Using Commerical Prints for Meaning in Art Quilts

This is the first post on the newly sited Ragged Cloth Cafe and as you’ll see, it brings some changes. The biggest change is that we are expanding the possibilities for discussion, asking for your input about your own experiences with art and textiles. This does not mean that Maggie won’t turn her back on you if you talk about your aching knees — and June will probably snort inappropriately if you bring your (beautiful and talented) grandchildren to the cafe. But it does mean that you can discuss the art you have made using those beautiful grandchildren as objects of veneration, and if your grandmother’s knees show up in a wall hanging that you’ve done, you can even discuss their wrinkled and worn look (being a grandmother, I can attest…..)

So, here’s a post to start us off. I’m going to try to stick to the inverted pyramid style (say what you have to say first and foremost and save the details for later) and end with a question directed at anyone who happens onto the blog. Please feel free to join in and tell us/show us your artistic ideas and ventures.

Using Prints for meaning in textile arts

In thinking about sub-categories of styles among textile arts, I have been maundering around about the use of fabrics as one of the distinguishing marks of the artists among us. Specifically, I can see at least two distinct categories (I’m sure there are more) of fabrics users — those who smoosh things together in a painterly style, like myself, and those who carefully choose among commercial fabrics to design, with fusing, seaming, and applique, recognizable imagery.


Here’s an example of the careful choice of commercial prints to make a statement. This is Barbara Littlefield’s “Hot,” a title which is wonderfully appropriate. It’s not a complicated set of fabrics, nor a complicated image, but it immediately invokes an understanding of the situation. While the primary focus has to be in the look the female is directing at the male, the background commercial fabric in some sense “makes” the meaning. And the car accessories, depicted in that gold ochre print fabric, equally make the point about the relationship (or not) of the couple.

Another person who uses commercial fabrics in this way is Terry Grant.

I don’t (yet) have permission to put Terry’s work on the web, but you can see her work if you click on her name above.

Both Terry and Barbara have strong backgrounds in sewing and textiles. On the other hand, I have almost no background in textiles prior to taking up art quilting in the early 1990’s. I think that may be why my approach tends to be whole cloth smooshed, or, as I prefer to put it, “painterly.”


Above is my piece, “Mrs Willard Waltzes with the Wisteria.” Even though some of the flowers are fussy-cut and fused, the overall impression is much more painterly and diffuse than Terry and Barbara create.

The two looks are very different. Terry and Barbara both have a crisp clear look to their work that is definitely absent from mine. But they both also convey a strong sense of meaning and intentionality — they don’t use fabrics just because they like them. They use them in order to get across a vision or idea.


This is Barbara’s “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” which uses florals somewhat like I do, but she cuts the florals with other commercial fabrics, like the stripes and polka dots. I find this piece to have a kind of tension that Mrs Willard lacks, and I think it comes through the geometries of the fabrics and the piecing and the wildness of the fussy cut florals. It’s also due, of course, to the image of the couple themselves.

Here’s a closer view of Mrs. Willard:


My question, then, is where does your work fit into these categories? And if it doesn’t, what other sub- groups would you suggest? When you think of the work of textile artists whom you know, can you see them falling into one or the other of these categories? And how would we place the Art-to-Wear and doll textile artists — can they be sorted in anything like these ways?


25 Responses to “Using Commerical Prints for Meaning in Art Quilts”

  1. 1 June February 14, 2007 at 11:30 am


    I wish you would do a separate post on what you do with commercial fabrics. The outlining in black (done with your particular techniques), for example, adds to that “crispness” of which you speak. I think that if we could see a good mix of your work, the direction that you tend to go in would be much clearer than anything I can spout.

  2. 2 terry grant February 13, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Having been out of the country for a couple of weeks I just checked in on the new home of raggedcloth and see my name being bandied about! Great subject (for me)–commercial fabrics and their use in art quilts. We users of commercial prints seem to be in the minority and sometimes looked down upon, but for me they are, as Sandy said, reference to and connection with, the traditional part of textiles and quiltmaking, but in a way of turning it on its head. They also satisfy my love of print and pattern and I find it thrills me in some very elemental way to find the combinations that speak to each other in a way that was never intended by the original designer. Unlike handpainted or dyed fabrics, that can be quite wonderful, but are by their nature, rather homogenious and what I can only describe as “smooshy”, prints are crisp and assertive and introduce a kind of rhythm and elements of surprise that I really find challenging and really very fun to work with.

