Saturday, May 11, 2013

Best. Quilt. Book. Ever. (and Giveaway)

If you have to be stuck on an airplane with one quilt book, here's the one you want: Martha Sielman's People & Portraits.
I know, because last month I was stuck on a trans-continental flight from LA to JFK, on Virgin, with this as my only book. (I won it from Linda Teddlie Minton's awesome art quilt blog - thanks, Linda!)   The book arrived just as we were leaving town, so I threw it in my backpack on the way out the door.

But, to tell you the truth, although I am always thrilled to win something (anything!), a book of portrait quilts would not have been on the top of my wish list. For one thing, some portrait quilts are a little odd. Take mine. Please.

Photo of beautiful young lady, my DD, taken years ago by my friend Liz (thanks, Liz!):
My resulting quilt. 
Okay, for a first try. I worked directly from the photograph, following the same easy procedure as for my tree portrait. But what's up with the reaching Dementor arms in her hair? And is she running a fever? The rosy, almost malarial, cheeks are so much subtler in the photo (and real life.) Let's not even discuss what's happening where her shirt sleeves end. 

Fortunately, my husband loved it and claimed it for his office, so I don't have to contemplate its flaws on a daily basis.

It is a real challenge to make a portrait that sings. And to get really good at it - like anything else - you probably should make a lot of them. YOU really should. Having gotten one that one out of my system, I figured I was done with human portrait quilts for a while. 

Until the plane ride. 

As I was reading The Book, I thought to myself: I have a LOT of quilt books. In many respects, this  might actually be The. Best. One. 

Although it's softcover and small enough to read in a cramped airplane seat, in spirit it's a coffee table book. 

For one thing, it's lavish. Who the heck publishes 200 page quilt books? With one or more color masterpieces on virtually EVERY page? The portraits range in style from photographic to cartoonish, thread-drawn to pointillist, and everything in between. There are even artists who pretty much leave facial details out completely - no eyes, no nose, no mouth - an approach that I feel has tremendous potential for my particular skill set.

The cover photo, is Marie Elkins' Windblown, (also on the book cover at the top of this post). What Elkins did with the quilted feathers in the hair and background is breathtaking.

Among the 88 artists whose work appears in the book, some are famous, and many are not.  My favorite quilt in the book is by Maine quilter, Holly Hascall Dominie, called 'Irrepressible.'
Holly Haskell Dominie's quilt, 'Irrepressible.' Used with permission of Sterling  Publishing.  See this and another of her astonishing portrait quilts by scrolling halfway down on this page  
I had a ton of other 2nd favorite quilts and quilters in the book. These include the elegant nightlife quilts of Colette Berends, an extraordinarily creative textile artist who sadly died last year, according to her website; Sherry Davis Kleinman; Margene Gloria Ray; Phyllis Cullen, Marilyn Belford, and on and on. I'm randomly picking another favorite quilt to show you, because I'm a sucker for glassblowing, and for blue-and-orange color schemes.
Jenny Bowker's 'Hassan and the Glass'. Used with permission  of Sterling Publishing. 
What's unusual even for a coffee table book are the extensive chapters, about 21 portrait quilters, discussing their art, influences and techniques in well-edited detail. There are no projects, but the technique information is enough to go on if you want to try. 

Author Martha Sielman is head of the Studio Art Quilters Association. She and the creative team at Sterling/Lark - editor Amanda Corestio, the designers and the producers - should win prizes for this  book. I send them all my thanks for a job done to perfection, and for making my plane ride as pleasant as it could be.

Now if only they could arrange for more leg room.

GIVEAWAY WINNER UPDATE: 5/18/13: The randomly-selected winner is of the book is the 17th commenter below, Marilyn. Congrats, Marilyn, and thanks to all who came by! (You're welcome to comment some more, but the giveaway is done!)

89 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to make a portrait quilt, but never known how to quilt it. I think I need this book to show me all the options available.

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  2. Sounds like a great book. I am afraid my skillset is also below cartoon level, but maybe having this book would give me the courage and what-the-hechniques to try a portrait!
    Elana Schachter
    Tzfat

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  4. Thank you for sharing your enthusiastic review of this book! It would make a great addition to my collection.

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  5. I knew which book you meant even before I saw the title on you blog. I have been eyeing this book for ages ever since Phyllis Cullen's great workshop here in Israel last summer on quilted portraits. I have craved a book that shows how lots of wonderful fiber artists render portraits in quilts and how they thread paint the faces. I'd be so happy to have a copy of this one! It's a treasure. Take care, Cindy

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  6. ohhh this is a book that is on my want list! I've been reading the reviews and can't wait to read it. I haven't done portraits but maybe this will inspire me to do one - especially of my daughter who is so lovely - but doesn't know it!

