Sunday, September 24, 2017


When sewing without a pattern, a theme is one way to get started----

A curiosity about mark making originated when I took a nonrepresentational drawing class. Mark making is practiced usually in the context of drawing, painting or marking other objects. I think marks can also be seen in quilts as we consider lines, squares, triangles, circles. Explore these links and see what you think.

Rothko to Richter

In reference to the mark, "...a one to one correspondence between every stroke of paint and every movement of the artist's hand." When something is made by hand, it is nice to see evidence of the work by the hand. 

Marks can be made by scraps of fabric. Here are marks in leaves offered by my favorite historic quilter.  Vine quilt by Susan McCord

Multiple little abstractions, many marks and I find it hard to stop thinking about Erin's work.   Erin Wilson Quilts 

Amish quilts were some of the first to gain attention from the art world. Here are some of my favorite Amish quilts showing off their graphic style. Marks can be on a grand scale as well as small. Note the simple Chinese Coins Quilt near the end. There is even one "small study". 

Darwin D. Bearley Antique Ohio Amish Quilts

After all the piecing, the quilting stitches present tiny marks sculpting the surface, but that is a subject for another day----and another class.  

Monday, September 18, 2017


MENDED---That moth was no match for a few marks

Sewing little things together to get little things per Gwen Marston's notes. Plus there are big things to pack for the gathering at Madeline Island School of the Arts where I know students will be doing big things. In two weeks, class will be underway. A reunion with returning students and meeting new students adds to the excitement of all the quilt making that will follow. The last minute preparation will fill my two weeks. 

Today my quilt greeted me from the pages of the QuiltArt engagement calendar, marking time, reminding me of what a fine year it has been in my quilt world, and of the fine time to come in just two weeks!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

QUILT EXPO September 7-9, 2017

DOG WALKS GIRL 49" x 54"
 original design, liberated piecing and hand quilting
by Pam Beal
vintage kimono silk & yukata cotton; Kona & hand dyed cotton plus a little batik
and published in the QUILTART engagement calendar 2017 
Dog Walks Girl is checking out the scene at Quilt Expo in Madison, WI sponsored by Wisconsin Public Television with Nancy Zieman---September 7-9, 2017

UPDATE:  Dog Walks Girl was awarded 1st. Place in the Wall Quilts, Hand Quilted Category at Quilt Expo. Thank you QUILT EXPO! Dog Walks----away with a blue ribbon

ps---if you like my quilt maybe you would like to join me for a workshop! Two classes in Wisconsin are coming right up, Madeline Island School of the Arts in October; Woodland Ridge Retreat in June, 2018----Visit the workshop page for details and I'll see you in class.

And here is a photo from Quilt Expo---courtesy Terry S.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


detail of CRAYONS 45" x 44"

In a few short weeks class will be in session! Make Your Mark with Pam Beal, October 2-6.

I think of Mark Making quilts as a style of abstract quilt resulting from improvisation, liberated thinking, and construction adapted from Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking methods. Consider lines, squares, triangles and circles as the vocabulary of mark making. Little pieces and parts coming out of nowhere, seemingly going nowhere. The very curiosity of it interests the maker and the viewer.

The Madeline Island "magic" is legendary. It feels magical when you experience your creativity. Five days offers immersion in discovery. 

I hope to mark you present in class!

Follow the link from my Workshop page, or the post on the upper right side for registration information, or wander to the MISA page Madeline Island School of the Arts 

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Crayons 45" x 44"
Pam Beal in Hand Quilted Quilts
The show is over and the quilts have returned home, yet I am still thinking about what I saw at QuiltWEEK in Grand Rapids, MI....and many of us can use a moment of diversion about now.

Allow me to share quilts made by other semi-finalists---quilts from some of my favorite people. The ambitious Karen Duling had 3 quilts on exhibit! I love Karen's finely crafted quilts containing subtle messages and thoughtful content. 

I could say the same thing for Kristin Shields' quilts. She is another gifted quilter. I met both of these women at the Beaver Island Quilt Retreats with Gwen Marston, and that is all I'll say...don't want to share our secrets!

Tim Latimer is a popular quilter from Michigan. Tim's quilt was machine quilted using an antique treadle sewing machine. Imagine his hand/foot coordination as you gaze at his impressive whole cloth quilt! Absolutely one of a kind.

Finally, a couple more quilts by people I do not know--- I was really taken with these quilts!

Stephanie Zacharer Ruyle

notice the wonderful random stitching & texture

Mary Kay Price
I think the grid is trying to contain the little marks, but they want to move
Cynthia L. Vogt

Beth Markel, another Michigan quilter

NOTE: all of these semi=finalists have been award winners in previous AQS shows and for photos of the quilts in the Winner's Circle, visit

Visit my friends,

---and the shy don't often post photos like this, but as you can see we had a swell day---thank you Ellen, in your Holy Scrap t

Ellen and I were college roomies back in...oh never mind. 