    And for clarification, June said I had a background in textiles, which is only partly true. It is true that I have sewn for almost my whole life, but I have also done art as long and have a BA in art as a painting and printmaking major, as well as a certificate in graphic design. In terms of what I do now, I see the art background as the real source and the sewing background as the tools to accomplish the work.

  3. 3 Clairan Ferrono February 5, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    I too use both commercial and hand dyed or painted or markered or pasteled fabric in my work — whatever works at the time! And I wonder, June, what difference you see it making — conceptually or otherwise. . . .

    By the way, I love a plaid leaf now and again — for the zing! of it. I frequently put together fabrics you’d never think to see together — lots of batiks and Japanese fabric with a 1950’s plaid. It’s amazing what you can get your eye to accept that your mind would reject aforehand.

    I need a gigundo hot tea here — it’s 33- with wind chill in Chicago!

  4. 4 Sandra Wagner February 5, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    I also have been on the Ragged list forever – read alot – posted nothing. I dye and paint fabric but also use some commerical. I hardly ever fussy cut (has to be a special batik piece). I have no formal art or drawing training but the sewing machine and I have been friends forever.

    I prefer random piecing – letting the colors create the design. I like to create depth with surface design. My biggest problem is seeing in my mind what I want and putting it to fabric – thus – most pieces I do change many times before the end.

    I like the idea of book discussions – I would be interested in volunteering on a limited basis.

    Keep the latte’s flowing.

    Sandy in the Northern California Mountains

  5. 5 June February 5, 2007 at 11:00 am

    I’m harking back to Zelda’s comment too, on freeform knit and crochet. I have absolutely no idea what these might be — the closest I can come is a bead artist from Washington State, Tina, whose last name escapes me.

    Zelda, maybe we need a blog from you, too, on freeform work. The surrealists certainly come to mind, as does the term “indeterminate.” Indeterminate speaks of pattern that refuses to stick to its business — it wanders off into other territory.

  6. 6 June February 5, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Hey Judy,

    Glad you showed up for a latte and some whipped cream. And pretty pictures! Pull up a chair and join the conversations.


    Perhaps you could do a post from the teacher’s vantage point — how do you deal with those two kinds of working processes — on the fly and measure and plan?

    I have been in workshops where I was supposed to plan, but could never get beyond the doodle sketch before I dove in. This has certain disadvantages — I got into a lot of trouble — not leaving enough seam allowance, deciding something I had sewn in wasn’t what I wanted — ten steps later. But I haven’t changed my ways. It’s why I love oil painting, although even there I can finally ruin a work.

    The mantra of a bead artist I know is one I keep repeating “Trouble shooting is a lot more fun than planning ahead.”

    And now I’ve changed the topic, so it must be time to start a new one.

  7. 7 Judy Martin February 5, 2007 at 6:59 am

    I am at present using commerical prints for meaning in my newest piece and would like to contribute to this discussion. For now however, I just want to say that I have been a member of Ragged Cloth Cafe for ages and have never contributed. Never.
    However, this new blog is fantastic because of the interaction and the visuals right there for us to see. Thank you June Underwood. (and all others who are responsible for this new look)

  8. 8 Jane Davila February 5, 2007 at 5:10 am

    I have a question about “automatic writing”. Is the end result these spontaneous thoughts? Or is it a means of getting some raw material to refine later? If the latter is the case, would the process of sketching and doodling to provide a starting point for later work be the same thing in the visual arts? If the former, would gesture drawings qualify?

    As a teacher, I’ve noticed that people either sketch and plan ahead (with room for intuitive change) or they don’t. Some people can only directly attack the medium and design “on the fly”. Of course some of the people who plan ahead and sketch don’t leave room for intuitive change, but perhaps they’ve already worked through all of the alternatives in their head before cutting the first piece of fabric. I find the design process itself fascinating to watch in other artists.