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  7. Thanks for your post! I think I may have to find this one and check it out.

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  8. Thank you! Your enthusiasm and delight makes me want to give this style and concept a try. Having this book as my guide would be awesome. Peggy Ellis

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  9. I've seen Marie Elkins' piece before (at least, on-line) and marveled at it every time -- would love to see what others have done.

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  10. Portrait quilts are so much fun to make! I took a class with Esterita Austin one year on making portrait quilts. I immediately came home and tried it out for myself. My techniques were not polished but I pushed on! The results turned into a gift for my mother in law. I used a photo that I had taken of her when visiting one year.
    If you would like to see a picture of it visit my blog. You have inspired me to write about this quilt today. http://kathyzieben.wordpress.com/

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  11. I have wanted to get this book ever since I first heard about it, and your review makes it even more of a goal. Everyone I know who has seen the book has raved about it.

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  12. I have wanted to get this book since I first heard about it. Everyone I know who has the book has raved about it. I think portraits are a challenging and fun genre of quilting, and I love to see how different people's results are.

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  13. Wow. Such great inspiration. I've thought many times of creating a portrait quilt, but was always intimidated. This book proves that there is hope.

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  14. I've always thought portraits to be beyond my capabilities, perhaps this book would encourage me to step outta my box.

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  15. The quilts you've shown are astonishing. I would love to own this book.

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  16. Wow - the pictures you show from the book are simply amazing!!! I would love to see more! I've never thought I could do a portrait quilt. I dabble occasionally in an art quilt here and there, but mostly I have shied away from anything so detailed. But it would be an excellent challenge quilt to have on the bucket list - and I think I just may have to pencil it in! Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

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  17. Wow!!! Looks like a fabulous book! I've loved the cover quilt since I first saw photos of it, and I recently had an Empty Spools seminar with Jenny Bowker, so I know how wonderful her portrait quilts (and all her others!) are. Thank you for the opportunity to win this book!

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  18. Maria Elkins has been an inspiration for years, Hollis Chatelain also. I have stuck with printing my photographs, but maybe this book would lead me past that.
    Marilyn

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    1. Marilyn, you are the winner of the book! Please email me at cathy (dot)perlmutter(at)gmail(dot)com for information about how to get your book! (If I don't hear back from you in three days, the prize will go to someone else). Thanks to all for entering!

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  19. I love portrait quilts. I began one in a class with Charlotte Warr Anderson, and one day I will get back to it!

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  20. I love portrait quilts. One day I will finish the one I began in a class with Charlotte Warr Anderson...

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  21. Oh, Cathy, I think you are being too hard on yourself. Your portrait quilt is gorgeous, albeit in a different style from what you'd probably do today. I'd love to see what you do next!

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  22. This looks incredibly inspiring. It looks like it would offer great lessons from the masters in using value and blending, so important in portraits.

    Eyes and hair are the hardest for me! I loved your description of "dementer arms" in the hair. You write well! Usually I draw "spaghetti hair," a term I learned from an artist who has excellent drawing lesson videos online. (For drawing hair, for example, see: http://www.proko.com/how-to-draw-hair/ NFI, I just like the videos a lot. I have been trying to master his lessons on eyes.) Anyway, it would be lovely to see this book and the work of those who have excelled with these things!

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  23. This looks incredibly inspiring. It looks like it would offer great lessons from the masters in using value and blending, so important in portraits.

    Eyes and hair are the hardest for me! I loved your description of "dementer arms" in the hair. You write well! Usually I draw "spaghetti hair," a term I learned from an artist who has excellent drawing lesson videos online. (For drawing hair, for example, see: http://www.proko.com/how-to-draw-hair/ NFI, I just like the videos a lot. I have been trying to master his lessons on eyes.) Anyway, it would be lovely to see this book and the work of those who have excelled with these things!

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  24. What a work of art. I've never tried anything other than regular quiling. Year ago I drew a few portraits of my kids and niece.

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  25. Hope I am not double-posting - I sent a reply earlier but there was a strange "hiccup" when I clicked Publish, and it seems to have disappeared. This book looks very inspiring! I struggle with some aspects of faces - hair and eyes especially (loved your description of the Dementer arms in hair!). I would love to see how the masters approach these areas, as well as handling value and blended transitions. Thanks for offering this!