Friday, August 25, 2017


Thanks again to all who joined me in class at QuiltWEEK in Grand Rapids, MI.  
Dear students, you inspire me with your enthusiasm and sense of adventure!

Here is a look at some of the pieces taking shape---Improvisation for Squares

My apologies for not featuring photos from the Studio Hand Quilting class. I was too taken by the moment. Here quilters were new to hand quilting and others were new to the practice of liberating and improvising the quilted line. It was a joy to be around such energy! We could have spent a week together. Remember to embrace your signature stitch!

But is a photo of one of my sample pieces for class, taken outside so the lighting highlights the stitching a little better. As you can see, very abstract & random, play with colored thread, and no marking needed. 

I close with appreciation to AQS for the return engagement and to the following sponsors for their generosity---HOBB'S BONDED FIBERS-JANOME-HAVEL'S SEWING-WONDERFIL SPECIALITY THREAD-GALL SEWING AND VAC CENTERS

Friday, July 21, 2017


maker unknown, c. 1920-1940
Gwen Marston taught me to see the possibilities in old quilts, pointing out the rich tradition on which to improvise. The quilts of interest to Gwen were quilts with visual impact and surprise---something random, something clever, something irregular and a means to an end. Random and irregular design was the result of available material and scraps, and clever construction designed to finish the job. 

Look carefully at the seam lines. Look at the fabric and shapes and wonder about how it came to be in a quilt. The quilt will tell you a lot about the quilt maker's decisions. Choices about color and design, placement of pieces really, showed individual preferences of the maker and overall utility. No prescribed formula or pattern guided this process.

Here is what Gwen had to say about this quilt: "The Crazy Cotton Quilt an example of the free-spirited quilts that I found intriguing. Because there is more to see and more to figure out, quilts like this hold my attention longer than their predictable, well-organized, color-coordinated, pattern-based, uptown sisters." Gwen Marston in Liberated Quiltmaking II, AQS 2010, p. 6. 

Crazy Cotton Quilt Top, published in Liberated Quiltmaking II and formerly Gwen's, now lives with me. This old quilt is now my new teaching companion from one of my favorite companions. 

Take a look at White Chocolate Mocha Joe studying this old quilt. He is the in house quilt expert, supervisor of time management-studio boss, and top dog.

Monday, July 3, 2017


FANFARE  small study
10" x 11"

This small study, FANFARE, was inspired by Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man.     My days in the French Horn section were superb in the brass choir ensemble where brass fanfares were standard fare! Fanfare for the Common Man is spectacular to play and I became moved to try to interpret it in cloth. Hence this abstract miniature quilt with the bold colored area representing the rhythm and overall sound of the music, as I experience it. 

The radio program, On the Media, had a wonderful biography of Aaron Copland, "The Sound of America". I learned that Copland's working title, or a title he considered for the fanfare, was Fanfare for Democracy. To celebrate Independence Day, I'll celebrate democratic values: self governance, equality, liberty and justice for all, and a great American composer who wrote a fanfare---Fanfare for the Common Man. listen here    

*and about those horns, "If there exists a more noble sound than eight horns singing a melody fortissimo in unison, I have never heard it." __Aaron Copland 

Thursday, June 29, 2017


Lorna said a quilter's stitch is a signature, as individual as the person. That is what my grandmother said. Quilting by hand sculpts the surface of the quilt. The hand stitching becomes a design element as well as the function holding the layers together.

I like the quilting to be expressive so I improvise. I do not mark the lines to be quilted. 
Improvise and "you have a unique identity."---Wynton Marsalis 
Wynton and Lorna, voices you can trust!

Here is a brief look at the supplies I favor:

Thread for hand quilting is labeled Quilting thread. I use 100% cotton, favoring Gutterman with a pretty and functional glaze. If the weight is listed, look for 40/3. I like color and do not limit my choice to a neutral color thread. It is good to try multiple thimbles until you find what you like. The one I use, shown in the photo, has a raised brass top with a lip to control the needle. It has a serious, heavy duty look, as if you should don a hard hat. I started hand quilting by using a quilting hoop. This looks like an embroidery hoop, but it is more substantial to secure the layers of the quilt. I now mostly quilt in a frame, a simple home made device, and more about that later.

As with finding a thimble, I tried many needles first buying a package of assorted "betweens". I now use a John James size 11 Quilting needle/between. I rarely work without the Needle Grip It, discovering that this adhesive dot gives me a good grip on the needle minimizing strain. (Kudos to the naming dept.)

here is another look at my thimble

If you can shop at a local quilt shop, please do. If you internet shop, here are some links. The Colonial Needle Co. markets the Needle Grip-It and a similar thimble called a Raised Edge Thimble/Side Stitcher.

I am offering classes in hand quilting, and one is coming up soon! 

AQS QuiltWEEK August 16-19, 2017 Grand Rapids, MI

2018 Madeline Island School of the Arts--A five day workshop! Studio Hand Quilting at MISA