Between my two weeks of teaching fabric collage classes at the Quilt Gallery in Kalispell, Montana, I had a two day “weekend” to catch up on a little sleep and do some sightseeing. I used the time to soak up MT sunshine and sniff the canola (also referred to as rapeseed), which had begun to bloom across the fields in brilliant yellow profusion during the course of my stay. In combination with the sky, clouds, and mountains, the effect is vibrantly colorful.

My host and former owner of the Quilt Gallery, Joan Hodgeboom, is always open for a jaunt in one direction or another. This year we had to curb the hike destinations (such as Glacier National Park) due to Joan’s falling-off-a-cliff accident of a couple months ago—as mentioned in Part 1 of this blog post. But after four years, Joan has a good idea of the small-town eclectic gallery/boutique and vegan eateries that I particularly enjoy exploring.

Whitefish, MT is definitely a yearly destination. We time the visit to catch their weekly farmer’s market. Besides the fresh produce, there’s a park full of art and craft vendors, musicians, food trucks and tables. We discovered the INDAH Sushi food truck this year with their amazingly delicious tempura bowls. My travel schedule coincided nicely with market days, and Joan and I dined at Indah twice. A culinary delight I’ll be looking forward to next year!

During both days off plus other evenings, I took advantage of Joan’s beautiful sewing studio to catch up on one of my long-unfinished projects—a portrait of my son and niece, Kissin’ Cousins—a fabric collage piece I’ve referred to in previous posts here and there and even here too. Time to get this done! If all goes as planned, you’ll be seeing it again soon.

After the two days off, it was time to return to the Quilt Gallery to meet my new class of students ready to jump into a five-day fabric collage experience. And again, daily, it was a pretty nice commute getting there. One day Joan drove us by Echo Lake (above). Beautiful.

One of my students posted this inspirational quote above her work table. One of the benefits of classes at a fabric store is the fact that you’re in a fabric store—for days. It’s quite convenient to walk a few feet and find options for fabric choices. Also quite easy to go home with more “must have” additions to one’s stash.
Getting back to work meant getting to spend a little more time with the new store owner, Marianne Buller (pictured on the right with Joan and me). I doubt that she had had much time off, though she seemed as energetic and pleasant as during the first week.
My class—pictured under the watchful eyes of Joan’s buzzard collage, left to right: back row—Lanette Cuffe, Susan Geissler, Ann Steck, Sharon Steele, Deb Zimmerman, Sunne Brandmeyer, Cathy Callaway, and Shelly Gawley; middle row—me, Sheri Salo, Marci Robman, Judy Deeter, and Patty Moore; front row—Moon, Joan Hodgeboom, and Edwina Steele. (not pictured; Teresa Wood)

And so it begins with introductions and subject ideas being unveiled and discussed. Ready, set, go with drawings, fabrics, scissors. Deb Zimmerman jumped right in with a portrait of her beloved dog, Bailey Boo (above). She described Bailey as having had a bright and colorful personality and Deb’s choice of fabric reflected that. Deb also took a very playful approach as to how she used the printed contours she found in the fabrics to convey the sense of tussled hair and energy she remembers about Bailey.

This collage of eyes was my Instagram post for the second class week. As serendipity would have it, I was conducting my eye demo in the Montana class as my husband Tom, was updating my Eye for an Eye blog post at home in Maine. Two days later the update with video was posted and my class, if they so desired, could have seen it all over again for a review. As far as I know, no one took me up on that suggestion, though they did just fine anyway.
Joan Hodgeboom worked on the cliff-face of her buzzard collage during her second week of class. I included story and photos from both week’s of her work together in—On the Road: Kalispell, MT 2017 Part 1.

Usually, I’m so caught up in the individual projects that I forget to step back and take photos of the big picture—the individual space itself, the wonderful chaos of fabric flung here and there, the increasing messiness of table-tops and floor, and the intent concentration in the faces of my students. This time, I remembered.

