Adventures in Design: A Bookshelf Must-Have for Quilters, Artists, and More…Giveaway Added!!

Scheduled for publication, Monday, September 12.

It’s an industry trend that’s been pretty hard to miss: hundreds of new quilting, sewing, and fabric-crafting books are released every year. Every once in a while, however, a new book comes along that is so stunning in its content–both instructionally and visually–that it truthfully can be called a “must have” for every art-and-craft-library shelf. Lucky for us, this month we are gifted with one of these rare “instant classics:” Adventures in Design, the latest offering by Joen Wolfrom, one of the most respected lecturers/instructors on the subject of color and design for fiber (and other) artists today.

Joen Wolfrom at 2011 Spring Market, demonstrating one of her latest tools, The Studio Color Wheel.

You may be familiar with Joen through her twelve previous books and products, including the widely successful Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool and her new Studio Color Wheel; through her pattern company, JWD Publishing; or her recently launched blog, Playing with Color. She has tackled the subject of design in detail before, in her best-selling book, The Visual Dance, which was published in 1995 and is now available as an e-book download. However, after 16 years, Joen realized it was time for more than a simple update. In fact, “within two weeks after I finished The Visual Dance, I knew I wanted to write another book on design,” she says. In the interim, she has continued her own creative journey, including a serious interest in photography.

Adventures in Design is a juicy 144 pages, packed with information essential to the understanding and achievement of good design–color, shape, line, texture, unity, repetition, contrast, and so much more. It’s a valuable resource, not only for quilters and others who work with fiber, but for photographers and visual artists of all media. The book is divided into three main sections, each with activities and exercises to practice what you’ve learned: Setting the Stage: Eight Ingredients for Great Designs; Creating the Visual Dance: A Blueprint for Great Designs; and Designing Spectacular Quilts.

"House Through Arch" (38" x 44") by Lenore Crawford

Let me assure you: as valuable as this book is for its information, it is also pure eye candy!  To illustrate her lessons, Joen features over 150 spectacular quilts–both traditional and non-traditional–made by quilters and fiber artists from around the world (including Japan, South Africa, England, France, Canada, Australia, Northern Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands)…and the work is dazzling! You’ll probably recognize some of the names, others will be new to you. Here is just a sample, which includes the work of Lenore Crawford (Midland, MI), Rachel Wetzler (St. Charles, IL), Linda Beach (Estes Park, CO), Denise Labadie (Longmont, CO), and Larisa Key (Willimantic, CT).

"Setting Sun, Rising Moon" (60" x 36") by Linda Beach
"Bear Tracks in the Garden" (77" x 105") by Larisa Key; quilted by Gail B. Federowicz. Available as a pattern from JWD Publishing.
"Dun Aengus Stone Fort" (63" x 71") by Denise Labadie. Photo by Esmond Snell.
"A Matter of Perspective" (46" x 46") by Rachel Wetzler

If the text and quilt photos aren’t enough, the book is lavishly illustrated with helpful sketches and dozens of Joen’s outstanding photographs. Oh, how I wish I could show you more! (You’ll just need to purchase the book, I guess, which I highly recommend.)

!!!UPDATE!!!  Joen has graciously offered an autographed copy of  Adventures in Design as a giveaway in conjunction with this post. Just leave a comment below explaining why you’d like to have this book in your personal library by noon (PDT) Wednesday, October 5, and I’ll announce the winner in my Friday, October 7 post.

That’s all for this time. Before I sign off, however, congratulations to Colleen Gander, winner of A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue, the giveaway from my August 26 post. Have fun with Sue, Colleen!

‘Til next time, happy stitching!

 Okay, just one more…

"A Walk in the City" (25" x 38 1/2") by Lenore Crawford

30 thoughts on “Adventures in Design: A Bookshelf Must-Have for Quilters, Artists, and More…Giveaway Added!!

  1. Adventures in Design sounds like a great book. I love designing my own quilts and gathering new ideas. With 150 quilts to look at, I’m sure I can find something to inspire me.


  2. As a long-time fan of Joen and her work (I am honored to have two of my quilts pictured in her book Color Play!), I know I have learned and been influenced by her fantastic instructions and beautiful photographs. Having had a total knee replacement and losing my husband of 57 years to Parkinson’s, I look forward to next year as one of new beginnings and more creating. Joen’s latest book looks like a must-have!
    Martha Ginn


  3. I already have Joen’s newest book on my wish list. I was fortunate enough to take a workshop with Joen in “representational strip piecing” in 1984, I believe. I have every one of her books, and they are filled with stunning photography. I love paging through them again and again. I also love your book, Sensational Scrap Quilts. I believe it’s been nearly twenty years since that was first published. I know it’s a totally different genre than Joen’s books, but I love traditional and scrap quilts, and those are the kind I make most often. Are you going to be writing another quilt book anytime soon?


    1. Hi Sharon, You’re correct about Sensational Scrap Quilts…it will be 20 years in February! So many quilts since then! I have a book that just came out this spring, A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue, written with my friend, Christine Porter. Pure fun! You can check it out–and all the quilts in it–on the Martingale website. We’ve just finished another book that will come out next fall. This one isn’t about Sue; I can’t tell you what it’s about yet, but it has lots of fun, scrappy quilts to make. Darra


  4. Hi there,
    This would be a great book for my library because I want to start playing with color combinations in my quilts. I am an art quilter and THINK I have a fairly good handle on color, but non of my quilts are stunning. Thanks for the 3-in-1 color wheel. I have used it a little, but really like how the picking one color can lead to many combinations when considering all the tints, tones and color wheel positions ( triads, analogous, etc.). This sounds like a fantastic book and I, also, can’t wait to get your studio color wheel.


