LS: Art of Quilting February 15, 2009

Valentine postcard contest is labor of love

Roses are red;                  violets are blue.

What could be sweeter thanValentine postcards for you?

I know it’s corny, but in honor of the season of romance, I’m showcasing the four winning entries of a Fiber Postcard Valentine Contest.

For the third year in a row, Fiberarts magazine invited readers to send handmade postcards to its offices in Loveland, where the publication is produced at Interweave Press.

The city of Loveland, capitalizing on its endearing moniker, also offers a special romantic postmark for Valentine’s Day each year. A poem that goes along with it is hand-stamped by local volunteers before the mail leaves the Sweetheart City’s post office.

So Fiberarts asks entrants to stamp and address their original postcard creations to family or friends in advance, leaving space for the poem, and mail them to the magazine office.

Before being re-mailed, the valentines are photographed and judged for publication in the magazine.

This year, four prizes were given.

First place and runner-up in the Jacquard card category were Heather Allen-Swarttouw of Asheville, N.C., and Ayelet Lindenstrauss Larsen of Bloomington, Ind.

The rules allowed any fiber materials and techniques, and the judges based their decisions on concept originality and innovative or exceptional use of materials and/or technique.

As a professional artist, Allen-Swarttouw collaged scraps of fabric previously used in her surface design techniques, which include immersion dyeing and shibori. Indigo dye gave her the effect of water ripples to complement her theme of vessels or boats on the card she made as a surprise for her husband.

“The vessels on the postcard represent my husband, Cornelius, and me ... in the sense that we are sharing a similar direction in our life and relationship,” Allen-Swarttouw explains.

The hearts on the white ground symbolize the universal light of love and spirituality, she says.

Runner-up Lindenstrauss Larsen made her postcard titled “Love from Afar” in canvas embroidery with simple cotton threads on linen ground.

“The woman is me, sending lots of love (or hearts),” she says.

Canvas embroidery is Lindenstrauss Larsen’s main technique, and she says she enjoys working in miniature.

The two fiber artists’ prizes consisted of a basket of Jacquard products including brushes, transfer paper, a screen printing kit, soda ash, paints, textile colors and dyes, stamp pad and inkjet prints and a DVD of stenciling techniques.

The second set of winners followed different rules; the categories required felting supplies.

Tracy Deniszczuk of Lake Saint Louis, Mo., won Felt Challenge No. 1: Wet Felting, with a 4-inch by 6-inch card featuring shiny Shisha mirrors surrounded with beads, beaded sequins and a stitched heart.

Judging was based on the most creative use of a reflective material incorporated into felt (must be entirely wet felted with no needle felting).

Wet felting is similar to shrinking a wool sweater in the wash. It is accomplished by wetting the fiber and rubbing it together until the scales of each fiber bond together.

Deniszczuk won 20-color short-fiber merino batting plus a 27-color pack of prefelt squares.

The final category, Felt Challenge No. 2: Needle Felting, asked contestants to send their most creative interpretation of a famous painting. Judges looked for accuracy of reproduction and innovative point of view.

Cytel Snyder of Granite Bay, Calif., took the honor in this category with her miniature rendition of “The Birth of Venus,” originally painted by Sandro Botticelli circa 1482–1486.

Snyder received a needle felting book titled “Animal Felt” by Birgitte Krag Hansen.

These valentines and other entries will appear in the April/May 2009 issue of Fiberarts, but they can be seen as early as March 1 on Links to galleries from the past two years can be seen at

For those who sent fiber valentines to the contest, their sweeties will read this Loveland postal poem on the back of each:

“From this Sweetheart City,

“I send this Valentine to you

“With lots of good wishes

“For the whole year through.”

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