Friday, July 13, 2012

Call for Entry

City Gallery at Waterfront Park,
Charleston, South Carolina
Call for Entry
“Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore”
Cookie Washington - Curator

This call for entry is seeking art quilts and art dolls inspired by the folklore and visual history of the black mermaid archetype. Some of the first tales of mermaids and merwomen were brought to America by Africans enslaved along the coast of South Carolina. Black mermaids traveled with enslaved Africans from Yoruba to distant lands, comforting them in the holds of the slave ships that took them far away from their homeland in Africa. Known by other names, her traditions continue in the countries to which her people were dispersed. Because of the rich oral traditions of these peoples, few if any of these stories were written down until they were recorded by collectors of folk tales toward the end of the 19th century.

You are invited to share your visual interpretation of these myths by creating a Black Mermaid/Merwoman in an art doll or art quilt. Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore with be on view at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Historic Charleston, SC from August 28 through October 28, 2012.

I can think of no better venue for an exhibition of Black Mermaid art quilts and art dolls than the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in the historic city of Charleston, SC.
For more information, contact, and entry form:
Cookie Washington, Curator
Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore
720 Shelley Rd.
, Suite "B"
Charleston, SC 29407
Phone: 843.259.8108

Many people carry the mermaid energy inside them, that otherworldly beauty, a longing and desire that makes them reach for heaven though they may feel they live in the darkness of the sea.”

The city of Charleston is exhibiting this show for two months and it will be one of the featured visual arts exhibits for the MOJA  African American Arts Festival now in it's 30th year.
An 8" X 8" full color, 120-page catalogue/book will accompany the exhibit. Twenty-five pieces will be featured with a full-page photo and paired with an original poem written for his special project. Remaining entries will be featured with just a photo. One free copy of the book will be given to each participating artist. Books will also be available for purchase at the reception.

Please create a piece for this show, and share the call to entry for this show with other members of your circles whose work you admire? Remember the Call for Entry will be July, 23rd.

Completed work will need to be in by August 15th for inclusion in the book of quilts and poetry, that will be published as part of the show.  The exhibit will be at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in the historic city of Charleston, SC from Aug. 28th thru Oct 28th, 2012. 
The beautiful City Gallery at Waterfront Park is in the oldest historic district of the city of Charleston. It is a huge 2 story glass art gallery which is why I can accept 100? or more pieces for the show depending on the size of the art quilts and up to 10 art dolls.
If you choose to become a participating artist  in Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore and choose to travel to Charleston, SC for the exhibition, the weekend of September 7th and 8th would be the weekend to come to this show if you are an out of towner.
September 7th, Friday is Yemaya's Feast Day. I will be hosting an invite only party to celebrate/honor her and we may "take it to the water..". Please let me know if you would like to attend this event.
The talented, mystical Arianne King Comer, has agreed to teach a Batik class for visiting artists and guild members. Arianne grows Indigo seeds in God's earth, harvests it and turns it into indigo dye, then she creates batik art. She is willing to teach a class Friday afternoon and a full day class Saturday morning and afternoon. If interested in the class please send notice ASAP.
Saturday, Sept 8th  from 6 to 8 pm is the Artists Reception at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park.
There will be live music,  refreshments and over 400 guests will be invited.
The Cultural Affairs Dept in the city of Charleston, SC, said if we had an early enough head count they may be able to secure discounts on hotel rooms. If any of your guilds or families are coming please let me know.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
“Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore”
• Open to African American artists in the United States,
Mexico and Canada, age 16 and up.
• Entries must be an original quilt, quilt hanging, or
afro-centric doll created in the last three years. Work
must not have been previously exhibited nationally in the last 5 years.
• Quilts or dolls made from a kit, commercial pattern,
or in a workshop with the aid of an instructor are
• Quilts must be multi-layered and finished with
stitching. Integration of non-fabric embellishments,
such as beads and stones, is acceptable and
Entries must be in keeping with the theme
“Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore.” Please review text

at the end of application for suggestions.
• Applicant must submit  Jpegs of art, bio, fee and application for jury process by
July 23, 2012.
Your $25 entry fee allows an artist to submit up to two
Entry fee is paid by USPS Money order, or check,
no credit cards can be accepted at this time.
We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Make checks or Money Orders payable to:

Torreah Washington,
720 Shelley Rd.
Suite “B”
Charleston, SC 29407

Monday, July 9, 2012

Making Quilts into Stories

I’m excited to announce the publication of the first volume of my book If Quilts Could Talk. It has been a long time in the making and is finally a reality. I give much credit to Kyra Hicks for incentive and information in her book, How To Self-Publish Your Own Quilt Catalog and her blog
This delightful paperback contains five (5) short stories about my childhood in the rural southern United States and a quilt that accompanies and accents the story. You will find all the stories to be very personal and that is the way I planned it. It is my way of celebrating our strong family and community as well as honoring the ancestors who exist for our success.
In this book only the first quilt-A Day Late and A Dollar Short came before the story. The story is about the quilt, my father, and my regret. The fabrics I used came from the hospital supply company where he worked. The second story is a tribute to all the good times my sister and I had together. It is secretly a story about how poor kids made fun with no toys. The quilt is patterned after one I saw elders making called a postage stamp quilt. They would use the postage stamp as a pattern. It would take them a very long time to create something absolutely gorgeous. I spent a considerable amount of time making the pattern run across the quilt.
The third story is about the railroad tracks. It may be difficult for people in other parts of the United States and maybe the world to know the real meaning that the railroad held for African Americans in the south.  President Jimmy Carter tells a story of the African American people in his hometown being allowed to stand and listen to the radio outside a window in their home to hear the Joe Lewis fight. He says that when the fight ended the people thanked his father and walked slowly away. When they crossed the railroad, you could hear shouting and celebrating clear to the next county.
They did not make a sound until they crossed the dividing line. My parents used to go to the railroad and pick up the coal that fell off the train cars. Countless fathers left home to find work on the railroad. It was a distinctive line of work and source of survival on many levels. The quilt is an Irish chain design using the same size squares as the postage stamp quilt. I added two pictorial squares about the story.
The fourth story is about my aunt; Ms. Marie Ponder. It is because of her that I have this belief that aunts and uncles are very important to the growth and development of young children. Every family member had a clear purpose in the extended family model.  I wanted to honor that role in that story. The quilt is an applique that I made to honor her. She taught me to sew which eventually led to quilting. I pictured her in the type of hat that African American women wore to funerals. I also covered the quilt with charms celebrating her many skills.
The last quilt in this series is my favorite. I remember so well the excitement and pride that went with having a new dress for Easter. And I also remember how great it was to have a built -in best friend in my sister. This story covers several points in a very subtle way (and some not so subtly).  I spent a lot of time designing the dresses on the little girls on this quilt because of my vivid memory of our dresses.
"… As we sat there fidgeting, I felt the tingle of the burn on my ear. My mind flashed back to the day before when I was on the floor at Ms. Henrietta’s house. Ms. Henrietta said, “Sit back in the chair. I won’t burn you again.” The smell of rose oil pomade drifted past my nose. She always used rose oil pomade when she straightened our hair. I wished I could believe that she wouldn’t burn me again. But I knew I was going to flinch every time I felt the heat of that straightening comb close to my neck and she was going to catch my ear again with that hot comb. It never failed…"  Excerpt from “If Quilts Could Talk.”  This book is available in paperback and e-book. I guarantee one of these stories will take you back and make you smile.
I want to encourage all quilters to take the plunge and publish yourself! It's your ride take the wheel.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Guide My Path

Several years ago, a photographer named Ken Gehle had a brilliant idea to photograph artists in their prospective studios. He told me that his idea was that the studio was as much a statement about the artist as the work that was produced there. Ken wanted to capture that the beauty of the artist in the studio.

I quickly signed up to be a part of his project. As all the quilters and seamstresses know, I started the awesome job of cleaning my studio for the picture. Ken came over a week before the shoot just to look around and decide the best way to shoot it. He thought the dress I was wearing was so appropriate for the picture that he asked me to wear it again the next week for the shoot. I thought to myself, I have other nice dresses. I wore it though. I didn't think that was too much ask.

Ken had been suffering from cancer and was happy to announce that it was in remission. He explained to me that the cancer had something to do with his eyes, which was the worst thing that could happen to a photographer.  He was such a gentle and focused man. Not to mention a great photographer. You can see  his work at

Ken's cancer came back and he passed in 2010. I am one of the artists featured in his book, I Now Have A Ribbon. You never know who you will meet along your journey in this life or why. I was sure my chance encounter with Ken happened for a reason.

Earlier this year(2012), Ken's wife, Tamara called to ask if I would make a quilt from Ken's shirts for their daughter. I was overjoyed to be able to be a part of such a tribute. She also asked if I could use one of his photographs, which made it even better. Just think about it, a quilt made from his very own shirts from one of his very own photographs. I chose the lighthouse picture after seeing the colors of shirts I had to work with. Tamara said that it was her favorite picture. It just kept getting better.

Let me count it up again: his shirts, his photography, and now his wife's favorite photo. I hit the jackpot. It's just the kind of tribute I'd love to have made for my children when I'm gone. I felt so honored to be entrusted with this work.

