Cloud Ribbons, Another Beaded Art Quilt, Completed

Cloud Ribbons - beaded contemporary art quiltNancy Smeltzer, MFA

Contemporary art quilts can take on so many forms, but mine have become known for “all of those little tiny beads”. Here’s a photo of “Cloud Ribbons” which was just completed in time for submission to be considered in an international exhibition. (I’ll keep you posted as to the outcome). Since this was the first quilt that I cut out after my Mother’s death in April, I was very pleased at how cheerful it is and how relatively quickly I finished it. It’s always so much fun to show it off to friends one of my pieces as they’re being finished, as the first thing that they do is reach out to touch it. That’s one of the appeals for me, too, as the feel of things has always been important to me. I’m always picking up things and running my fingers over them and experiencing the differences in textures both tactile and visual.

Cloud Ribbons - DET(1)This view shows some of the play of repeats of shapes and colors that I love to execute.White rimmed buttons with black centers are sewn down with red embroidery floss. Black buttons with white daisies in the center are simulated in a white mother of pearl button with a black star incised into it in the lower middle of this shot. The cloud motifs (actually a chrysanthemum flower cut form fabric) is outlined in black and filled in with cream seed beads. Sewing those intensely beaded areas take 1 hour to complete 1 sq in or 2.5 sq cm.

Cloud Ribbons - DET(2)This is one of my favorite shots that I took of this piece,as many of the intricate ribbons from which the name comes are shown. To emphasize the vertical linear nature of the ribbons, I also stacked many rows of similarly contrasting colored buttons. There are vertical rows of pink, yellow, and purple, sewn down with colors of embroidery floss to complement the hundreds of buttons and beads. This piece certainly is worthy to fit in with the others that I’ve made if just for the sheer weight that all of the embellishments add. It’s surprising how quickly a little glass and metal can increase the weight of something.

It feels good to have finished another large piece of art quilting and to be writing again. The chronic Lyme disease and Babeisiosis (tick malaria) has taken quite a toll on my energy (my immune system function is down to 4%). Some days, all I feel like doing is to sew on beads. Throughout my life, sewing has always been comforting, and I’m glad that I had that to draw on when my life was pretty bleak these past few months. While I know that I have many more dark days ahead before the diseases are under control, I do have many ideas for my artwork that I want to execute to encourage me to keep going.

For more fabulous art quilts, see…

Does your art get you through your dark days? What aspect of it helps you?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.


  1. Wowzer! You work is mesmerizing. If this is what you do when your tank is running on fumes I can’t wait to see what you do when you have a full tank.

  2. Dear Gwyned, THANK YOU so much! Comments are what keep a blogger going and my art work feeds my soul. I wrote a blog too long ago for me to find again of how women through the centuries have sewn through their grief and pain (mourning art) and I wan’t kidding when I said that sewing was what gave me a reason to keep on going some days. If you would do me a favor and share your thoughts with your friends on my Facebook page… I’m shooting for 500 likes…:) Thanks again fro your support!

  3. this is outstanding! Reminds me of Klimt the artist my group is currently studying. I have chronic pain from an unstable spine/sacrum. When it’s really awful, sewing takes me out of it. Sometimes it’s hand piecing sometimes machine. My poodle got rocky mt spotted fever from a tick so this explains his lack of energy even now. It comes down to coping in life.
    LeeAnna Paylor

  4. Dear LeeAnna, Klimt? Wow! What a high complement. When I was in Vienna, I dragged my ex around to every place where Klimt’s work was shown. His love is details has always been an inspiration to me.
    Fortunately, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever is not one of the five tick diseases yet in Maryland, here on the East Coast of the US, but this tick malaria has been quite a ride (on top of the Lyme disease). I know that there are tick literate vets and meds for animals. Apparently, cattle have carried them for over 5,000 years. (I’ve learned way too much about the little buggers since I got sick the middle of June!) Anyway, send your friends on over and I’d love to see some of your group’s work. If you have some well-lit photos, send them to me at
    I could see a series on my blog entitled “Details intensive”..:)

  5. Your work speaks to my soul! I have just started working with embroidery again. I have painted, worked with polymer clay, needle felted and used beads in jewelry. I have been musing about doing a collage piece using all of those on a canvas. Your work is amazing and stimulating and makes me want to push harder with my creativity. I am sorry to hear that your health isn’t the greatest. I love that you don’t plan your work and just let it happen. That is how I work best. I try not to ever create the same thing twice although I have had requests to do some similar pieces. It just isn’t the same the second time around. I will check out your facebook. I am so glad that I came across your blog!

  6. Dear Marian, thanks for the lovely compliments. I’m glad that my work noodged you to go in a new direction. May I suggest that you do most of the actual sewing on softer fabric than canvas, and then stitch down the edges onto the framed canvas, as making lots of hand stitches is REALLY hard on my fingers and wrists. The last bit of fabric that goes over the edge of the sides of the canvas, I cut the batting out from under the quilt sandwich. That way, there’s less bulk to sew through and the frame fits better. I have to bend sewing needled to curve them slightly to make it easier to make those curved stitches as regular commercial needles that I’ve found that are already curved are too thick as they’re meant for sewing through upholstery and sails. Good luck with your new directions!

  7. Heather P says:

    Gorgeous work! I’ve enjoyed looking at your blog and website.

    I’m glad that your art has helped you get through some dark times. I feel the same way — when I’m overwhelmed by life, I go into the studio and lose myself in a project.

  8. Thanks for the advice. I have done a little stitching on canvas and it is not easy. I was thinking that some kind of glue would work to attach beaded fabric to the canvas.

  9. I don’t like to use glue on fabric unless I absolutely have to do so, because after about 10 years, it starts to leach out from under the buttons and turn the fabric brown. If I HAVE to use glue, I’ll glue the object onto felt that is cut a little larger than the object, glue the object on to the felt, and let it dry. Them the felt gets sewn on to the felt and then covered with beads. Primed canvas is really hard for my fingers to sew through, so I sew as much as I can on regular fabric.

  10. Aren’t we lucky that we have such a great way to “lose” ourselves…:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two × two =