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  26. I am new into art quilting sounds like this would be a good book to try

    barb

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  27. I've been eyeing that book!! I took a portrait class from Quilt University (Marilyn Belford-great teacher!) YEARS ago and started a quilt but have never finished it :-( I am obsessed with these quilts and one day I hope to finish mine!
    I would love a chance to win this book, but if I don't win, it is on my shopping list!

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  28. This is something that I always thought would be too difficult, but based on your portrait quilt, I think I can make one too! It doesn't have to be as complex as I imagined; it could be simplified with awesome results!! Thanks for sharing!

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  29. Just followed a link to your blog and now I need to read more! This book looks amazing! I've never tried a portrait quilt but if I did it would be of my grandchildren. After all, my world revolves around them. Really.

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  30. I love reading quilting books and this one intrigues me because it is not a how-to book but rather an art/coffee table book. It sounds very inspiring and I am sure that the beautiful images would motivate me to attempt a portrait quilt.

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  31. I haven't tried anything like this yet but seeing the photos makes it very tempting.
    Coming from you I'm sure it's doable, everything you taught me was doable.

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  32. This book sounds really interesting because it is not a how- to book but rather an art/coffee table book. It sounds like it would inspire me to attempt a portrait quilt by looking at all of the wonderful images.

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  33. I have made a portrait of myself in a quilt, still need to finish it. There are things I didn't like and would like to improve, this book sounds like the perfect book to teach me what I need to know, to finish it and work on some more.

    Debbie

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  34. I have always wanted to do a portrait quit. I would truly love to win this book it sounds amazing!

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  35. Wow. Looks like an absolutely awesome book. I haven't done protrait quilts, but it is something I am interested in trying.

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  36. I've never tried a portrait quilt, if I couldn't do them in art class I think I would have to do abstract portraits. I would love to win this book for some great inspiration.
    thelady at hotmail.com

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  37. This book looks so fascinating! I've never have quilted a person or a face---this has to be added to my quilting bucket list to dos! Thanks for sharing this reference!

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  38. This is a book which I have been coveting from afar! Some beautiful work, would love to have it as a reference for future work.

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  39. This looks like a very interesting book, I am working on several "Story Quilts" with people in them and would love to see additional techniques.

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  40. Amazing work. I had never considered portrait quilts. I am a quilt dork. I love looking at quilt books. I actually read them.

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  41. Creating a portrait quilt is on my "To Do" list. I've also been eyeing this book.

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  42. Your glowing review matches the glow of these portrait quilts!

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  43. It sounds like a wonderful book with so many beautiful inspirations. I've been meaning to do another self-portrait for about 50yrs. My art teacher said it was good, but I was much too hard on myself. I think I've learned to be kinder to myself & others.

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  44. I've never even considered such a thing possible. I would love to curl up with that book and my cup of tea on a Saturday morning. I love quilters coffee table books.

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  45. I have mixed feelings about portrait quilts. I have seen some that were just plain bizarre and others that are remarkable. I do find myself drawn to them when I visit quilt shows. I am fascinated with the way they are quilted and how the choice of fabric can bring depth to the project.

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  46. Amazing work! I have yet to try a portrait quilt of any sort, but with help, I'd love to do one of my beloved pup! I'm passing your review along to Cheryl Lynch, too, as I think this would interest her greatly! Thanks so much!!

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  47. This is one that is on my bucket list of quilt's to do.. a portrait, a double wedding ring...etc..

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  48. This is something on my bucket list.. of course I need to live to 100 to get them all done.

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  49. I've done a few portraits in counted cross-stitch, would love to try in fabric. These quits are beautiful.

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  50. I've done a few portraits in counted cross-stich, would love to try fabric. These quilts are beautiful.

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  51. A portrait quilt would be fun to do. What a neat book to get so much information into.

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  52. I would love to try a portrait quilt and I'll need this book :)

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  53. I would like to do a portrait quilt. Sounds like this book covers a wide range of information!

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  54. I would love to have this book, as an artist I have always enjoyed working with mixed medias and I am now exploring the process of art quilts. I find them very interesting and often full of the unexpected. The book looks like a great resource for ideas - like walking through a art gallery. P.S. I don't know how profile thing works so I hope if I do win the "Anonymous" will go through.

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  55. I haven't tried a portrait quilt but have admired some I've seen at quilt shows, A book like this would be sure to inspire me Thanks for the opportunity to win .

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  56. I would really love to win this book - Thought about portraits - but this would push me over the edge.
    Thanks for the chance.

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  57. I've always admired portrait quilts - the fabric has such depth to enhance those photos. I've thought about trying one - maybe this book would be the catalyst. Thanks for the chance.

