Monday, September 30, 2013

Beginner's Quilting Class at Quilting Adventures in RVA

I had a fabulous workshop on Saturday with teacher Laura at Quilting Adventures. I learned how to machine quilt with a darning foot and a walking foot. Two things I'd never done before. It was great and it will make my projects not only easier but better. The unfortunate part of it is taking out tons of stitching on the wedding signature quilt in order to do the quilting part over. However, it was worth it because it looks ten times better and the quilt lays flatter. I look back at my other wall hangings now with disappointment. I want them to be better as well. So I have to decide if I want to take them apart and fix them or do another set. One problem with taking them apart is that I don't own three of them. So they would be left out. And the quilt that's in the city library is just an embarrassment to look at. I remember working so hard on it, but in 1999, I didn't know a thing about quilting - at least compared to now. I definitely want to take that one apart and redo it. But I won't. I will at least repair it. But I will do another family heirloom quilt and it will include new additions to our family - like my son for one. That will be a doosy because it will probably end up as big as the first one (eight by eleven feet). Fortunately, we've only lost one member of our family in the last fourteen years (knock on wood). So stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Signature Quilt for a Wedding

Here is something that I've been working on since March that I'd never posted. I'm still working on it. I'm learning some quilting techniques that I would like to apply to this wall hanging, but I didn't want to practice on it. But here are a few pictures. (Sorry, I didn't take any pictures of the beginning stages.)
In this foot, I'd just finished spray basting it. I used a pinwheel design for the border blocks. The bride took the quilt top to her wedding for her guests to sign, then she returned it to me. Her wedding photo is where the square, gray panel is in the center.

Here, I'm doing a stitch in the ditch with yellow thread.

This stitch was taken out. I was trying to do this on all the black sections using a darning foot but I couldn't keep my lines straight. I ended up using the regular foot.
More photos on this quilt to come....

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Field of Afros" by Unicia Buster (Continued)

Back of the top layer.

Batting adhered to the back of the top layer.

Back layer adhered to the back of the batting.

This is what I used to adhere the three layers together.

I safety pinned some areas and corners.
Hopefully, I will start free-motion quilting soon. It's pretty thick though, but we'll see. It's interesting because I've never free-motion quilted before.We'll see...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"My Hair Naturally" series

"My art is an expression of my experiences in life. It becomes an opened diary to the world." ~Unicia R. Buster

In the series "My Hair Naturally," I explore the varying textures of African-American hair. Living in a nation where, we, African-Americans are taught early to hide, conceal or chemically alter our hair because it is difficult to deal with or unpleasant to behold, I seek to show the beauty of God’s natural creation. Our hair is full of intricate waves, spirals, curls and coils, which, in more ways than one, imitate things in nature and the patterns we recreate from nature. In some of my compositions (namely the quilted wall hangings) I juxtapose different natural hairstyles with things in nature and around us to show the similarities between the two. I explore different techniques to get the most I can out of the fabric/textile, paint or photograph to create my art.

In the future, I would like to create a book on this series. If you would be interested in purchasing a book, I would love to hear back from you. (Please do not use any of the images below without written permission from me.) Thank you.

“Afro Mane” by Unicia R. Buster
 Quilted wall hanging   $375.00
The mane of a lion defines this majestic creature, giving it character and style. When a man or a woman wears their hair in an afro style, they are making a statement that puts emphasis on their personality, among other things.
(I cut hundreds of little rectangle pieces and glued them to the quilt top for fabric glue. Then I stitched over the rectangles with straight lines to secure in place. The faces are done with fabric and stitching.)

“Bamboo Locs” by Unicia R. Buster
Quilted wall hanging          $375.00
Besides the cylindrical similarities of bamboo with locs, I chose the plant for its strength in structure. Much like locked, intertwined hair, the bamboo’s vascular make-up and growth pattern enables it to stay firm and unyielding to the elements.
(Each loc and bamboo was made by wrapping yarn - about 10 pieces of yarn each - with a folded lengthwise piece of fabric. The ends were hot glued and then the piece was hot glued to the quilt top. I stitched along the edges to secure in place. His face was done with fabric and stitching. Some fabric paint was added to the bamboo and chest.)

“Bold and Beautiful” by Unicia R. Buster
Quilted wall hanging          $375.00
In approbation of anyone facing a long term illness with strength and courage, the strong and intelligent elephant is a symbol of this strength. The beautiful mammal stands firm without a mane and gives empowerment to those who lose their hair due to treatments for their illness. Awareness ribbons are worn to educate others about particular ailments. I chose to represent cancer because of friends I’ve lost to the disease. The cancer awareness ribbons represented here are: White (lung cancer), yellow (bone, bladder or anal cancer), blue (colon cancer), light blue (prostate cancer), purple (pancreatic cancer), lavender (all cancers), periwinkle (esophageal or stomach cancer), pink/blue (male breast cancer), orange (leukemia or kidney cancer), grey (brain cancer), black (melanoma), pink (breast cancer), green (kidney cancer or renal cell carcinoma), teal (gynecological cancer), violet (Hodgkin’s lymphoma) and gold (osteosarcoma or childhood cancer). There are others.
(I made my own binding strips in different colors and then cut them down to size. Then I overlapped the ends and stitched them to the quilt top. I also made a strand of beads and then stitched it onto her neck and directly stitched on the beads for her earrings. Her face was painted using fabric paint.)

