Wednesday, March 21, 2018

On the Road Visiting Fiber Exhibits- New Art Center, Newton, MA.

Stitch: Syntax/Action/Reaction

February 16- March 24, 2018

New Art Center, 16 Washington Park, Newton, MA 02460

Curated by Jessica Burko and Samantha Fields

 “The Artists in STITCH create work that relies on powerful language of techniques and material to convey meaning. Using a myriad of materials, STITCH explores fiber as a creator of culture and language. Live artmaking and presentations by the artists highlight techniques while exposing new ways of piecing together disparate ideas”.

I recently visited this exhibit with two friends. As both a textile and quilt lover I was attracted by the title. It was an eclectic array of two and three dimensional fiber pieces - meaning they each seemingly stood on their own rather than as part of a unified whole. I’m still not sure if that was part of the strength or a weakness in the message the curators meant to convey. It did pique my interest as I examined the items on display. I questioned how each was made with a how and a why, and if I could relate to the end result.

Interestingly, some pieces seemed to be anti-fiber, like the Tyvek quilt and video loop of a person impersonating a knitting stitch through repetitive movement. More fiber-like was Destiny Palmer’s “70 of 454, 1788” stitched rectangular patchwork instillation. Each rectangle was a representation of the enclosed space a person occupied in the cargo hold of a slave ship. It was at once incredibly disturbing as you imagined yourself confined in a 16” x 70” space allotted for each women and oddly comforting appearing as a huge oversized quilt alluding to warmth. 

“70 of 454, 1788”  by Destiny Palmer

 Another intriguing contrast was Merrill Comeau’s “A Women’s Work is Never Done” displayed as a scattered wall of odd shaped and labeled cloth pieces. At first they seemed like leftover textile samples or discarded dry cleaning items. Upon closer inspection the individual pieces showed an array of intricate stitches and overdyed areas unique to each. Located near her display Comeau has neatly arranged a basket of sewing tools and threads integral in executing the expert skill in which she has handled her work. The intimate care, repair, and display of these items contradict the negative title often associated with woman’s work. 

 “A Women’s Work is Never Done” of by Merrill Comeau
Essentially, seeing this exhibit was thought provoking and reminds me why I choose to value the work of creating, sewing, and producing items that can be at once useful and controversial part of preserving our social fabric. 

 Happy Quilting & Visiting Exhibits,


Monday, October 9, 2017

Mary's Quilting Tips- How to attach your hanging sleeve in the binding step.

Adding a sleeve for hanging your quilt is much easier to do when you are attaching the binding to the quilt. The end result will be a quilt that hangs more evenly and securely.  



1. Cut a Strip of fabric 10" wide and 11/2" shorter than the width of your quilt.

2. Finish the short ends of the sleeve using a 1/4" hem. 
Stitch and press. 


3. Fold the sleeve's long raw edges together bottom to top with the wring sides together. Press. 


4. Stitch the binding to the front of the quilt using a 1/4" seam allowance.



5. Place a pin at the centers of the quilt top edge and the sleeves raw edges. Align pins, then pin together the sleeve and quilt top. Stitch through all layers with an 1/8" seam allowance back stitching at both ends.   


6. Fold the binding to the back of the quilt. Pin and blind stitch the binding in place encasing the top of the sleeve in the binding. 

7. After the binding is sewn on, pin the underneath sides of the short stitched sleeve ends, (the ones that touch the back of the quilt) then the long bottom edge of the sleeve. Blind stitch in place. Add a couple of extra stitches at the sleeve top and bottom corners to add  strength to the sleeve.

8. Cut a dowel or wooden slat the same length as your finished sleeve. Attach a 1/2" screw eye hardware to each end of the wooden dowel or slat. Thread the dowel through the sleeve opening making sure the screw eye is protruding beyond the edge of the sleeve ends for hanging. Your quilt is now ready to hang. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ahhh! Tomatoes.

If you live in New England where the growing season is so short you can relate to the sheer giddiness of harvesting your first tomato! Shortly after that though
you have a pressing responsibility to preserve all of your gardens bounty.
Note: Dropping of zucchini on your neighbors porch under the cover of darkness doesn't count!

As a kid I spent too many late summer days participating in a tomato assembly line canning tomatoes. I get a little psycho recalling the itchy tomato juice running down my elbows from peeling hot tomatoes.
My method of preserving tomatoes is easier and much more satisfying than slaving over a hot stove and sink.

This method of roasting tomatoes is easy and quite adaptable to use what you have available.

Roasted Tomatoes 

 2 cups of cherry tomatoes.
1/4C. good olive oil plus more to cover tomatoes.
1/2 tsp. sea salt.

1. Wash and pat dry tomatoes.
2. Arrange them in a single layer in a glass baking dish.
3. Drizzle with olive oil.
4. Sprinkle with sea salt.
5. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until tender and caramelizing.
6. Spoon tomatoes into a wide mouth canning jar that will just fit your tomatoes. Leave about 1" of head-space. You don't want a lot of extra room left in the jar. 
7. Cover your tomatoes with olive oil and cap with a plastic canning jar lid.

