much of in the first paragraph. What I do do: journal and observe, listen to my dreams, follow my obsessions, pile up cloth and look at the colors together, mull over design elements and sketch, sketch, sketch images, doodles and private marks then turn them into thermofax screens for printing paint and dye, improvisationally dye fabric with Kerr’s methods of deconstructed screenprinting, iron WonderUnder or Mystifuse to every piece I like, sometimes piece together long rows of 5′ strips and other background fabric, then start cutting with a vague idea of what it is that is speaking to me. Then I free-motion stitch the quilt, possibly even go back and print another layer of imagery on top of it all. Sometimes I mount my work on wooden frames, sometimes it just hangs on the wall.

And yes, someday I really do want to make a bed quilt. But I am terrified of the binding. And the basting. I read you so that I will have the courage to try someday!

Meanwhile you are invited to follow my journey on my blog.


For those who comment here, or on my blog during the rest of the month of February, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free copy of my book on creativity (it’s even good from grownups who aren’t around kids): New World Kids at

Quintet of Altars: Accidental Hearts
Quintet of Altars: Accidental Hearts
Art quilts on wooden frames, each approximately 16" by 24" by 3"
Floating Above It
Floating Above It, Mixed Media Fiber
64" by 46", by Susie Monday, 2007
Art quilt inspired by lyrics in a Talking Heads song of the same title
Detail, Stella Maris
Detail, Stella Maris
Too Much Information (Self portrait with Twitter)
Too Much Information (Self portrait with Twitter)
Art quilt, 26" by 28"
Pomegranate Altar
Pomegranate Altar
16F" by 24" by 2.5", Art quilt on wooden frame
Susie Monday

15 thoughts on “Susie Monday

  • February 18, 2009 at 2:57 am

    ***These odd characters and scenes aren’t predetermined, they just happen. I don’t use patterns, rarely make sketches, refuse to pin, never measure (except at the very end), ***

    Well I like to read such lines……I use to say that I am like a goat…following the flock, but under wood….

    Not really appréciated in French patchwork groups…even,if I don’t belong to any group…
    Thank you …( and excuse my “english”. )

  • February 18, 2009 at 6:00 am

    I am terrified of doing these wonderful art quilts… bed size quilts and bindings are fairly painless in comparison :-)

  • February 18, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Your quilts are beautiful works of art, they do have a surreal dream-like quality to them…fascinating! However I agree with upstatelisa, I too am terrified of making a quilt like that – I am afraid my imagination and talent can not live up to my desire. Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift! Please come to sunny Tampa and teach some classes!!

  • February 18, 2009 at 9:55 am

    I come from a similar background as Susie. I find it amusing that the “traditional” quilters are “terrified” of doing art quilts – I’m amused because like Susie, I am terrified of doing a traditional quilt – matching points, 1/4″ seams, perfect stitching and on and on! I am so thankful that there are those that truly enjoy traditional and very thankful for those that don’t care for perfect points or if there are nests of threads on the back! This makes for an enormously creative and wonderful place we live in!

  • February 18, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for the comments, you and others are in the freebie book drawing pool! — And for those who are terrified of art quilts, I encourage you to just leap in. With a learning curve, sure, you had one for the quilting you do, you will find your voice and unique way of putting fabric together. I hope you’ll take a class or workshop sometime to try a baby step into art quilting. I hope to teach an online class sometime soon and will let you know when it’s hatched. Susie

  • February 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I, too am more of a traditional quilter, though I have done some more arty applique quilts.

    The most freeing thing I have done was to chose three main colors from my scraps and sew them together by color and width of strips with the three clors in each strip. I’m not into random scrap quilts.

    I like your quilts.

  • February 19, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I think your quilts are amazing. I have never attempted any type of art quilt, I think I am afraid it wouldn’t turn out very well. Yours are beautiful, I especially like the one inspired by Talking Heads- definitely a good place to get inspiration for an art quilt. Thanks!

  • February 19, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks Shannon and Kathy — I appreciate your comments, and I think its important to keep a journal of ideas and inspirations. You never know where the next one will come from. This weekend I’m teaching a color workshop and that always leads me to new ideas and weird palettes — like the Talking Heads inspired quilt.

  • February 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Cool….a little out of my comfort zone. But am sure my granddaughter would like this kind of art. Beautiful work and creativity.

  • February 22, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Great post, I’ve been following your work for years, even before you joined QuiltArt. Love the Heart Quintet and the kitchen mermaid from your website.
    Sandra in Moab

  • February 22, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I love your work, and now that I have found your blog, plan on visiting again. I do more traditional quilting and teach classes, but am fascinated with art quilting and have done a little. Thanks for the inspiration and I would love to win your book!

  • March 3, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Thanks Sandra and all of you for following my artistic voyage — and I appreciate everyone’s comments. I’ll post the winner of the book here on this blog as well as on my own today! The list is being assembled! And awaits my studio assistant for the drawing.

  • March 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for all the great comments. Sandra, I really thank you for commenting and following my work, and Jean, sorry you didn’t win. Please follow along on my blog posts on the New World Kids site ( for more chances to win books!

    But for this two-week raffle, the winner is: LAURA ANN who commented on this site on 2/18. I know who you are and I’m so happy to be able to send you the book!

  • March 17, 2010 at 6:07 am

    I love the African feel from these quilts! I’m currently half way through my own and this has given me the push to finish it! Many thanks.

  • July 22, 2010 at 11:54 am

    You’re amazing, I would love to create something that looked this good! I used to love sewing at school but I’m rubbish with a sewing machine so I’d just sew everything by hand. It got a bit tiring so I don’t sew now, but I would if I could create anything that looked as good as these!

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