May 272009

In the last few weeks, a number of BBEST members have lost family members or friends who have succumbed to serious illnesses or long-term diseases. One of the advantages of belonging to an Etsy street team like BBEST is that when these personal losses occur, team members typically express messages of hope and support. Although I have not lost a family member recently, a close friend of mine did. The story of her daughter, Maura, was followed by many on the BBEST team, who posted messages of support on her mother’s blog, lit candles for Maura, and said prayers. This post is dedicated not only to Maura, but also to the memory of anyone we have recently loved and lost.

Maura was a 22-year-old college student at Sam Houston State University in Houston, Texas. She majored in music with an emphasis in voice. (See news story and video here.) Everyone who knew Maura thought of her not only as a talented opera singer, but also as a kind and compassionate person—someone who was inspiring and a wonderful role model. One year ago, she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of sarcoma when tumors were discovered in her abdomen. From that point on, she dedicated herself to a rigorous course of medical treatments including surgery and chemo. At the same time, she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree, earning magna cum laude honors. Because Maura was too ill to attend her own commencement exercises, the administration of her college brought graduation to her hospital room. One week later at her home, she passed away.

Maura’s favorite flower was the sunflower, a flower whose stalk stretches tall and whose bright yellow head faces the sky in the same way that Maura carried herself throughout her short life. Many were touched by her struggle to stay alive, and by her faith. At her funeral, about 800 family members and friends filled the church with the sunflowers she loved. While none of the BBEST members who followed her story were able to attend Maura’s funeral, we can still honor her memory in our own way, and at the same time bid a last farewell to those we have recently lost. That being said, below are “sunflowers” in the BBEST tradition.

Nov 122008

The art quilt has been born, and is evolving as quickly as artists can locate and experiment with new materials. Their world is peppered with phrases such as rust dyeing, sunprinting and burned-edge applique. Yes, quilt layers can still be stitched or tied together, but they can also be fused or stapled or buttoned. Instead of fabric, an artist might use newspapers, paper bags or even upcycled metal beverage cans or plastic soda bottles. Fabrics are just as likely to be painted or distressed as they are to be dyed.

A burgeoning world of new fibers, textiles and techniques is available for experimentation, and a number of BBEST artisans are leading the way in this exploration. Marion Barnett of artmixter, for example, writes about a textile called Lutradur in her e-book called “Lovely Lutradur,” available both in her Etsy shop and through her blog.

Rust as an artistic medium is explored by Liz Plummer. In her Dilapidation wall hanging, for example, she describes the “rusted silk habutai fabric which was originally hidden underneath linen squares, stitched in a grid pattern which was then cut back to reveal the rusty fabric underneath.”

Gunnel Svensson has mounted her art quilt on a wood gallery frame. It consists of handpainted fabric, with a thick carpet of embroidery fibers.

Finally, Margaret of libertybelle melds together fabric, embroidery, buttons, and a photo transfer on Lutradur to create a fabric post card.

Today’s quilts are not just for comfort, color or home decor. If you are interested in learning more about any of the techniques these BBEST artists use to create their version of a quilt, you may wish to read Fabric Art Workshop: Exploring Techniques & Materials for Fabric Artists & Quilters, by Susan Stein.

© 2008 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at

Jul 292008

Etsy artists from the Boomers and Beyond Etsy Street Team (BBEST) showcase a “Field of Flowers” (chosen by me) in this video assembled by clay artist Pearl Peters of Fehu Stoneware. Thank you, Pearl!

See the list following the video for shop addresses.

Featured shops:

© 2008 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in the video are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at