  9. 9 alison February 4, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    I think many quilted textile artists use commercial prints and hand dyed fabrics together for enhanced meaning in their works – my own contains many examples of which some on my website are and

    And mine is mostly not pictorial in any sense. I think the prints chosen add a richness, an overall texture to the colours I use to express what’s on my mind when creating a piece. So, in a sense I see fabrics as paint, really, they don’t necessarily have to themselves have been painted or dyed by myself or anyone else to be used as a resource in textile art. If I worked in a pictorial way I’d aim to have Huws’ skill, or indeed Jane Birch Cochoran. but often feel a bit uneasy about Ruth Mcdowell’s choice of fabrics, feeling that so often yes, they do provide just the right shade of leafy brown for example, but a large plaid leaf is to me a bit distracting. Her piecing methods are legendary but beside the point in this discussion.

    I have been tempted from time to time to buy interesting ‘novelty’ or theme prints, say Elvis, icream cones, racing cars, halloween etc, and I put florals in this same category!… but have then found I, Alison, have nothing to say with ‘them’ no matter how interesting.

    June asks: “automatic writing: a method of writing down as quickly as she could whatever came into her head.” Is there an equivalent in the visual arts? ”
    Yes, I see the phrase ‘designs intuitively’ as a process akin to stream of consciousness writing, or that unstructured speech/running on at the mouth I term “verbal diahorrea”. Now I may have this wrong, but so often when I read this proud claim by some artist,”…I design intuitively..” and it’s very current in the art quilt world, I think it involves processes, and results, very like the above or even like making a quick sketch, or even a doodle.

  10. 10 june February 4, 2007 at 10:17 am


    You describe something I think of as in-between using commercial prints as paint, and painting whole-cloths to make art — that is, you describe the deliberate distortion and overlayering of commercial fabrics. My immmediate thought is that that allows bits and pieces of the original “meaning” of the commercial fabrics, because it’s deliberately obscured, to become part of the meaning of the whole. For example, when you distort or simulate script that can’t actually be read, our minds instantly think of mysterious messages, hidden meanings. The same visual identification and query would be true of flowers or any kind of clear printed imagery that’s distorted; our minds would want to read the imagery but would be prevented from doing so and that would be part of the piece’s meaning.

    I think that’s different from using prints as paint, as Barbara (and many others) do. Your “markings” however, are very similar to my whole-cloth textile work in approach and technique.

    This is just brainstorming — I could be entirely wrong.


    I think the term “fiber artist” was first picked up by weavers, so I try to stay away from it. Theoretically, of course, it can apply to all of us. But I tend to use “textile” artist, meaning that I don’t crochet, knit, or weave, but do use fabric as my primary medium in the making of art. My secondary medium is paint.


    I have gone in the opposite direction: I now tend to dye and paint fabric as I see a specific need. This isn’t entirely true, because especially when I dye, I make more than I can imagine any need for. But the more I’ve worked in this medium, the further I get away from needing a large stash. I would suspect that if you use prints or even hand-dyes as paint, however, you would need to have a lot on hand, just as I need to have a lot and a large variety of painting/marking materials on hand.

  11. 11 Sarah Ann Smith February 4, 2007 at 7:47 am

    How about “Eclectic Opportunist” as a category?

    Joan: When you mentioned using fabric for its meaning, I immediately thought of Shawn Quinlan’s very political statements using selectively cut imagery.

    For me, I tend to use both hand dyed, hand painted and commercial prints, but intentionally obscure the intended meaning of the fabric most of the time. For example, I have used leftover Halloween bat fabric (pants for my oldest when he was 4) over-painted as a stucco wall in a nativity quilt and as the foundation of a Maine stone wall (yellow and red nose and eyes carefully obscured with fused rocks or painted over).

    I use batiks quite a bit for visual texture, because they are a shortcut to making visually complex cloth myself. There are so many hours in a day, and there aren’t enough of them. I have used other bits of stash in the same way, but on rare occasion use fussy cuts on purpose (the toaster and salt and pepper shakers in “Flying Toast,” a quilt about my grandmother’s kitchen sparked by finding the “ugly linoleum” looking fabric used for the floor). And one of these days there is going to be what I HOPe will be a witty quilt on the “Wash on Monday” rhyme with conversational prints and select quotations, like Dorothy Parker’s “the way to do housework is to sweep the room with a glance.”