“Woolly Afro” by Unicia R. Buster
Quilted wall hanging (SOLD)
Our hair strand is just as unique as the hue of our skin, the shapes of our noses and the pattern of our fingerprints. Even each individual strand on one person’s head grows a little differently from the next. What’s similar is that each strand consists of cylindrical fibers of keratin growing from the skin, whether its sheep’s skin, human skin or some other mammal’s skin.
(I cut many pieces of circles and attached them the same way I attached the rectangles in an earlier quilt. Her face is stitched on as the lamb's and sheep's.)
"Basket Weave II" by Unicia R. Buster
Film black and white photograph
Nature influences our way of life, guides us with her elements and gives us the fruits of her labor. What should we do in return?

"Basket Weave I" by Unicia R. Buster
Film black and white photograph

“Golden Locs II” by Unicia R. Buster
Film color photograph
A play on the word, Goldilocks of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, I am juxtaposing the mental image of a little white girl with blonde curly hair with that of an actual image of a black lady with gold-dyed locs. When I was young, being white with blonde, wavy hair and blue eyes was the epitome of beauty and being black with nappy hair was ugly. We are slowly moving away from that thought pattern.

“My Nesting Place by Unicia R. Buster
Digital color photograph
A bird carefully and skillfully builds its home from selected objects in nature and continues with adornments. A home is that familiar, comfortable place we go to relax. We build it, we grow it, we tinker with it, we adorn it and, sometimes, we change it out. But we always love it.

“The Forest by Unicia R. Buster
Film color photograph
With advertisements constantly telling us how we should look and what we should buy to conform to society, it’s no wonder why we get lost sometimes in the jungle in our efforts to find ourselves and our identity.

"Afro Clouds" by Unicia R. Buster
Quilted Wall Hanging (SOLD)
(The hair and clouds were done by applique each section most of the way leaving a little opening.  I stuffed polyester fill into the opening and then finished stitching the applique down to the quilt top. Her face is stitched.)

"Afro Flowers" by Unicia R. Buster
Quilted Wall Hanging (SOLD)
(The hair and flowers were done by scrunching up fabric scraps and stitching them into place on the quilt top).

"Hair Naturally: Bantu" by Unicia R. Buster
Acrylic Painting $50

“Freedom with Constraints” by Unicia R. Buster
Quilted wall hanging (SOLD)
America, the land of the free, where we are free to express our individuality without persecution from how we worship to how we wear and adorn our hair … or are we?
(Each plait was done by group together three strips of fabric and plaiting them together. The end was tied in a knot. The plait was stitched down onto the quilt top 3/4 of the way down).

"Hair Naturally 2" by Unicia R. Buster
Acrylic Painting

"Hair Naturally 1" by Unicia R. Buster
Acrylic Painting (SOLD)
"Snowy Bantu" by Unicia R. Buster
Quilted wall hanging $375
(The hair style, falling snow and coal on the snow man was done by glueing  yarn in a spiral pattern directly to the quilt top using fabric glue. Most everything else is appliqued. The face of the woman is painted on as well as the "lights" of the buildings behind her.)

(Unfinished version in this photo)
“Windy” by Unicia R. Buster
Quilted wall hanging          $275.00
The wind can be unpredictable, strong and forceful, welcoming or calm and light. So, it is with our hair.
(I drew swirls on the backs of the fabric and cut them out. I glued them onto the fabric using fabric glue and stitched down the middle of the swirl to secure. I also did some swirly stitches over all of them in like colors. The face and neck is done using fabric paint and 3D paint.) The first image is the quilt with completed border. The second is before I put on the black border. Starting to think I should have chosen another color or a wider two-color border.

"Longevity" by Unicia R. Buster
Film Color Photograph

"Melissa" by Unicia R. Buster
Film Color Photograph

"Hair Naturally: Afro" by Unicia R. Buster
Acrylic Painting (NFS)

"Hair Naturally: Locs" by Unicia R. Buster
Acrylic Painting

"Subtle Details” by Unicia R. Buster
Film black and white photograph
With just the right touch, a hairstyle can look effortless.

"Textured Locs" by Unicia R. Buster
Film Color Photograph

"Thunder" by Unicia R. Buster
Film black and white photograph
"So What's Wrong With Beans?" by Unicia R. Buster
Film color photograph
Often when I was young, my grandmother and mother used to refer to the back of my head as "beans." And when my hair would be "fried" using a hot comb and plenty of grease, the saying used to be "we need to pop dem beans!" The "beans" were just tightly coiled hair. Upon close inspection, they were like miniature ringlets. In this photograph, I positioned Daniel's head of beautifully coiled hair over a surface of beans. It just so happened to work out perfectly that she wore a wool sweater, as our hair has often been associated to the likeness of wool. More and more women in this 21st century are wearing their hair natural becoming more bold with their styles. Which is something we did centuries ago but forgot in our efforts to conform and fit it.
Thank you for viewing my work from this series. Look for more to come. Please keep in mind that these images are copyrighted and belong to me. If you wish to use my images in any way, you must get permission from me. For purchasing information and all other inquiries, I can be contacted by emailing Thank you and keep checking back for more updates.

Sincerely, Unicia R. Buster

Copyright 2014