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Fabric quilt makers and polymer clay artists may not share the same media, but they have a lot of things in common. We share the love of color, pattern, and precision, and the work of one's hands. We know the joy of making something beautiful out of small things that are better when they are placed together then they were by themselves… this is true of quilts and quilt makers, true of beads and of those who string them together!

Judith Skinner and I began talking about writing a book together two summers ago at our annual polymer clay retreat in the mountains of Colorado. As an artist and author, I spend many hours working by myself. The days that I get to be with my dear friends and peers are very special and cherished on many levels. As women of countless generations have done before us, we often work in isolation and then come together to share and celebrate. Just like at quilting bees or barn-raisings of old, individual and group projects are made easier and more fun when shared. The stimulation of clever minds and mutual interests gets many new projects sparked and rolling even as labor progresses on the work at hand.

Adapting Quilt Patterns To Polymer Clay began as instructional handouts for precision caning classes offered by Judith. Her fascination with the potentials of building and reducing patterns in polymer clay led her to create fabulous millefiore canes that caught attention whenever they were seen. We both have backgrounds that include needle and textile arts, and share a love of precision and placement that extends beyond thread and plastic and into words and pages. Books are a favorite form of entertainment-and also a wonderful medium of expression. I have written two previous books and released them through Krause Publications, and created many web pages. Placing words and pictures on a page, placing polymer clay elements to form millefiore canes, and placing fabric shapes to form quilt tops has a LOT of shared points. The more we worked to piece this book together, the more we found this to be true.

We chose to work together on this project and to self-publish. Both of us learned a great deal over the course of the year it took to pull all the parts together. We learned about Print On Demand Publishers, and chose Lulu as our portal to the world of print media. At Lulu, authors, artists, musicians, and film-makers can independently release their work to the public. Uploaded files are converted and printed when purchased. There are a variety of formats and sizes available; including hardback, paperback, magazine and electronic downloads. Lulu is dedicated to making publishing available to anyone who has an idea that they are willing to work to share---and that's the catch; you must do all the work. Unlike large corporate publishers who must have a likely audience of 10-20 thousand readers before they can afford to release a book, Lulu offers entrepreneurs a way to make high quality print work available for niche marketing.

Without the security of a Publishing House and a staff of art directors, photographers, layout designers and editors, the entrepreneur is left free to do it all. While daunting in the scope of how much there is to do, it is also exhilarating and empowering to have all the choices. We decided what fonts to use, what colors, what to talk about and how to show it to best advantage. This required us to work on several different fronts at the same time, and to learn a great deal as we went along. Cooperation and mutual support were key to working smoothly under pressure and continuously, and each of us brought many different skills to the mix-and gained others as we went along!

For six months, Judith and I spent one week each month together. We decided on the outline at first, and then filled it in. During the course of the year, we learned a great deal about the history of plastics and about working with different brands of polymer clay-particularly struggling with issues of summertime heat and soft fresh clays. We learned how to work around it, and how to be flexible. Then there was a great deal to discover about lighting, digital cameras, editing and image manipulation with Adobe Photoshop, and print issues. Judith created all the graphics in her computer and I did the photographs in mine. Then we put them together, learning new programs and formatting each individual page. The construction elements of creating a book are every bit as lengthy and time consuming as stitching a quilt by hand! Both require minute attention to placement and the ability to make adjustments as needed.

The book cover illustrates how the work of many can come together to create something beautiful. There are colorful polymer clay quilt block canes at the bottom, made by Judith using the instructions in the book. In addition, the words of the title are filled in using polymer clay "fabric" made by Karen Sexton, Marla Frankenberg, Carol Simmons, Dayle Doroshow, Jana Roberts Benzon, Nancy Osbahr, Karen Wentink, Arlene Groch, Ruth Ann Husted, Lindly Haunani, and Diane Luftig. The border is translucent and white millefiore polymer clay cane work, this time by Leigh Ross. None of the "textiles" seen on the cover are cloth---it is all polymer clay.

From beginning concept... finish!
While Judith took care of the many details involved in the adaptation of each quilt pattern, I had fun creating a miniature fabric store to display the quilt block canes and other polymer clay quilt designs. If 11 ½ inch fashion dolls could sew, they'd shop at "Pieces", the miniature textiles shop made along with this book. The entire store is made like a stage set or shadow box, and is 2' deep and 4' in length. The scale equals one inch in small size for six inches in real life (also known as 1/6 scale or fashion doll scale)



Wall Hangings
This little store captures the delight I felt as a child shopping for fabrics with my mother. It presents the wealth of color and pattern that tempt the artist and provokes inspiration, as does any full sized art or craft store. And yet, it is all polymer clay! The floor is laid in a quilt pattern created with more than 2000 3/4 inch polymer clay tiles. A traditional Amish Quilt Block Pattern is taken in a new direction in this way. The quilts on the walls are all polymer clay-slices of canes from the book.

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