    I am, however, incredibly inspired by the work Virginia Spiegel and Liz Berg have done in their Jan. 2007 month-long “artist in residency” at Karey B’s retreat in Texas. For the first time, I think I need to simply make yards and yards and yards of cloth myself as stash rather than trying to make fabric specificaly for a piece. Here’s a link to Liz’s blogging of the past month:

    And totally apart from the fabric as meaning topic: I was totally absent the past couple months (lurking) and neglecting the conversation because, frankly, Life Happens. Kids take time (I know, I’m standing braced for my lashing with the wet noodle), and sometimes I don’t get to indulge in my passion for learning. But Ragged Cloth has been an INCREDIBLE learning experience for me. When I can, I’ll chime in. The rest of the time, I’ll be grateful to those who carry the conversation on and from which I benefit. Even though Maggie, cat and cafe have relocated, I’m glad it’s still around. Thanks to one and all, Sarah

  12. 12 Zelda K February 4, 2007 at 7:41 am

    June asks: automatic writing: a method of writing down as quickly as she could whatever came into her head.” Is there an equivalent in the visual arts?

    Take a look at freeform knit and crochet. Which brings me to the point that not all fiber art comes from fabric. I’ve always thought fiber art encompassed much in addition to the artistic uses of fabric.

    And some of the surrealists seem to paint whatever comes into their heads.

  13. 13 marion barnett February 4, 2007 at 1:42 am

    I rarely use commercial fabrics. Or at least I didn’t. And that was to do with meaning; I don’t like using a floral (say), which already has a number of meanings in my head, and in other peoples’. I want focus on the meaning I’m trying to create, and I feel patterned fabric gets in the way of that. I’d rather use random marks. Now, however, I have an embellisher. It distorts cloth slightly as you use it, depending on its weight, and creates texture. Meanings seem to be distorted, too, so it is less of an issue. Or maybe I’m loosening up? Who knows? Actually, who cares …it’s the result that matters.

  14. 14 june February 3, 2007 at 7:54 pm


    You said: “The fabric I make is inherently about its quality as textile- that is, its ability to take colour whether by dyeing or printing and then its ability to take stitching, I am very much influenced by the inherent qualities of textile- the texture and the hand that it has.” Is it this focus within your art what lead you to (or maybe it comes out of) your interest in the history of textiles?

    I’m reminded of the artists in the mid-20th century who claimed their paintings were about the paint. These include those old bugaboos Rothko and company, of course, which I know will make you shudder.

    But I am thinking that your strong feelings about the neglect of textiles as an art medium might come (justifiably) from the fact that slubbery paint has been allowed to be about itself, but not glorious textiles. Is this a fair assessment? You needn’t answer these questions, ’cause they may just be paraphrases of what you already said!


    You tried to sneak that one by me, but I also read the Writer’s Almanac
    and I see the next line of Keillor’s comment about Stein is “As a way of breaking free of language, [William James] suggested she try something called automatic writing: a method of writing down as quickly as she could whatever came into her head.” Is there an equivalent in the visual arts?

    I also think you are taking a sly swipe at our favorite point of disagreement — you hate categories as much as I love them. And we are both right, of course. As we are both right about language being a cheat and a liar and about the best that we can do

    I should have thought of your work — if anyone’s interested, they can find some images at ArtQuiltReviews

    And finally, Joan,

    Thanks for the links to Huws, McDowell, and Falk. I should at least have remembered McDowell — I once took half a workshop from her. I was too sick to continue with the other half, which might account for my failing to comprehend all the glories in commercial prints. Or maybe not. Perhaps I just like smooshing all that paint around.

  15. 15 Sandy Donabed February 3, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    This is great- no one ever asks me what fabrics I use! I only use ‘found’ fabrics, never do much dying or painting because I can find whatever I need already printed. And of course I have a vast store of vintage linens that are the basis for practically all my quilts. That said, I also do alot of digital printing on this fabric- easier and faster than applique. I should say that using these fabrics keeps me ‘grounded in the quilting tradition’ or some such art-speak- but really it is just what speaks to me and inspires each new piece. I love working with someone else’s fabrics. And also, have you noticed that there is a core New England group that still uses commercial fabrics almost exclusively? Is this somewhat geographical or is it that I only see what I like?

