Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Art of Going Pro

There are those people who say that they can’t draw a straight line on a page.  And then there are people, like me, who cant draw a straight line to the bank!

The good news is everyone can learn.  Give the non artist a ruler and give me a coach!


Leap!  2008

Leap! And the Net Shall Appear! 

Good inspiring advice from my good friend Kathy Casey , L.Ac., Dipl. OM
Licensed Acupuncturist & Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, the inspiration of the quilt you see above.

She said it often to me over the years.  And many attempts ensued.  But the truth is I wasn’t confident enough to really pull it off until recent years.

How I got started

Three years ago I started entering quilt shows.  Feeling encouraged, I joined SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates), an international guild of quilt artists in late 2008.  The world opened up for me!  I attended the annual conference in Ohio of May 2009 and learned all kinds of things about marketing: using a website, mailing lists,  emails, post cards, business cards, among so much more.  Frankly I was overwhelmed.  But I was inspired and energized!  I set to work on selling my quilts.  Here’s what I did:

  • Set up my own domain and a hosting company recommended by a fellow artist.
  • Personalized email.
  • I was accepted as a teaching artist at the non profit Gallery School of Pottstown that promotes art in the community especially for underprivileged kids.
  • Business cards.
  • Talked to anyone who would listen and gave out cards to everyone.
  • Signed up with the Visioning Project (SAQA-U education for members) to keep focused on my goal for the year.
  • Read and reread “I’d Rather Be In The Studio” by Allison Stanfield.  (I still read it all the time)  It’s an artist’s guide to self promotion and more. I'd Rather Be in the Studio! Book Cover

All of these things really made a difference!

  I learned a lot in 2009 and in 2010 I did more:Sayuri's Memories

Sayuri’s Memories 2009

  • Donated quilts for auctions for non profits : Sayuri’s Memories, 2009, donated to SAQA auction (above).   Walking Away, 2008, Village Productions (Pottstown PA)
  • I started to talk a little bit more on Facebook about events I was involved with. 
  • Set up a spot at a couple of art festivals and craft shows.
  • Attended events related to art, even speaking at one of them!

My sales actually doubled!  Then I had a freaky melt down . 

In January, this year, 2011 I did all of my financials so that my taxes would be ready.  I was so thrilled and then ……..  crippling  fear.Whirl

Whirls: a work in progress

How was I going to have another year as good as that?  My mind was spinning!  Mind you, my sales weren’t even enough to cover my art making, showing, entering, shipping expenses.

I had to step it up and I didn’t know how.  I can read, I know what people say to do, but I was a little too scared to toot my horn too loudly…  What if I failed?  That’s why I only get the one year subscription or pay the month to month:  It’s fear of commitment and making a total fool of myself in front of the entire world!!!!

That is all changed now.  I learned what I was afraid of and I committed even further.  I spent the past month working hard on all you see here on this blog site, my new Etsy shop and the email you received that brought you here!  Thank you for coming!!

Can you relate?  Are you ready to grow?


Grow  2010

Remember the line drawing blurb from the top? My friend and coach Cyn is one of those people who can draw straight lines on paper, to the bank, while texting a client about a house to sell and making copies at Kinko’s at 1 am!

Cyn is the woman behind CynWorks and I hired her to coach me for one month.  We had phone meetings once a week.  Each week we set goals to get to this point.  There will be more to do in the future but we’re working with a budget.  That’s one of the best things I like about working with Cyn.  She’s flexible.  I recommend her service to any artist who is really serious about not just making the art, but also selling it and just needs a bit of practical advice, how to’s, and guidance to get things moving. 

The other resource I recommend very highly is “I’d Rather Be In The Studio” by Allison Stanfield.  The book and the website is overflowing with tools, check lists, forms, ideas, ACTIONS, and very detailed explanations on who, what, when, where, why and how to do the things we have to do to get our art out into the big, wide, wonderful world.


A Sense of Adventure countdown

The deadline for A Sense of Adventure show with SAQA has been extended!  I gave up on my entry when the Feb 28 deadline was crushing me along with learning Word Press and working with my business coach Cyn Long of Cyn Works.  More on that another time…

So I have this piece that I began near the beginning of my Scar Tissue series.  I am having some problems.

