SAQA AK Meeting September 29, 2015

This is a shorter version of the email recently sent to AK SAQA members. For complete details on the meeting, refer to that email.

We had a great September meeting. Amy Meissner, Diane Melms, Cat Larrea, Gail Ramsey, Barb Hanson, Nancy Sopp, Carrie Payne, Julie Drake, and Maria Shell were in attendance. The meeting was held at the Kaladi Brothers on Brayton from one to three in the afternoon.

Julie Drake said she had a great time at the Chicago International Contemporary Art Expo held at the Navy Pier in Chicago. She highly recommended it. 

Our next meeting is scheduled for Friday November 6th at Amy Meissner’s home from 10AM - 11:30AM. Please refer to the latest email from SAQA where you will find directions and Amy’s contact info.

Our next group exhibition, Art Cloth North, is scheduled for February 2016 at the in Anchorage. Show guidelines are currently listed on the SAQA Calls for Entry page.  AK SAQA members may submit up to four pieces for consideration in this juried show. The application deadline is October 31, 2015.

If you are submitting work for Art Cloth North, be sure to have hi-quality images. 1800 pixels or MORE is recommended. If accepted into the show, artists will need to send a short bio for the show book.

For the first Art Cloth North, which was held in November 2014, AK SAQA member Diane Melms created a show book featuring works by each of the artists as well as an artist statement. Diane Melms has agreed to create a show book for the 2016 show. Cat Larrea has agreed to create template based on the 2016 show book which can then be used for future shows.

We want to try and find a venue for the 2017 Art Cloth North show. If you have an idea of a good place for us to present a group show, please let us know.

Show and Tell included these fabulous hand dyed fabrics. 

You can learn more about the hand dying adventure by visiting this recent AK SAQA blog post.

Please join us for the next meeting at Amy’s house!

And if you have interesting news to share, please email Maria Shell so we can put it on the blog!

Simple Silk Dyeing with AK SAQA Member Wendy Smith-Wood

AK SAQA member and guest blogger Barb Hanson shares a recent fabric dyeing adventure in this blog post.

WHAT:  Simple Silk Dyeing Workshop by Wendy Smith-Wood
WHO:  2 experienced (read that as PROs) fabric dyers and 2 inexperienced, meaning nothing, nada, well maybe a class at Color Creek years ago
WHEN:  Friday through Sunday, September 26 – 28

We (Cat Larrea, Diane Melms, Faye Stein, and Barb Hanson) drove our way to Palmer and stopped for a tasty lunch at Turkey Red and then enjoyed the full colors of autumn the next hour and a half as we headed north towards the Sheep Mountain area.  The weather was turning as we arrived, but we settled into the comfortable cabins and changed into painting togs and Wendy gave us a preview of the next two days.

Both Diane and Cat are very experienced fabric dyers using cottons in their work. 

The silk (and Wendy had many varieties of cloth to choose from including broadcloth, crepe, twill, chiffon and Crepe de Chine) was beautiful. 

The big difference that the two pros saw right off the bat was the time involved in the process was much less; so one could do much more experimenting in a short amount of time.  Also, it really was amazing to dip, dribble, squirt, and plunge the fabric into the dye and then prep for ‘cooking’ and place a sample into the microwave to set the dye.  Two minutes later, ‘voila’ the sample was done.  It was cooled a bit, removed from its plastic wrap covering, rinsed and put out on the line to dry.  

Of course, the first morning the weather didn’t cooperate very well and the dryer inside the studio was needed to complete the drying process, but once dried and ironed the pieces looked stunning.

So, key concepts for silk dyeing:

  • An acid dye is used on protein fibers (silk, wool, alpaca, mohair)
  • An acid bath is required to complete the dye-bond – usually citric acid or white vinegar – the dyes are chemically bound to the fiber at a molecular level and not painted on surface
  • We used a Direct Application method for our small batches

  1. Pre-soak fabric in acid solution. 
  2. Mix the dye colors from dye-stocks. 
  3. Apply the dyes to the fabric.
  4. Set the dyes. 
  5. Rinse out excess dyes under running warm water.

End result are some lovely pieces for the next project.

For more information, contact Wendy Smith-Wood, and

An Invitation to Study with Ann Johnston

To Alaska SAQA members,

I'm seeking those interested and able to attend Ann Johnston’s workshop, "Approaches to Quilt Design with Raw-edge, Reverse Appliqué", in Lake Oswego.  The dates of the workshop would be December 7th through 11th (Mon-Fri).  

Information about Ann and this workshop can be found at her website.

Anyone who dyes their own fabrics for art quilts probably is familiar with some or all of Ann’s publications and works.  While her summer workshops are all about dying, the fall classes are about what to do with your lovelies!  

My ideal vision is for 3-4 of us to fill and “all Alaska” workshop (space is for four).  There are plenty of hotel options nearby and shared rooms might be a way to economize.  Ann provides lunches during the day, and coffee, fruit and bakery items for a light breakfast.  