  16. 16 thelmasmith February 3, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Not a reply about using commercial fabrics. Rather a reply or at least a hopefully thoughtful quote from The Writers’ Almanac about the use of words.

    Words play such a big part in the way we not only work but how we think about how we work. I am fascinated by thinking about the limitations pointed out in this quotation.

    “It’s the birthday of the avant-garde novelist and poet Gertrude Stein, (books by this author) born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (1874). She was one of the early students at Radcliffe College, the sister school to Harvard University, and her favorite professor was the psychologist William James. He taught her that language often tricks us into thinking in particular ways and along particular lines.” © The Writers’ Almanac

  17. 17 Dijanne February 3, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    I don’t use fabric in either of these ways either. The fabric I make is inherently about its quality as textile- that is its ability to take colour whether by dyeing or printing and then its ability to take stitching, I am very much influenced by the inherent qualities of textile- the texture and the hand that it has. ( and gee thanks Barbara for your comments about my dyeing)All of my work starts out as a study in the use of textile and whatever happens after is an interaction of circumstances. The history of textiles ( and by extension the history of art which is an amazing record of the history of textile until the advent of modernism, where in one of those strange juxtapositions, it had become easier to produce textiles because there was demand, yet art has set about negating textiles as an object to be treasured or indeed valued)is a rich source of inventiveness, richness and heritgae.

  18. 18 joan February 3, 2007 at 11:10 am

    I so want to contribute whatever I can to make this RCC work but I am almost embarrassed to say that I hadn’t really thought about using commercial prints for meaning in quilts. Thank you, June, for these insights into how you work. I have always wondered what an artist meant when she used the term painterly. I liked the wikipedia article And your use of the technical term “smoosh” was very helpful.
    My first quilts were collaborations in applique. I love Barbara’s description of her feelings about commercial fabrics. I feel that way, too (can you see my tail wagging?). I sometimes think I must have some disorder. I’m trying to find my own way to work and have been seduced by the dye, as well. I think I fall into the category of using fabric for color and texture.
    Three users of commercial prints that come to mind are Edrica Huws (I have a copy of the Japanese book, Patchwork Pictures, and somehow have some images on my computer which I could post but I can find no links and have no permission); Ruth McDowell (; and Darcy Falk ( I think in Huws’s case, she had a conventional art school training but used only scraps to achieve spontaniety, not unlike the African American quilters from Gees’ Bend. So, does the viewer impute meaning?

  19. 19 Laoni February 2, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Exactly……….they are complete opposite and the contrast is the thing.

  20. 20 Barbara February 2, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    June wrote to me and asked that she wished I had made my comments on line. I am trying to avoid any more computer lists, they cut into my studio time, but June is a good friend, and she got me thinking. I owe it to her.

    Below is the copy of the email that I sent her earlier today. And yes indeed, I think of fabric a paint. I use it for it’s images, or texture, or color, or a combination of the above.

    If I were a dog, fabric would make me wag my tail, now what more can you ask for?

    > *Upon reflection, or while doing the dishes, whichever you prefer; I
    > have clarifications to add to my previous email. *
    > **
    > *I told you I had worked in other mediums, and it was a very true
    > statement. I took lessons for years, both in school and as an adult.
    > There were stacks of paintings, drawings, a bit of sculpture, even
    > some mosaic work. All of which was adequate, all of which is long
    > gone. I did hand embroidery, and needlepoint, I even developed some of
    > my own designs. When I was 40 I tried traditional quilting, something
    > I had an interest in doing for years. In all of those mediums I was
    > adequate, in some I was even pretty good, but I was not fulfilled or
    > inspired in any of them. *
    > **
    > *It was only after I blew out my elbow doing reverse appliqué that I
    > explored machine quilting. The only skill that carried over from my
    > clothing making years was use of the machine for sewing seams, and a
    > bit of knowledge on how fabric would behave. I learned the techniques
    > of the art quilt world, just about the only one I haven’t learned is
    > dyeing (I think because most of the hand dyed fabric I saw looked like
    > it all had the same texture, and I was not inspired by it. The best
    > dyer I have ever seen is Dijanne, her work is unique, and speaks of
    > her). It is the natural combination of all my life skills that have
    > allowed me to find my unique voice, and create work that I find
    > fulfilling and inspiring. (If the rest of the world enjoys it, great,
    > but they like my other stuff too. This is for ME.)*
    > **
    > *Unfortunately for me, I have chosen an unpopular medium by
    > choosing textile, and to make me even more unfortunate, in an
    > unpopular medium, I have chosen to not use the favored techniques of
    > dyeing, painting, and unusual surface texture. I can do them, I just
    > feel they don’t reflect me, and they don’t thrill me, so what is the
    > point?*
    > **
    > *What does all this meandering mean? I think it means that I came to
    > what I am doing with about the same background as you did, except I
    > knew how to use a sewing machine. My choice to use commercial fabric
    > is based on the fact that I think it is exactly perfect to express
    > myself with. *
    > **
    > *Does this make any sense at all????*