Note: These tomatoes are great added to salads, sandwiches or as a garnish to soups. I haven't tried larger tomatoes yet but suggest halving them, then slicing them 1/2" thick so they hold their shape when roasting. You could also add a sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary to your jars.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Womans Day and the Nylon Ceiling

In the wee hours of the day I scrolled through my social media accounts to catch up on some of the longer articles I saved to read. It's March 8th " Woman's Day" in March Woman's Month! Wear red today. Well why? At first I was charmed by the cute and empowering tidbits, then I wasn't. February was Black History Month. I thought about the history and the social dogging of the black culture. How the media still wants us to be wary and afraid of our black neighbors and friends. As an artist/quilt maker, I admit, I am jealous of the "person of color" label. I want to be a person of color it sounds better than vanilla.

LeadvilleTwins Quilt by Sandra Townsend Donabed

Recently at a family gathering I was puzzling about an interview our son had. I was intrigued with what impression he made. What do men see in other men to hire? What qualities do they knowingly seek out? Is it an unspoken language that they share in order to give a young man a start. Man's responsibility to man? A Handshake...
I realized that women don't have the same language to hire or get hired. Why don't we feel the same responsibility to each other? To monetize our skills and efforts to further ourselves and our families? The glass ceiling still exists but what about what I'm calling the "Nylon Ceiling". Meaning how do other women measure  and support each other for success? We don't, we're stuck without a positive language to value our backbone and talents. We're using a language quantified by men, high school, and the media. Where are the working women emoji's?
Back to March being woman's month. It implies that we were compromised too and need our own month to be exonerated from a historical period of mistreatment. Ironically women have had to change and will continue to change to succeed.
I was myself yesterday, will be today, and tomorrow. I'm pretty sure I'll still be myself next month too. Still ready to express the words and practices needed to support and create a better environment for working women (and men).
Today I'm thinking of my dear departed friend Helen,she had some words, and her brilliant daughter struggling to get through college and into grad school with bare bones support. I applaud her tenacity and her future. Power on ladies!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

March - In Like a Lion & Cauliflower Stuffing

Last weekend we had a record warm day, this weekend a record cold. I was all about a salad and thinking spring until 
the temperature dropped shifting quickly back into soup mode. Craving a good turkey gumbo and a warm kitchen finds me cooking the turkey that will eventually become gumbo. I really can't see cooking a turkey without all the accessories, stuffing, squash, and potatoes, then soup to keep us fed for a week. I love stuffing but I don't want to be stuffed into my "I can't wait"  for summer clothes. I like the idea of adding cauliflower into my stuffing but the true test will be passing it by my mister who takes his job as the food police quite seriously.

Cauliflower Stuffing
1 medium cauliflower washed and cut into small 1/2" florets.
1 medium onion cut into a 1/4" dice
2 stalks of Celery cut into a 1/4" dice
1/4 c. butter
1 c. reserved cauliflower cooking water
1 t. poultry seasoning
1/2 t. salt
4-5 slices toasted bread cut into 1/2" cubes or 2c.of your favorite herb stuffing.
1. Cook prepared cauliflower in 4 cups water over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until tender. Reserve 1c. of the cooking water for the stuffing mix.
2. In a small saucepan on medium heat melt the butter and add the prepared onion, celery, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Saute for 8-10 minutes until soft.

3. In a large bowl combine the stuffing, reserved cooking water, sauteed vegetables and cauliflower. Stir until the breadcrumbs soften and everything is evenly mixed.  

4. Stuff your Turkey.* Note: this recipe stuffed a 15lb. turkey. Roast your turkey at 350 oven for 25 minutes per pound or 31/2 - 4 hours.

Extra stuffing can be cooked along with the chicken or turkey in a buttered casserole dish for 35 -45 minutes.

I loved this stuffing its a keeper!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Quilts and the Power of Suggestion

The power of suggestion is a beautiful thing. My Mister is sick. A winter cold is chasing him. Only time and a little TLC is going to fix it. What to do, what to do. Make him a cup of tea with honey & orange peel then tell him it will clear his head. Next break out a quilt to cover him. The idea of a quilt covering you is far better than a plain blanket, just as making your own  cup of tea isn't nearly as satisfying a cure. 
Next I suggest a nap as I quietly plan to race over to my studio to quilt. See everybody feels better! 

It's a grey, blue, brown, cold winter's day. This quilt reminds  me of the colors outside today.
Welsh #6 © Mary Walter Quilts


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sharing a Table Sharing the World

I am not Chinese! Yet in anticipation of the Chinese New Year I gleefully headed to the Asian market knowing that there would be a well stocked assortment of specialty foods available. I was not disappointed. 
More than 25 years ago I inherited a job in a small Chinese restaurant from a friend who was leaving town. Despite my culture coma the owner Rose Lee took me under her wing  introducing me to the intense art of Dim Sum. She taught me, fed me, and showed me how we all can share a common language around the table. This is what happened in my kitchen. Thank You Rose Lee!