I used a few of his red colored shirts to make the lighthouse and then a beige shirt to make the small house. Of course the sky fabric is a commercial fabric that I picked up. It wasn't exactly what I wanted but all I could find at the time. Later after I had almost finished I found a sky fabric that looked more like the sky in the picture but it was too late. Ken had a lot of green and blue shirts. So after I used all the blue shirts making the water, I saved the leftovers for the background. My first thought was that I was going to mix a little of the red shirts in with the green ones for the background. When I got to the background the green and blue felt better, so I left the red ones out.

The quilt is called "Guide My Path. A Tribute to Ken Gehle." It is a bed sized quilt. I'd like to thank the Gehle family for letting me be a part of this tribute.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My New Quilt Catalog

This time I've got a good ticket and a good seat.

Over my years I have often bought tickets to various adventures. Some of those rides were because my best friend went first while others were to see what I see. These were not the kind of rides my Dad took me on at the fairground when I was a little girl. Oh no! These were much more adventurous. Like the time in high school we all decided to drink wine for the first time. All my high school buddies went on that ride with me. I think we were all sick together. I bet my Dad was looking out the window laughing as I was bent over in the back yard throwing up. He knew a good punishment when he saw one.

Oh yeah and the time we went to Stone Mountain. That was our Senior Trip. Over the top ride. The officials at Stone Mountain called our school and banned us from ever coming again. Then there were major life changing rides, like marriage, childbirth, and jobs.

I've rode on many group-building rides and joined other groups when the train stopped between stations. I've met many people on those rides. Some I had to leave on various trains and some others are still in my life. And I am very thankful to those that are still here.

When Kyra Hicks pulled up with this train, I could not resist. She had tickets for seats on her blog--  and a workbook to accompany it. I got a seat by the window. I was alone in the train car but excited to be there. Soon other people started pouring in. I was writing and collecting pictures of my quilts. This was by far one of the best rides of my life.

The next thing I knew- the train horn was blowing and I had a completed book. Ms. Hicks' blog and book was invaluable. I wrote my quilt catalog- "Gifted: Art Quilts Featuring African American History Makers." It showcases quilts that I have exhibited at the Atrium on Sweet Auburn (Atlanta, GA), The National Black Arts Festival (Atlanta, GA), and the Birmingham Public Library (Birmingham, Alabama). I think I will get another ticket and maybe write another book. Whoo Hoo!

You can get the book on Check it out.

It is also available at

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Self-Publish Your Own Quilt Catalog

I received my copy of Kyra Hick's wonderful book about 2 1/2 weeks ago. I read it in one sitting. Loved it. Such a fast and easy read. I started recommending it right away.  My mind was going so fast about the possibilities it opened up for so many artists. I just happen to be a quilt artist so it immediately spoke to me, but if I were some other kind of artist I would see the application right away. I could see a photographer publishing a catalog of his/her work or a poet publishing his/her work.
Ms. Hicks is also writing a regular blog about publishing your own quilt catalog.   The beautiful thing about the blog is that it gives one a chance to ask the author questions and make comments.  The book is a wonderful addition to the blog. If you are anything like me, you want to have a chance to read some sections it over and over.

I got to work right away, cataloging a few of my quilts. That is when I realized that I could be at this a long time. Maybe I'll do several books, who knows. The good news is that I will be able to share my book with you soon.

Technology has changed the way of the world. The book publishing industry was not exempt. We all have the ability to publish our own books at our fingertips. No more waiting on someone else to validate you or your work. Validate yourself and here's how-How To Self-Publish Your Own Quilt Catalog.
For now, I can't say enough about the wonders of this new book How To Self-Publish Your Own Quilt Catalog. Ms. Hicks is disclosing ideas that you will not get anywhere else.

Get Your Copy Today at:

Friday, March 9, 2012

March Madness

March is the time to get ready for the Big Dance. These dancing quilts set the stage for that Big Dance. Now is the time to let some new quilts dance and beautify your home this March. In the sports world, the Big Dance is the NCAA Basketball Tournament. If you've never experienced the Big Dance, also called March Madness, OBA Quilts will help you get prepared with it's 15% Off Sale Site wide. I'm gearing up for this big March Madness.

Lately I have been deep into my work. I am in finishing mode. I love it when I get in this mode, because it feels like I am really pumping out a lot of quilts. In actuality I am finishing several projects that I have been working on for some time. One quilt that I am putting the finishing touches on was a three year project. I always keep one project that I piece by hand. I work on it when I am not near the computer, especially on long car rides when I am not driving. (Although I have been known to make a few stitches at the red light).