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  58. this is an art form that has always intimidated me, yet want to do it.
    I am "skeered", really.

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  59. I've not made a portrait quilt but would love to try. I think I would start with a picture I have of my hubby when he was little, all decked out in his cowboy outfit he got for a Christmas present.

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  60. what a great challenge it would be to do portrait quilts...have downsized to smaller quilts lately and this is one of the many things I would love to attempt

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  61. What a gorgeous book! I've never tried portrait quilting. Not confident enough. Maybe this book will inspire me to try.
    Thanks Linda
    wlinda_ca@yahoo.com

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  62. Hi Cathy,
    Have been enjoying your blog for some time.
    You certainly have spoken highly of this book.
    I have a self portrait in mind so winning this book would be very helpful.
    I didn't now how to select a profile so I went with anonymous.
    Batya Mendel

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  63. Potrait quilts kind of scare me, they look really hard to do.

    smjohns63 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  64. I have always been too afraid to make anything with people in it, but this book looks very interesting.

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  65. I would love to have this book, then maybe I can try some portraits of my grandchildren..

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  66. I've got the perfect photo in mind for this and I was not even sure how to begin to make a portrait quilt. Maybe when I win this book I can get going on it.

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  67. I would love to try a portrait

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  68. Creo que es muy dificil obtener un Quilt basado en una fotografía. Creo que el suyo para ser el primero está muy bien, algún día yo me animaré. Un saludo

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  69. What a beautiful book! Would love to have a copy to hold and daydream about making a portrait quilt.

    rbuckley

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  70. These quilted portraits are wonderful, someday I'll try one.

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  71. I had the pleasure of taking 2 workshops from Maria Elkins in March. I learned so much & would love to have a copy of this book.

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  72. After taking 2 of Maria Elkins' workshops in March, I hope to create some of my own portrait quilts. I would love to win this book to serve as inspiration.

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  73. What an amazing book! Would love to win, please and thank you! ;)

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  74. A Portrait quilt is on my bucket list. Some I've seen look so real. This looks like a wonderful book.

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  75. Pick me, pick me. This is on my 'wish list' and I would love to own a copy. I fell in love with Deidre Scherer's work years ago. I am also a huge fan of Mary Pal. Her work is just simply amazing.

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  76. Looks like a great book!

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  77. Would love to be the lucky one and win this book. Carol M.

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  78. I love Maria's work and would love to drool over this book. Thanks for a GREAT giveaway!

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  79. I love Maria's work and can't wait to drool over each page... if my name is drawn. Thanks for a great giveaway!

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  80. Wow! Looks like a fantastic book. I am always game to learn and try something new. I can thinl of several pictures i would like to try this with. Thanks for the opportunity. I think your DD quilt is a really great "first try". i am very impressed.

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  81. Wow! I have not yet tried making a portrait quilt, but it does greatly interest me. I would love to win this book, and learn from the author who obviously knows how to do it! I think you did a wonderful job on your DD's quilt, especially for a "first time". That is impressive.

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  82. I've done one self-portrait wall hanging but I know I could do better next time. This book looks like something that would be a big help!

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  83. Oh my gosh this is such a coincidence, I was looking at that very boo on Amazon yesterday. I would just love to win this book. I love your portrait quilt, and am interested in this process.
    Thanks for allowing me to enter.
    Bunny

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  84. edc--
    I took Maria Elkins portrait quilt class...it was great...her technique is easy enough for anyone to master and the resukts can be beautiful...if she is teaching in your area, don't miss the chance to create your own masterpiece...

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  85. I also have lots of quilt books but it sounds as though this one stands above the rest; I would love to be inspired by it to pursue trying a portrait quilt (my grandson perhaps!).
    Nancy
    unsure how to select a profile
    nygilpi@gmail.com

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  86. Sounds like a fantastic book. Might be just the push I need to move from "I'd love to make a portrait quilt but I'm scared" to "ooooh, I'm going to give it a try". I love the work of Jenny Bowker also.

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  87. ooooohh like a picture... Beautiful But I see by furbabies rather than humans.. I do not do `peoples' too well myself as of this writing. Reading your post I can see curled up like you were in the air plane :>) reading this 4 ideas.

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  88. oooo this book sounds Fabulous-I am NOT good at people faces But I can see doing my Furbabies :>) I would Love to give human & animal a try..always do my thoughts thru quilting this would be..the best. Your darling girl truned out Better than a photo. I like this Better than those boxed/thingies that they sell to put thru the printers to just make your photos reverse onto fabric?? you know This Is WAYY better...

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