ALSO, if anyone is interested in extending a day or two in Portland, there are some great fabric stores to visit.

Please contact me at with Quilt Design Workshop as the subject title if you have any questions or would like to know more about logistics and costs of taking the workshop.  I’d like to have commitments no later than October 15. You can also reach me via my website.


Reliquary by AK SAQA Member Amy Meissner

Amy Meissner's Reliquary is currently being exhibited at the Bunnell Street Arts Center in Homer, Alaska. 

Here is what Amy has to say about her work.

"Hand stitching isn’t fast work. It’s a quiet skill that feels tenuous, nearly lost when placed in a contemporary context.”

“Slipping fast away, like childhood, like domesticity, like safety beneath the weight of something handmade.”

“I sew because I don’t know what it is to not sew, because I come from sewing women--seamstresses, factory workers, embroiderers, mothers--my work explores this tradition, couching it in the uncomfortable, or the unsafe, or the frustrating.”

“I’m inspired by textiles with the heft and history of the domestic--items so lovingly made that they’ve become precious, burdensome to store, impossible to use.”

“I’m inspired by the time it takes to work by hand, the drudgery of repetition. The work takes hours, the meaning shifts, deepens, but never loses its initial impulse.

Generations of sewing women said, “Mend it, save it for your children...the fabric is still good.” 

“In my reverence I do the unthinkable: I cut it apart.”  

“Then I slowly piece myself into it."

If you can’t make it to Homer, Alaska to see the show this month, you are still in luck. Reliquary will show again in the ConocoPhillips Gallery in Grant Hall at APU in February 2016. 

And if you would like to know more about Amy’s work and process please visit her website and blog.

Upcoming SAQA Webinar with Maria Shell

The Art of the Word: Getting Grants and Other Art Opportunities by Crafting a Well-Written Proposal
Thursday, June 25 at 1 pm ET

After rave reviews at the recent SAQA conference, we asked Maria to share her presentation with the larger SAQA membership on a Mentorship Webinar. She graciously agreed. Maria’s webinar will touch on several topics including doing the work, networking, applying and following through. Take a look at Maria’s art work and read her blog to get an idea of her vision and experience.

Please click the following link to register. 

If you can not attend the live webinar, SAQA members will have access to the full audio and video recording on the SAQA website a few days after the event.

SAQA uses ET as our official organization time zone. Use the following link to covert ET to your local time zone.

April Coffee Talk Meeting Reminder

This is just a quick reminder to our members that our next informal Coffee Talk is scheduled for Tuesday April 14th at 1PM.

We will be meeting at the Kaladi Brothers on Brayton Drive. Here is a map if you need one. 

We meet in the backroom with Nixon, but you don’t have to be a crook to join us. 

We will be sharing ideas, inspiration, and quilts!

YUM. Coffee. Conversation. Art.

We hope to see you there!

March 2015 Informal Meeting

On March 5th, SAQA AK members Faye Stiehm, Marsha Burns, Amy Meissner, Sandy Winfree, Diane Melms, Gail Ramsay, and Nan Thompson (by telephone), gathered at the Brayton Road Kaladi Brothers for coffee and conversation.

The group welcomed new member Marsha Burns.We are glad you have joined us!

Nan Thompson from Seward, Alaska joined us via Skype. She is bringing quilt instructor Rana Gillman to Alaska to teach Aug 22 - 24 (Friday - Monday).  Nan is looking for a space in Anchorage to host this 20 student class.  If you have any suggestions about a teaching space, or want to take the workshop, please let her know.  She can be reached at  351-6812 or 

Diane Melms talked about our upcoming gallery exhibition at blue.holomon gallery in November. This will be our second annual exhibition.  Although we still need to have a meeting to finalize details with gallery owner Gina Holloman, we think we will have similar entry requirements and schedule as last year, but more pieces might be submitted - up to five per person. We assume the jurors will still select a similar number of pieces as last year (approximately 20-25).  

We discussed Maria Shell's idea of having an annual statewide SAQA meeting to coincide with the show’s opening on November 6, 2015.  Members present decided we could easily host our out of town members in our guest rooms for the weekend and maybe have a studio tour and perhaps some classes or workshops. If we want to do this we will need volunteers to organize and make arrangements for this gathering. Feedback would be appreciated.

We also talked about the possibility of requesting one of the SAQA "Trunk Shows" for that possible meeting. There are just a few available for that time frame (they have 8 sets available to loan), but it would be nice to see real examples of work from other SAQA artists. We do have funds available for the $50 fee charged for shipping that mini show.  To learn more about SAQA’s trunk shows, you can by clicking here.

Sandy Winfree shared several new pieces of her wonderful shibori and wet felting.  She said the wet felting shrinks 35%.  She also folds up her large quilts for shipping and has no problem with the shibori or anything getting wrinkled.

