Gardens as Inspiration

According to Nobel-prize winner Patrick White,

Inspiration descends only in flashes, to clothe circumstances; it is not stored up in a barrel, like salt herrings, to be doled out.

Many members of Postmark’d Art seek those flashes to clothe a current need in their gardens. For example:

Karen Musgrave recently used alcohol inks on her mailbox topper. Karen said, “It provided double fun! Once in the making and a second time when the neighbors came to check it out.”

Vivian Aumond-Capone finds the sunflowers in her garden to be a source of inspiration. Here’s a photo she took of one

and a mounted piece of artand a 12″ x 12″ art quilt.Sara Kelly spent some time in Tacoma, Washington last winter and captured this image in a nearby garden.And here is the art quit it inspired.Franki Kohler says the ancient ginkgo is a constant source of fascination to her. The tree in her yard continues to fuel her art.

Both of these art quilts measure 12″ x 12″.

Lynn Chinnis loves to meander the many paths of her garden.

And here is her art quilt Garden Path. This quilt was donated for Laura Cater-Woods’ fundraiser following hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Where do you find inspiration?

Featured Artist- Lynn Chinnis

Lynn Chinnis is a charter member of Postmark’d Art. She lives in Warrenton, Virginia, with her husband Jim. They have one daughter, Sarah, who lives with her husband and daughter in Cary, North Carolina. Lynn began in quilting making traditional quilts.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I made my first quilt in 1975 for my daughter’s first “big girl” bed out of scraps from her clothes:  polyester, cotton, whatever I had—a lot of kettle cloth. It was 6-inch squares and tied with yarn.  Since the “batting” was an old army blanket, it pretty much had to be tied.  Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to the fiber content of the yarn, which curled up into little balls the first time the quilt was washed.  Over the years it has been washed quite a bit, so they have become very tiny little nubs.  The quilt is affectionately (or not so) known as the “sandbag” quilt and my daughter still uses it.  Family members who like sleeping under something heavy love it, the down comforter set not so much.

After that, I didn’t make another quilt until about 1992 when a friend of mine talked me into a quilting class at a local store.  By that time we were using rotary cutters and rulers rather than scissors and cardboard templates, and quilting became a lot more fun.

When did you join Postmark’d Art?

I joined in 2004 when the group first started.  I had gotten bored with traditional quilting and wanted to try something different.  Somehow I found the QuiltArt mailing list and was amazed at what people were doing.  It seemed a lot more interesting than my traditional quilts. I finally got brave enough to try a QuiltArt Deck of Cards swap.  I really enjoyed experimenting with different techniques in a small format and wanted to try postcards.  At that time Art2Mail was closed to new members, but they had created a waiting list for a new group.  A short time later that there were enough of us on the list and Franki Kohler  agreed to take charge of the new group.  I remember we had discussions about what we’d call ourselves, but can’t recall any of the other choices.

Since then I have joined a couple of other postcard groups.  They are all run a bit differently and have different “personalities.”  Time pressures have caused me to give up the other groups, but I will stick with Postmark’d Art.  I am trying, however, to limit my number of themes I sign up for each trading period.

When did you start making postcards?

I hadn’t made any until the Postmark’d Art group started.  A friend had joined another postcard group, and I had seen a couple of hers.  I remember searching the web for what to use in the middle and tips for finishing the edges. The Deck of Cards swap used regular playing cards for the base and we mailed them all in a package to the coordinator who parceled them back out, so I had no experience with making something that would actually go through the mail.

How do you display your postcards?

I have them in two large baskets in my living room. I periodically give the baskets a “stir” so that different cards will be visible on top.  I’m about ready to buy a third basket.  People are always interested in seeing the cards.  I finished my Round 14 cards at my guild retreat in April, and people were always stopping by the table to see what I was working on.  My husband always enjoys the ones I receive, but he does ask what’s going to happen when I run out of places to put the baskets.

What have been some of your favorite themes?

Wow, there have been so many good ones.  It’s always fun to see the suggestions we come up with at the beginning of each round.  In some cases I wonder what on earth someone would do with that theme, and then when I see the albums I wish I had signed up for it.  Some I’ve liked because I’ve especially enjoyed working on them, or my cards have come out really well, and others because the cards I’ve received had been especially great.  I have done Circles at least twice.  There is something very Zen-like in cutting circles of various sizes and colors, and maybe a few lines, and just playing with the arrangements.  I liked both the Fire and Water elements themes because I had gotten a needle felting machine and could play with that.  The Song Titles theme was fun because there were so many different songs, including my 40’s standard “Autumn Leaves” which some folks had never heard of.  Guess I was showing my age with that one.  I enjoyed the Photo to Fabric group in the last round.  I used a small part of a beach scene that I have been meaning to make into a wall hanging someday.  Playing with that in postcard size gave me some ideas about composition for a larger piece.

Tell me about your other interests.

