I have an admission–I’ve been behind on reading blogs lately. Thus, I was delighted to find out about the Around the World Blog Hop (which I imagine all of you cool kids have already been following! :) from my friend and bee-mate Jan of The Colorful Fabriholic (you can see her post here. Check it out–she has a book coming out from AQS, and you’ll get to say you knew her blog beforehand!). Essentially, this is a self-perpetuating blog hop that encourages us to build community and get to know each other through blog posts and tagging. How could I say no to that?
To take part, I’m required to answer a couple of questions and post some pictures of my work. I apologize that many of these pictures will already be familiar to readers here–unfortunately the things I’m working on at this particular moment are all scheduled to be released in the future and I can’t reveal them just yet. Although I will gladly show you photos of my multiple in-process Sew-Together Bags if you really want to see what I’m working on in my free time :) Anyway, here we go:
What am I working on?
Well, in addition to the aforementioned Sew Together Bags (seriously addictive, people!) I have several quilts in various stages of completion. (That is, *besides* my 15+ WIPs, and no, I haven’t counted them lately.) These quilts are special though–I’m really excited about them, and can’t wait to work on them each day. One is a pattern-to-be for Oakshott Cottons, my go-to favorite for solid-look fabrics. I’m afraid I can’t say more about it until they reveal it, but suffice it to say, I’m in heaven working with their lovely fabrics. Another is a free-tutorial-to-be for Sizzix, which I’m hoping to get done in time for Market this fall. One of my constant challenges to myself is to try to use non-modern fabrics in modern compositions, and this one uses Proveçal-style fabrics from American Jane‘s Savonnerie line. The fabrics are totally French Provincial, and yet I’m thrilled with how the quilt top is turning out, and I think it will really appeal to other die cutters. Finally, I’m excited to be designing the Modern Quilt Guild‘s free pattern-of-the-month for November, and I’ve been working hard on both the quilt and formatting the pattern. I’m really excited about this one, and I hope that all of my fellow guild members will like it as much as I do! (Oh, and in addition to those, there might be another book project in the works, too….)
How does my work differ from others in it’s genre?
Well, if you define my genre as “modern quilting,” then my use of appliqué sets me apart, although it doesn’t make me unique. there are some amazing modern appliqué-ers out there (too many for me to list here), but I’m well aware that I’m in very, very good company among them.
If you define my genre as appliqué, this question becomes both a little easier and a little harder to answer. Traditional appliqué’s roots run deep, and art quilters have been using raw-edge appliqué to achieve stunning results for longer than I’ve been paying attention to quilting. I think that, even though my quilts have pictorial elements and use silhouettes of real objects, they have a minimalist quality that sets them apart from the art quilters who have come before me. At the same time, I think the fact that I draw my silhouette appliqués from photographs makes my quilts a little different, graphically, from some of the more abstracted and simplified forms that populate other functional appliqué quilts, traditional and modern alike. I love the combination of intricate, photo-realistic silhouettes with abundant negative and empty space and a sense of spare minimalism.
Why do I create what I do?
After the last couple questions, you’re probably hoping for a less wordy answer. And this one is easy: I create what I do because I have to.
OK, there’s a little more wordy explanation behind that. I spent a lot of time working towards a career that I thought I loved, but during all of that time, I couldn’t repress my drive to *make* things. Now that I’ve switched over and my career is literally centered on making things, I can’t help but feel incredibly fortunate and thankful that I’ve somehow arrived on this path.
How does my writing/creative process work?
I usually begin with a problem that I want to solve, and my designs usually feel to me like solutions. Sometimes that “problem” will be a fabric line that I want to use in a pattern which channels the spirit of the fabrics (what a lovely “problem” to have, right?). Sometimes the problem will be designing something to appeal to a particular end user, and sometimes the problem will be translating some piece of inspiration from the outside world into an appropriate project.
For example, for my forthcoming book, I was asked to create patterns that expressed a sense of three-dimensionality similar to my Onwards quilt, so that was the defining problem that the designs in the book needed to solve. To solve it, I used different ways of creating the illusion of depth, including one-point perspective for Grand Canal, and simple offset “shadows” for Ripples.
For my Name Wall Hanging for Windham Fabrics, which is a free pattern to promote Carolyn Gavin’s Petite Fleur collection of fabrics, my “problem” was to channel the look of the fabrics into a fun project that consumers would be inspired to make using the fabric line.
For my Patch’plique Pillow, featured in the summer 1014 issue of Stitch magazine, the problem was to find a collection of fabrics, available as mini charms, that matched the color story that the magazine asked me to adhere to and that would fit the theme of the appliqué on the pillow. (I settled on Vanessa Christenson‘s Color Me Happy line for Moda.)
I could go on and on, but essentially the process is always the same–I respond enthusiastically to a challenge. I’m pretty comfortable with my personal style and the techniques that I use to make my projects, which helps me because it gives me a set of tools and processes I can draw from. And if the needed tool and/or process isn’t one that I’m already familiar with, I’m always excited to do some research and learn a new technique to solve the problem that I’ve defined for myself.
And I think that’s the thing that keeps me motivated to create new projects. Each project, each set of materials or given technique or new request, demands it’s own individual solution. and it’s incredibly gratifying to finish a project that seems to fit as the perfect (for me) solution to its problem. And it’s also incredibly fascinating to see how other quilters and sewists come to different solutions for similar problems, which I think is one of the reasons that this community is so vibrant and inspiring. I’m grateful to Jan for inviting me to participate in this community in this way, and to think more about putting my working process into (many, many) words.
So now it’s my turn to tag some quilting friends to participate in the Blog Hop. I’m choosing Sarah Sharp of No Hats in the House. A fellow Oakshott devotee, Sarah is doing amazing work with paper piecing, and you will absolutely love her gemstone patterns. I’m also nominating my fellow STLMQG member and bee-mate Krista Robbins. Krista blogs at Sew What’s Cooking, and she just launched her pattern company, Four Robbins Designs, this year. I hope you’ll click over to their blogs and take a look at what they’re working on, and make sure to visit them next Monday, September 22, to read a little bit about their processes and styles!