One pleasure of returning to Kalispell every year has been to see Sunne Brandmeyer (below left) again. She has taken every class of mine ever offered at the Quilt Gallery and has proved herself quite prolific with my fabric collage technique. This year she arrived with two projects in progress, which she brought up to the quilting stage in week 1—a pink flowered pig and a portrait of her granddaughter. In this second week she bit off the goal of commemorating the final deterioration and sinking earlier this year of a derelict cement ship that had been docked off of a pier in Monterey Bay, CA for decades. Of the hundreds of subject matter I’ve helped students convert to fabric, this was the first of a sinking ship. And I do believe that smile of satisfaction is well deserved. See more of Sunne’s quilts in last year’s Kalispell post and this Finish Line post.

Sharon Steele (above right) was half of the mother/daughter combo of this week’s class, attending with her mom, Edwina. Edwina first saw my work years ago at the International Quilt Festival in Houston when my quilt Dixie Dingo Dreaming was first exhibited. She was quite taken by the quilt and finally made it to a class, bringing her daughter along in the process. Edwina chose to learn the collage technique with one of my designs, a gecko. She admittedly struggled with the glue part of it, but you’d never guess that based on her result, which can be seen in the slide show below. Sharon chose to commemorate a Galapagos tortoise seen on a trip with her husband. Her color palette may not be evolutionarily correct, but I certainly think pink is a fine choice and I look forward to seeing how the old fellow evolves.

To see the week’s progress of all the great class projects, check out the following slide show.

Student Work Slideshow

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We had a few visitors over the course of the five days: Susan Geissler’s schnauzer (above left) arrived for a cameo with her portrait-in-progress; Moon’s husband (above right) was one of a few husband’s to drop by and check out the proceedings. He and Moon looked so perfect together I just had to get a photo of them. I don’t recollect his name, but I sure wish it was “Sunny”.

The show-stealer of the week was Tucker the Hedgehog. Tucker was rescued from a breeder by store employee (and past student of mine) Sammy Leonard. He has obviously now found his forever home with the care and attention Sammy is providing. Best yet, he loves burrowing in fabric (a readily available commodity), especially his custom-made travel pockets of hedgehog printed fabrics.

And now, as promised last week, the Part 2 time-lapse movie where you can (almost) see the quilts materialize (pun intended) in front of your eyes. Grab the Jiffy Pop (cause it’s not that long) and enjoy.

Time Lapse Movie of Student Work Part 2

To wrap this up, let’s just say there was lots of activity and progress during my two weeks spent in Montana. The days were full of creativity and each evening was a scenic drive returning to Joan’s home. And just like in my own home, pups were waiting to greet us.

Final photos for this week will be of Joan’s garden—a true “rock garden” where just a few hardy plants find root-holds in spaces between the endlessly varied specimens of rocks. Joan is crazy about rocks of all kinds, and her rock gardens are showcases for her collection from all over the country. During my stays at her home, I’ve developed an appreciation of rocks, whether laying in the ground or as polished specimens from the local rock shop, Kehoe’s—another enjoyable side trip. If you’re a rock hound as well, there are other rock and gemstone photos in the slideshow at the end of last year’s Kalispell blog post.

As I arrived home to Maine from my travels and Tom grunted as he lifted my maximum weight luggage into our car, he knew better than to ask, “what’s in here, rocks?!” Of course. Rocks, and fabric.

Farewell Quilt Gallery and Montana, until next year.


  • The I’s have it! Followed by a tie between Tucker and the red boots.
    Susan, are you sure your are “working” in Montana…sure looks like a vacation to me!!!
    Thanks for sharing this amazing work/play.

  • Beauty! I love living in the West, but have never made it to Montana…maybe next year the hub & I should load up the 5th wheel w/our puppers & head on up. And if I can work in a quilting class, more the better!

    The student projects are fantastic, but I have to comment specifically on the sloth … Those eyes are stunning! Thank you for sharing!

  • Love seeing the old boat in Aptos. Used to stay at the beach there and walk on that boat, was sad to hear when it sank. What a beautiful place to have the class and great work by all the students. Always inspiring.

  • Love hearing about your travels, along with the beautiful scenery and of course the collages!! Thanks Susan.

    • Thank you for sharing your students work! It is so inspiring so see the time lapse. The progress is impressive. Lovely vet your blog and learn so much just from viewing it.

  • thanks so much for sharing the amazing progress of your students – so much awesome obviously due to the fabulous teacher ! ! extra big love for that adorable sloth too 🙂

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