I do a lot of reading.  I knit quite a bit and always have at least two projects going.  I also enjoy gardening.  Both of us dislike lawns, so most of our backyard is a garden.  I try for the cottage garden look, but sometimes it just seems messy, especially when it’s as dry as it has been this summer.  The birds enjoy it though, and we have become quite interested in bird and butterfly watching.   We love to travel and especially like poking around on back roads and in small towns.  I try to remember to always have my camera with me to record ideas for more quilts.

First Friday Studio Tour – Suzanna Bond

This month we are visiting with Suzanna Bond of Fullerton, California.  Suzanna has returned from Kenya just in time to give us this tour.

Do you call it a Studio or sewing room? Do you think of it as a business or a hobby?

It’s called my Sewing Room because it’s an inviting word. I think it’s a comfortable word for my family too:  Mom’s place. I like that.  I have a lovely portrait of my Aunt Mary Alice by the window and I always have her smiling face to see. She taught me to sew and I often think about what we talked about and how much fun we had.

When I’m away I say it’s a Studio. It makes me feel like a Grown-Up with Grown-Up work to do. I am in the nice time of life where I can work on my art freely without interruption. I can concentrate on my goals and keep a schedule. It’s not a business, but I think of it as work. It’s not a hobby to me because it absorbs most of my thought and time. The work has given me the ability to teach and train others. I go to Nairobi often to assist in skill development at a women’s workshop. This room is where all of it starts or ends; the dressmaking, the batik dying, oil portraits, beading, knitting and quilting happen here.

What do you have in the room? 

I have 4 small tables for individual uses. 3 rolling cabinets, 2 chairs, 1 printer, 2 bookshelves and an easel. I have quite a few sewing machines, the number of which could only be guessed, as they’re not all in this room!
Almost all my work is here, but not all my stuff.

My new thing is oil painting though I’ve always been an artist. I knew it would make all the difference in my art quilts and it has given me a lot of confidence and freedom. So I had to clear out a hide-a-bed to make room for an easel, lighting, cabinet and chair. Should have done that way sooner!

My favorite thing is my Singer 301 table. Ironically it has the Bernina 807 on it now, but taking out the removable insert for the machine to rest in has been a real pleasure for me. I got a black 301 at the Long Beach Swap Meet for $35 and I’m still telling that tale.

How do you store and organize your supplies?

I keep stuff in baskets and shelves and closets and under things and on top of things. I weed through stuff all the time and don’t have any trouble getting rid of it. Through the years I’ve had to scale back several times. I understand I don’t need it all to make what I want. I’m getting picky about what new techniques I try.

I arrange everything visually. I group things together because they look good that way or by the way it inspires me. You name it, I got it. No unusual supplies. The thing that makes this a special place for me creatively are my toys. Here and there are little dolls or objects that are special and go beyond a paint brush or spool. That’s what I’d like to point out.

I have a Carither’s Department Store Butterick flyer from my hometown framed in black as you see there. I love kitchen clocks and look for them in colors that match my walls and floors.

I have a small phonograph and records that I play, especially at Christmas. I also set up my iPad to watch Netflix and PBS. So great when I am moving around the room and see every scene of Sherlock Holmes. The iPad has been my second greatest sewing room tool!

I enjoy collage. I have a heap of snippets and wrappers, art supplies and tools. I’ll use it when it ferments and gets “just right.” I don’t nearly have as much fabric as I used to but you could never tell by looking. I’m a good little squirrel. Squirrels like yarn.

I have been using Tsukineko Ink lately on everything, so I keep that handy. The last few years of making postcards has helped me hone down what works for me – what I really enjoy. I can’t have everything out or it paralyzes me. I get all “Martha Stewart” about notions and tools. I tend to “go after” the room between big projects. I just finished a portrait quilt before going to Nairobi this month. I had a few garments I wanted to make so I needed to clear out the stuff to clear my head. Going from one discipline to another means I have to be organized. I LOVE different tools. I like taking care of them too. I like my stuff and that’s how I enjoy it even more.

Fabrics separated by type, by project, then by color. Threads are separated by colors and uses, some hidden and some out for inspiration. Lots of labels on things. My friend Kristen Evans has me sharp on those. An organized person has to have an Organizational Mentor. I keep a daily schedule and calendar, a new thing for me, but I can sure see how much more I get done!

Do you have any particular thing you’d like to share?

When we moved into this house a few years ago I was able to get Pergo flooring, extra canister lighting and custom closet shelving.

As a young mommy Tim found me crying late one night about not having a place to sew! I do not take my space for granted.


Design wall

Never enough closet space right? That’s why I make good use of every closet. In every room.

Sewing room closet


 Sewing room closet

My son’s room

The “Linen Closet”

We gladly welcomed our son back for a stay. The room that kept all my bed quilts clean and pretty is better used now. I have the organizational gene. One per family.

The stack

Thank you Suzanna. I love the clocks and the knitting needle storage.

Next month:  Franki Kohler