  • for one thing, I made my border too narrow to allow for a sleeve and the required sleeve width is the usual 4”.
  • besides that, I think I want the border to be wavy on the outside like on the inside.
  • most important:  the quilt isn’t large enough for the minimum dimensions.  required: min: 36”  max:  42”   Actual size:  19 1/2” x 31”
  • the silver pieces you see are aluminum I cut and sewed to the quilt.  This makes it difficult to maneuver while sewing.  What was I thinking?!  (impatience!)

Here is what I started with

zuazuaDSC03455 web

Here are some ideas I worked on PSE


Idea 1 is to extend the wood grain style quilting into the new border addition and borrow the quilting style I used in Flow in the Scar Tissue series.

Idea 2 is to make window panes with additional lacy fabric inside.

So far, I sewed more border fabric to the narrow ends.


You can see that I sewed the front and back, right sides together on the edge of the quilt so that there are no raw edges.  The third pic is testing possible ways to make the additional border space look intentional rather than just trying to make it bigger.  In the third pic I am considering sewing the lacy fabric on top of the fabric instead of the cut out because of the sleeve issue.

Did I say that the problem solving is one of my favorite parts???  Surprised smile  Yup.  I still do.  I guess the time has come to do something else while the ideas marinate for a while.

So, I have this all pinned up on my design wall and as I stare at it, it occurred to me that this could be a good blog entry!  As you might be able to tell, dear reader, I am new at this…  Open-mouthed smile   (and it’s one of my assignments!)

What would you do?

I’m also trying to find the words for something like rising in the mist…   or spirit rising…   for a title…   What to you think about Exhale  or Sigh of Relief ?

SkyGirl Dolls



SkyGirls are characters I first created in illustrations in 2001.  I had been having crazy nightmares and dreams that seemed to continue every night for almost a month.  There was a theme of exploring a mansion, meeting people from the deep past and these stray children running around like ghosts.  Eventually I was in a position to save them from a ominous force that terrified me.  That’s when I drew these girls in various situations in the dreams.  After about 8 to 10 illustrations, the dreams stopped.

I started making the dolls in 2007.  A SkyGirl doll is meant to be like a totem. A reminder of the strength of feminity; a balance between girly-girl and tomboy.

When I put them up on Etsy I was commissioned to design “Hannah” for a very sweet woman from Maryland.








Each doll has long yarn hair, a distinctive jumper dress with a zigzag hem, heirloom stitched blouse, long hand painted striped legs, and cute boots. If you look under her dress, you’ll see she’s wearing bloomers! She even has wired limbs and button joints on her shoulders and thighs for posing.

Each doll has a custom made stand with her name and birthday painted on it.

23” tall with stand.

For a custom doll, client can specify colors, hobbies, expression, wired or unwired, or whatever other characteristics make the doll personal.

Miniature dolls will coming soon to my Etsy store.




All artwork, images and text © 2011 Barbara Zuazua. 
Please contact me for permission to use.

X’s & O’s in progress

This series is inspired by the crossbeams of the Ben Franklin Bridge and optical illusions I saw at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia Pa. 

The idea is simple.   The design is all about exploring the X and O shapes.  I was surprised by all of the options! 




“16” x 17.5”

This is a smaller piece I made for experimentation.  It’s the baby to Untitled (below).

I really enjoyed working with such simplicity.

Blue: low water immersion dyed.  Black and white: commercial cotton. 

Quilted in matching rayon thread.  Hand stitching: embroidery thread.




Still working on this piece.

Studying the way Optical illusions work, I attempted to create a spinning illusion. 

These individual circles were a technical feat!  It took several attempts to get the individual squares lined up correctly.  The piece is almost finished.  I am attaching layers of rope behind each circle make the piece three dimensional and hand sewing black cotton around the edges to hide the rope.  Next is figuring a practical way to hang it.

“Bulls Eye”



Still stitching!  This is my first entirely hand made quilt, including the piecing.  I work on this mostly at shows or watching a movie.






On the same thread of “Cellular” but using a very different technique.  These are all individual pieces using a freezer paper method.  I’m not happy with some of the construction results so a lot of hand sewing is to follow.

Blue: Low water immersion cotton.  Red: silk.  Black and white: Commercial cotton.

Quilted with matching rayon thread with exception to silver on the red.




Still in progress.

This quilt utilizes reverse applique, which means the design is sewn on several layers of fabric.  Then each shape is cut away revealing the layers underneath.

I began couching my favorite yarn, a multi color with metallic threads, around the edges of the revealed shapes.

All artwork, images and text © 2011 Barbara Zuazua. 
Please contact me for permission to use.


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