Amy Meissner brought three pieces that will be exhibited in her solo show called “Reliquary” at the Bunnel Street Arts Center solo in Homer, Alaska this coming June.  The pieces featured wonderful hand stitching and vintage fibers.  She also brought a sample of her timekeeping sheets for us to look at. She logged 24 hours on just one section of french knots!

Gail Ramsay showed her newest experiment in “Comic Strip Quilting”.  She is planning to write a quilt book on the subject and include projects as well as methods for quilters to create their own comics.  This piece is a super fun table runner.

Diane Melms brought 4 parts of a very large (79” square) piece she has been working on for several weeks.  The work features curved lines in her fabulous solid hand-dyed fabrics. While those who were at the meeting got to see pieces of this quilt, the rest of us will have to wait....
Diane also shared “Cool Mints” a finished piece made from solids and stripes.

If members are looking for an educational fiber experience, they should visit the Sami Exhibition at the Anchorage Museum .  The exhibition features a 50 foot long embroidered piece as well as other amazing story textiles. AK SAQA member Amy Meissner shared her experiences with the show and lectures on her blog.

Thank you Gail Ramsay for taking notes and photos during the meeting.

Our next informal coffee talk will be at the same Kaladi Brothers on Brayton Street on Tuesday April 14th at 1pm.  Hope to see you there!!

Cat Larrea and SAQA's exhibition Food for Thought

Cat Larrea’s piece “Clam Chowder: Step 1” has been selected to be part of SAQA's traveling exhibition Food for Thought

Here is what Cat has to say about the piece-

While digging in the mud for razor clams with a hundred or so other like-minded folk, I never worried about losing sight of my friend in the crowd because of her bright orange gloves that somehow managed to stay mud free.  The relative greyness of the day and shimmery mud was the perfect neutral background for the bit of color in her clothes and those amazing gloves.”

The Food for Thought Show Schedule is international.

National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Kentucky – April - June 2015
Festival of Quilts (FOQ), Birmingham, England – August 2015
The Knitting & Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, London, October 7-11, 2015
The Knitting & Stitching Show, Dublin, Ireland, November 12-15, 2015
The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate, November 26-29, 2015

Congratulations Cat!

If you have news, please do share by contacting AK SAQA member Maria Shell at 

February 2015 Informal Meeting

Last Tuesday, February 3rd, the Alaska SAQA members informally gathered at thh Kaladi Brothers on Brayton for coffee and conversation. 

Members Gail Ramsay, Diane Melms, Cat Larrea, Amy Meissner, Julie Drake, Faye Stiehm, and Maria Shell were at the coffee shop, and Nan Thompson called in for the conversation.

We discussed art quilt news and reviewed an assortment of fiber periodicals that might be of interest to our members including UpperCase, American Craft, and The Professional Artist Magazine.

We had a really amazing show and tell. Here is just a sampling of what our members shared.

Julie Drake is taking an online Design Principles class with Lisa Call. 

Faye Stiehm shared the unusual and beautiful color palette she has been working with.

Diane Melms is busy taking repurposed textiles to a new level,

She is also thinking about buttons.

We discussed with Cat Larrea her current challenge of creating a commissioned work based on textiles from Burma.

Amy Miessner is working on new pieces for her solo exhibition at the Bunnell Street Arts Center this coming June. Her current work isn’t portable, but she shared some online images. 

Gail Ramsay demonstrated a handy new drafting tool she discovered while at the American Quilter’s Society show in Albuquerque, New Mexico

It’s called a Roll-n-Ruler . You find out more about it here. 

We hope you will join us in March for some coffee and quality conversation.

Here is the message about our next informal meeting from our SAQA Co-Reps Gail Ramsay and Diane Melms-

“We've scheduled our next informal gathering for 5 March, 10:30 - 12:30.  This is a Thursday.  We will still meet at the Kaladi Brothers on Brayton.  Please let me know if you WILL attend.  We changed the day of the week and tweeked the time and I want to be sure it works for most people. For those of you not in Anchorage, please let us know if you want to skype or facetime in and we will work it out.”

Email Gail at to let her know you will be attending.

And as always, if you are a AK SAQA member with news to share, email Maria Shell at

Nan Thompson's Solo Show at Great Harvest Bread Company

We'd like to invite all of you to join AK SAQA member Nan Thompson for the opening of her solo show EXPLORATIONS  at Great Harvest Bread Company this Friday evening February 6th from 4 - 6 PM.

Nancy's abstract work is a colorful feast for the eyes.

Most of Nan's work is improvisationally cut and pieced.

The work will be on display for the month of February.

If you miss the opening there is still plenty of time to enjoy Nan's work.

The Great Harvest Bread Company is located at 570 EASt Benson Boulevard, Anchorage, Alaska. They are open Monday through Saturday from seven in the morning until six pm.

If you are an Alaska SAQA member with news or events to share, please email Maria Shell at