  5. I am sure this book will be great. I took a class with Joen through Orange County Quilters Guild a few years ago and was very impressed. I have an art degree from UCLA (however ended up in accounting for a career) and my daughter is currently studying art (Graphic Design) at Azusa Pacific University. My daughter and I are both quilters. I would love to share this book with her. It looks like it would be a great resource for some of her classes. Thanks for sharing!


  6. Hi Darra,
    I have all of Joen’s books and they are some of my most valuable possessions!! Because I learned so much from them and keep coming back to them over and over. The biggest impact on me was Visual Coloring – that book just spoke my mind back to me!! However, just when I thought it can’t get any better – I had an opportunity to take two days workshop with Joen, few years ago, in beautiful Wyoming county, NY – and that changed my life as a quilter, as an artist, as a person.
    So, needless to say – I KNOW that Joen’s new book is going to be amazing and a must have for me! 🙂 Actually I already place an my order but if I happen to win this one – it will go to my Guild’s library (just as I donated others too!), since I am passionate about spreading the word about Joen’s books and how much they can teach you!


  7. Hi Darra,
    After changing patterns to suit my liking for a few years now, I think I’m ready to make the jump into designing my own. It’s been year of loss for me. My 14-year-old kitty companion left me on 1/9/11, and my father began his, relatively, short battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, around the same time. I’d started a memory quilt of my cat, but had to put it aside, when my father was ill. We lost my father the day before my birthday, in April. I feel I have a lot to process, and I think it’s time to use my own designs to express my thoughts and feelings. Lessons from Joen’s new book, would definitely help me to do so with a whole lot more confidence!
    Beth in AZ


    1. Dear Beth, I am so sorry to hear of your losses. I’ve found that making quilts, especially memorial quilts, is a very therapeutic way to work through some of the grief. I’ve also found that sometimes it takes a while to find the inspiration and the energy. Be good to yourself. Darra


  8. One that has truly meant a lot to me during my quilt journey is Joen Wolfrom. I have 5 of her books and the Color Tool and I would love to win a signed book to add to my collection. This book looks as stunning as all the others.


  9. Darra,
    I would really love this book. My husband and my favorite place to visit is Pointsett Bridge (Google: Pointsett Bridge Greenville SC). The picture of Dun Anegus Stone Fort reminds me of this site. BW often mentions what a great wall hanging the bridge would make. I have photos from all seasons at the bridge. Of course, he also thinks a companion piece would be the covered bridge, last surviving covered bridge in SC. Both sites are very near our home. After 52 years of marriage and quilting guess it is time and he deserves it.

    I love Joen’s books – have every one of them. Often reread for inspiration.


  10. I’d love to win Joen’s new book. I’m just emerging from eleven difficult months. First, I had a fire in the space below my quilting studio. I had smoke damage to my lifetime collection of commercial & hand-painted fabrics. I lost my car in the fire. Then I suffered through about nine months with severe carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. Next, I moved 2800 miles away from my design group, quilt guild & friends. No one could make this stuff up! This is definitely not a pity-party, just a description of a very hard year. I need a treat!

    Hopefully yours, Judith


    1. My goodness, Judith, you have had quite a year! I hope you are beginning to get settled in your new home, and are finding lots of new quilting friends. It takes a little while to adjust after such a huge move (I moved from NC to CA about 10 years back), but it does happen. Quilters have an amazing way of finding each other! Hang in there, and good luck in the drawing. Darra


  11. Joen’s use of color and design is absolutely magical! And who can’t use more magic in their life? I would love to have this new book to inspire me to pull something new and exciting out of my hat!


  12. With so many books out there, it’s nice to have insight into what is offered. The information you shared was so helpful! All of us who quilt – whether on a novice or expert level – put a lot of time and love into what we do, so obviously we want it to be the best it cane be. The part I sometimes struggle with is color. Most often, I play it safe, staying within a collection. I would love to grow beyond that, and this book seems like it would be a great tool to help me do that. I’ll wait to see if I’m lucky, but if not, will HAVE to go acquire it…


  13. How can I possibly leave a comment when the preview pictures leave me speechless!! Especially the Dun Anegus Stone Fort! Wow! This book looks like just the thing to inspire, enlighten, or just enjoy when you’re too tired to actually sew. Lovely!


  14. Hi Darra,
    I just had to stop by to read what you had written about Adventures in Design. Wow! Thank you so much for the beautiful words. Honestly, I loved working on this book in every aspect and detail. It took a few years, but I really wanted to create a book that I wished I would have had when I first began designing my own quilts and textile/fabric art. I hope all who read this book will both enjoy the learning and the browsing. Those whose quilts are shown in the book have shared beautiful works of art with all of us. Besides being so talented, they have been generous— and I am so grateful.

    I would like to offer one of your readers a copy of Adventures in Design. All your readers would have to do is provide a most heart-rendering or imaginative blog comment about why they would like a copy of Adventures in Design. Next Friday you can select the winner of the book. Then I’ll send a signed copy to your selected winner.

    Again, many thanks for blogging about Adventures in Design. This book, a true labor or love, is my favorite of all the books I have written. I am so excited that it is now in print.

    Joen Wolfrom


    1. Thanks for the kind words, Joen, and for the offer of the book! It was easy to write great things about Adventures in Design because it is so wonderful 😉 Darra


  15. Darra
    That was a delicious insight into Joen’s new book. I have already placed the order for mine!
    I’m looking out of window at the leaves beginning to turn and I am already inspired, all I need is Joen’s book to accompany me on my journey to create a new quilt.
    Love from Chris


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