I like working on about 5 or 6 projects in my studio at one time. I am not really working on all of them at the same time but I take turns. I put together 4 ladies with big hats lately. I'm letting them hang out for a little while so I can decide how I want to border them. Sometimes I spend months thinking about the next move. Thinking about how to achieve a certain effect on fabric. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. You don't get to see the ones that don't work. I have a couple of wedding gifts in the works. I switch between them and that keeps me from getting bored with one.

I really like having short term projects and long term projects at the same time. Many people have told me that they have to work on one thing at a time but that bores me to death. I like going back and forth, switching around. When I get some quilts to a certain point I spend a lot of time finishing. That is when I get in finishing mode, like I am now.

I have my own March Madness going in my studio as I finish up some more quilts. I am trying for 4 more this week.
Check the website for new stuff and don't hesitate for one moment to tell me what you think.

Friday, March 2, 2012

200 Quilts!

I started today with the happy dance. Oh yes I am celebrating. Last year I came up with the brilliant idea of posting 365 quilts in 365 days on my facebook page: I say brilliant because a lot of those days it was the dumbest thing I ever came up with. It was hard to keep up with it everyday. I like to fool myself that I can be perfect and find so many things that remind me that I am not. I missed pretty much the whole months of December and January. By February I finally got back on it.

Today, March 2, 2012 I made it to 200. How great is that? 200 quilts posted in my facebook album. If you have a lot of time go there and look at them. If you have a little time check out a few of them. This is a great way to see my work at a glance. I look at it now and think that I could have organized it better but maybe not. If I had tried to organize it, I might have made it boring. The way it is now, you get some new quilts mixed in with some of my older work.

I also wanted to do something really great to celebrate today. I came up with a day of 20% all bed quilts on my website: That was the closest thing I could think of that could represent 200 quilts. Today is the day to go for that big bed quilt you have been eyeing.

I also want to invite you all to "Like" my facebook page:

I need you to help cheer me on through the next 100 entries.

The 2012 Art Quilt Calendar is on sale at a great price. If you haven't gotten on yet, now is the time. A wonderful way to collect my art.

Well I guess I need to get back to work if I am going to come up with 100 more quilts. Wow!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Valentine Keepsake

I have created these wonderful keepsake boxes. I am always thinking that if it is something I would like then there is someone else who would like it as well. This box can have your own lovely picture on the top.

I have enjoyed making these boxes so much. Lately, one day has been turning into the next day so fast that it is hard for me to focus. So when I sit down and do some decoupaging, it is like taking a breather. And believe me between my grandson, quilting and cooking, I can really use a breather.

I can't wait to see what I create for Mother's Day. Start getting your pictures ready.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 10 for 10

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day the 2012 Metamorphosis Calendar is on sale. On January 15, 2012 you can order 10 calendars for $10.00 (a $150.00 value). Yes ONLY $10.00
They make great gifts for family, friends, and customers.

My father had great admiration for Martin Luther King at a time when I was highly influenced by watching him. I had no idea how profound that would be in my life. I also had no idea that Martin Luther King Jr.'s humble but provocative influence would have such far reaching effects on so many lives. We were poor in a rural area of Georgia. I would see my father first worry when a march would happen and then I'd see a proud-ness when it was over that I had never seen in his eyes before. There was something quiet about the way he hung on every word on the news, watching intensely when the water hoses were turned on the marchers. I always got the impression that he wanted to be there, taking a stand, but had too much at stake to take a risk like that. So he was one of the many that kept vigil and prayed for their safety.

My father went to Morehouse and stood in the long line that wrapped itself around several blocks. My Uncle Doc met him there. They processed past a great man and knew it. It was never lost on us (as a people) that a change was happening before our eyes.

We don't take this day for granted. Even though many of us have to work, we still hold the vigil and pray for even more changes.

First 30 Customers- One Day Only- Mark your calendars and set your clocks

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Trust me. I really had my sights on the moon but landed somewhere among the stars. I'm talking about posting the entire month of December. 25 out of 31 wasn't too shabby. I had the best intentions. And I know they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I really tried. Hopefully, I haven't helped pave that road.

Around the 25th, I started feeling the energy called the FLU chasing me. It was always a couple of steps behind me but close. I developed a little cough and was moving kind of slow. I could feel the FLU breathing heavily on the back of my neck as I kept trying to stay a few steps ahead of it. I made it without being knocked out and now I am back.

Today I am posting a quilt called "Imani." I called her Imani because she reminded me of the essence of Kwanzaa. The last day of Kwanzaa is January 1 and represented by the principle called Imani. Happy Kwanzaa as well. "Imani" is hand quilted and 20.5"x39"