  21. 21 june February 2, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Barbara has commented that she thinks her background and mine are similar (I have reservations, but I’ll save them). She says that I haven’t separated personal history from artistic choice and that that could be at best misleading.

    Jane, I think that Terry and Barbara would say the same as you — commercial prints used as paint. I find that a very specific look, not found with batiks or hand-dyes. Now both Terry and Barbara would use (have used) hand-dyes (I think) but they tend to look at prints as paint. I look at dyes, acrylics, watercolor as paint. I look at prints as, well, fabric.

    I am having trouble, though, remembering what Pam RuBert uses in her work; I probably was overwhelmed by the image itself and never looked closely.

    Laoni, I am having trouble combining Hunderwasser and O’Keefe — they seem diametric opposites to me. What am I not seeing? Maybe we need a separate post from you on this.

    While your comment about the piece being “all yours” can be understood in a general way, I think that those who use commercial prints would say that in the same general way, their pieces are “all theirs.” In fact, unless you grow the cotton or cultivate the silk worms, card it, spin it, weave it and then dye etc, no piece could be legitimately said to be “all someones.”

  22. 22 Laoni February 2, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Just to add one more note. I am really enjoying dyeing my own fabric and threads. I can get just the shade I want or use various techniques to add shadow to fabric, etc. This allows the piece to be all mine from the beginning design stage to the end of project.

  23. 23 Laoni February 2, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    I am just getting my feet wet. I have used my retirement to explore some areas that require more time than I did have. I think that I will eventually end up in the “painterly” category. I am taking City and Guilds classes and now Gail Harker’s classes. We dye and paint all of our fabrics and threads so that is my orientation. I suspect that what I do will be more abstract than June’s, but I have just finished a drawing class with Richard Box and am trying to sketch something each day. Perhaps I will eventually try for a realistic outcome. My goal, at this point, is to create interest by using color and texture (threads, cheesecloth, hessian, whatever). I have become interested in Hundertwasser and am trying to create contrast between his colorful, meaningful style of homes and windows, etc. and the type of New York vision of Georgia O’Keefe……stark, almost monochromatic. This is ambitious for me, but I am using this to gain some kind of control over my free machine stitching and to develop a technique for layering. I am using tan linen and black stitching for the type of architecture Hundertwasser rejected and have yet to make decisions on what I will use to represent his style. All in the planning stage at this point.

  24. 24 Jane Davila February 2, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Interesting. I don’t know if my work fits into either of your two categories of fabric use. I tend to use near-solids or quiet prints purely for their color and/or visual texture and almost never for their particular print. I see and use fabric as “paint”, gathering colors and textures and never that I can remember using the imagery of the print itself in a deliberate or focal way. Hmmm…

    Where does Pam Rubert’s work fit into your categories? What about the people who dye or paint fabric for a specific piece? I think we need more categories.

  25. 25 June February 2, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Barbara, in a private email, has added further to what I wrote, saying that her background was in art but not in textiles, although she knew how to use a sewing machine (which I didn’t). She says, “My choice to use commercial fabric is based on the fact that I think it is exactly perfect to express myself with.”

    Now, what I really wish Barbara had done was to make her own comments here. She was perhaps the first person to see the post, for obvious reasons, and probably didn’t think to elaborate her ideas on the site itself.

    However, I’m encouraging everyone to get a feel for how this site works, and the best way to do it is to leap in and have your say. Maybe I can encourage Barbara, too 🙂

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