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Susan Shie explains this first quilt of 2006, the Chinese Year of the Dog:

On New Year's Day this year, I decided I really wanted to start a piece about the Year of the Dog. As I put up the blank expanse of fabric to airbrush the starting images, I had no idea what would be the composition, so I put in some of our patio owl lights, as these are images I totally adore. We turn those lights on every night of the year, all 35 of them, and their images remind me of home.

Then I decided to put a very large bust of St Qulta the Comforter below the owls, to take up most of the piece. Then I drew in her right hand, and then I realized this hand was shaped as to hold something small. A bouquet of flowers? Too small to hold one of my large bowls OH, she can hold Eva. So I put Eva in behind the hand and added St Q's left hand.

I thought about how Gretchen is a Year of the Dog person, and decided to work on St Q's face, thinning it down a lot, so it could resemble Gretchen, who, after all, is Eva's mother and ought to be holding Eva. Then I put two black labs surrounding Gretchen, at her shoulders. I knew I should turn them into white labs, so the writing I do later would show up on them. So they don't look like Hattie or our other black labs, but they ARE them.

I added a Stink Pot for War to be composted back into peace in down below Eva, and two blue moons behind the dogs. I threw in a tomato pincushion, since St Q and I both love those. I put in the large words with airbrush, still using the black paint. Then, still airbrushing, I added all the colors. It was all done that same night, Jan 1.

After heatsetting the airbrush work, I began adding the smaller writing in black fabric paint with my airpen. This got done over the next two weeks, and a lot of the entries are dated.. The writing is less political than some of my recent works are, and it's more family oriented, since my daughter and granddaughter are the subjects here.

Also there's a lot about the Dog Year characteristics, which are also Libra traits and Gretchen's traits.

I sandwiched the painting in my own style of putting the layers together with the back folding around and tucking in under the painting, to become the border. Then I machine grid sewed it in my crazy grid style, which means I pinned it with hundreds of safety pins and sewed away, not measuring the straight lines I was sewing. When I was done, I luckily remembered that I had the 28 Peace Cozies left over from making 29, to select the perfect sized one to cover a problem on my last large quilt, Wilma (Peace Voodoo). It took a while to find the little fabric peace symbols, but I did. I sewed on onto the Stink Pot. There will be one on each of the next 27 quilts, after this one and Wilma, and those 29 pieces will be my Peace Cozy series. So this is #2 in the Peace Cozy series.



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More quilts by Susan Shie

Year of the Dog by Susan Shie

Detail of Year of the Dog (2006) by Susan Shie

Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

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Toward Barred Island by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade (detail)

Bottom left and right: Toward Barred Island (detail) by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade