Saturday, March 18, 2017



lay down the boogie------------------------------

               March 18, 2017---a stitch in time

Saturday, March 11, 2017


CLOUDBURST 50" x 50" is a semi-finalist at the AQS QuiltWEEK Spring Paducah International exhibit, on display in the Small Wall Quilts-Hand Quilted category. My quilt will be among 403 other quilts from 44 US states and 14 other countries. The show is expected to draw 30,000 visitors according to the AQS Press Release. 

Also, my friend Lynn is teaching at Paducah and you could consider taking a class with her. Get to know Lynn at and learn more about her classes in Paducah at

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


When have you last said, "a real bobby-dazzler"?  Oh, not familiar with that? Apparently it is said of something visually astonishing, showy. I came across this exclamation in Making Welsh Quilts The Textile Tradition That Inspired The Amish? by Mary Jenkins and Clare Claridge. More about this another time....

What I came here to do is to offer an update on my 2017 teaching schedule. I am delighted to return to teach with the American Quilter's Society and The Madeline Island School of the Arts:

AQS QUILTWEEK Grand Rapids MI, August 16-19, 2017--- IMPROVISATION FOR SQUARES and STUDIO HAND QUILTING. Two 3 hour classes to fit your schedule. After all there is much to see and do at an AQS event. Registration will be open around June and here is the link so you can learn more

MADELINE ISLAND SCHOOL OF THE ARTS (MISA) October 2-6, 2017---A QUILTER'S MARK MAKING STUDY. registration information

A 5 day workshop at MISA is the icing on the cake! Time allows immersion. Time for discovery, study, experimentation and all things quilt. BONUS--Some say they leave having made friends for life. 

Being on an island in Lake Superior, you could be immersed in the lake. But maybe not in October, brrr! Better to stay inside the studio with the bottomless cookie jar. The friendly and attentive people at MISA really think of everything to keep us comfortable and focused on the learning experience. 

It would be swell to see you in class!

Madeline Island School of the Arts

Sunday, January 8, 2017

STUDIO NOTES---getting started

You are here, announces the sign. It is the start of a new year. Let's talk about getting started. Students are often interested in how to get started with improvisation. They have told me they were curious, or had a desire to work without a pattern but didn't know how to start. The conversation becomes rich with discussion of influences, inspiration and process. 

Get ready---get set---GO!

Much like Gwen Marston, I often turn to old quilts for ideas and inspiration. An antique Amish log cabin quilt with tiny logs and different colored centers had me smitten see the quilt  and has offered the starting idea for one of my quilts. When I become preoccupied with a quilt I have seen, I can work with those ideas without trying to reproduce the quilt.

Sometimes I draw a rough sketch, a really rough sketch----

and this idea turned into Breaking Trail 27" x 26" which went on to join the gallery in Free Range Triangle Quilts by Gwen Marston and Cathy Jones.

Get set---  Choosing a palette to start the quilt is part of the initial action. I select a few colors that interest me at the time knowing I will add or remove fabrics as I go along. 

GO---  Cut and sew, repeat. I cut a few random strips. I might have some interesting scraps left over from a previous project. Do one thing and see where that leads. A quilt is started without using a pattern for instruction, or expectation of what the quilt should look like. Improvisation is about self-expression after all. 

Here is what another artist has to say about getting started:  "I just put down a mark and start drawing. It is very intuitive and intuition is based on repetition." Matthew Metz, Potter, in American Craft on PBS.

It looks like one way to start is to begin!  pjb

Thursday, December 29, 2016



Return invitations are really nice!  In 2017 I will be returning to teach with the American Quilter's Society at Quiltweek in Grand Rapids, MI---August 16-19. Stay tuned for details


Madeline Island School of the Arts, October 2-6 for a 5 day workshop. 
A Quilter's Mark Making Study

Wishing you big times at the quiltings in 2017----"We had big times at the quiltings and big eatin' afterwards. They would make two quilts a night and they were nice quilts too with hems and everything. The Nine Patch pattern was a beauty, with little squares no bigger than your thumb nail."  From an interview with Lizzie Fanta Brown at age seventy-six, Mississippi, in Cloth and Comfort by Roderick Kiracofe,1994

CHECKING THE STITCHES ON THE BACK OF THE QUILT...and he doesn't look impressed

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Once upon a time, my quilting library was growing with books reflecting my roots. I was delighted to find Old Swedish Quilts by Asa Wettre, English language edition 1995, Interweave Press. I turned to this book recently to study a few quilts which promise to influence some aspects of my next quilt. Old quilts have much to offer our modern imaginations and efforts. 

If you look closely, you might be able to see that I "marked" a page with a quilt I thought had mark making appeal. Some of you already know that I am offering a 5 day workshop at the Madeline Island School of the Arts in 2017

On this winter solstice (a popular mid-winter festival for Scandinavians) let me introduce my Papa, my grandfather Knute Johnson. Born in Boras Sweden in 1893, Knute arrived at the port of Boston in 1912 and in Muskegon Michigan in 1913. He served in the US Army Air Force in WWI. Here is Papa photographed in his uniform.

Two buttons from his uniform were found in my grandmother's button box. Imagine, I held them in my hand and they stepped out from the photo and pulled me back in time. Knute and Rena were married in 1919. They survived the flu pandemic, and Nana was among the first women allowed to vote in US elections. 

Charming sayings and wisdom embroidered on a Bride's quilt caught my attention, Old Swedish Quilts p. 134,  "A hut a heart and a potato" "Do not complain at the wrong moment" "The one who does not go forwards goes backwards" "Rest is sweet after finished work" and "Poor Zaar!" 

I might not have been interested in Swedish quilts if not for Papa's roots. Family heritage and quilt tradition can intersect making rich pieces to stitch together. Each piece is important to the whole. Story telling, sharing and making quilts might stitch us together. 

a peek at a selection from my stash to get me started on my new old Swedish quilt----

Friday, December 9, 2016


FAR AFIELD  12" X 14"

Presenting........a collaboration by Wayne and I. Now available in our Etsy shop  to "wrap up" the holiday shopping season.

In this piece, Gwen Marston's liberated quiltmaking ideas migrate from the sewing room to the wood shop. Explore, make it up as you go along, be inspired by the materials at hand and enjoy the process. Improvisation is engaging, liberating.   Seasons Greetings!