Category Archives: Fabric & Fiber

Jukebox Quilts: On the Cutting Edge of Quilting

Second in a two-part series on ways quilting has been changing in the 21st century

Monochromatic quilt designed by Kelly Abbott-Gallagher

This monochromatic quilt designed by Kelly Gallagher-Abbott hangs on a wall at Jukebox Quilts in Fort Collins.

Quilting hobbyists who frequent Jukebox Quilts have choices beyond our grandmothers’ dreams. They can purchase a small machine that cuts perfect shapes from fabric six layers at a time.  They have access to a computer-guided machine that can appliqué and embroider complex designs. Other machines, also computer-guided, can complete the quilting process by stitching elaborate patterns through fabric and batting.

Freed from the mechanics of quilting, they have more time to experiment with color and design. I admired the creativity, artistry, and technical know-how that I witnessed in my recent visits to Jukebox Quilts, where eye-catching quilts hang on the walls and over railings.

Kelly Gallagher-Abbott, owner of Jukebox Quilts, designed the monochromatic quilt, above right, using a computer program similar to Adobe Illustrator. The computer then guided the quilting machine as it stitched the design. The silk and cotton blend makes the quilt shimmer when you’re viewing it in person.

Taking advantage of all the mechanization could be quite an investment, but Jukebox Quilts makes it easy to try the technology by renting time on equipment right on site. Located in a historic building at 406 North College Avenue in Fort Collins, the shop is a mix of colorful fabrics, heavy wooden beams and stairs, and cutting edge technology. At the top of the stairs is a jukebox that Kelly acquired for fun. Beyond it is a scene unlike any I had ever encountered before my first visit to the store. Continue reading


Barbara Yates Beasley Turns Fabric into Fine Art

First in a two-part series on ways quilting has been changing in the 21st century

"Beauty of the Beasts," fiber art by Barbara Yates Beasley

“Beauty of the Beasts” by Barbara Yates Beasley hung in the Lincoln Center during Fiber Celebration 2014 in Fort Collins.

A year ago, “Beauty of the Beasts” hung in the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins during Fiber Celebration 2014. Standing in front of it, I marveled at the gorilla’s deep-set eyes and powerful shoulder and head. How had the artist created such a picture with fabric? I marveled and moved on.

Two months ago while exploring the NoBo Art District’s website (NoBo: North Boulder), I saw “Beauty of the Beasts” again – the digital version. The massive blue gorilla had been unforgettable. Now I could seize the opportunity to connect with the artist and find out how she makes a quilted picture – if she was willing to share her secret. Continue reading


Jamie Lauren Upholstery Brings Furniture to Life with Artful Flair

Furniture from Jamie Lauren Upholstery Upcycle

Contemporary and upcycled furniture from Jamie Lauren Upholstery  awaited customers at Boulder’s Firefly Handmade Market in summer of 2014.

Last spring at an art festival in Boulder, a middle-aged couple wandered among the brightly upholstered antiques, ottomans, and benches at Jamie Solveson’s booth. “Jamie Lauren Upholstery” read the sign on the tent.

The couple slipped quietly away to the next booth, but Jamie received a call from them weeks later. They had an 80-year-old chair that had been brought outside for a patio party and had subsequently been rained on, they told Jamie. Because it was wet, it had remained outside. There was more rain, and more time passed for the chair on the patio. Squirrels took advantage of the situation and pulled out the stuffing until the back and seat were thoroughly tattered from one side to the other. Continue reading


Dyeing to Paint: The Work of Silk Artist Phillippa Lack

Silk painting by Phillippa Lack

Leaves floating in a puddle inspired this silk painting by Phillippa Lack.

You come to a puddle where a few autumn leaves float. You walk around it deliberately but barely thinking about it. You continue your walk immersed in your thoughts, the puddle forgotten.

Unless, perhaps, you’re an artist.

Fiber artist Phillippa Lack recreated her impression of such a puddle by painting leaves on two layers of silk, giving the illusion that some of the leaves lie below the surface of the water. From her back yard to Hubble telescope images, Phillippa finds inspiration everywhere for her silk art, often executed in three dimensions.

Here are some of the secrets she shared with me for working with a medium where paint – even paint especially formulated to dye silk – flows where it will. Continue reading


Commissioned Art: Planning in Partnership, Letting Go with Trust

Commissioned art by Anne Bossert

Commissioned art by Anne Bossert fills what used to be a problem area of this room.

Sometimes I have a bee in my bonnet when there’s something about my home that’s not quite right but I can’t figure out what to do about it.

That was the case in July of 2014, when I worked with Anne Bossert to prepare the second post of “Handmade on the Front Range.” I had met Anne, a fiber artist and furniture maker, on the Fort Collins Studio Tour in June. A month later we went through what has become the usual interview, then follow-up questions, and finally fact checking. The post went up on the web on August 13 and readership went stratospheric for a day.

While I tried to stay focused on upcoming posts, the bee in my bonnet kept stinging me. What if I had Anne make a textile to fill the long, high bare wall that had been annoying me for the three years that I had lived here?

I wanted to kill this bee as soon as possible. Before August ended I popped the question. “Anne, would you have time in your schedule to make me a wall hanging?”

Planning a Piece that Pleases

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