Birth of an Art Quilter

My quilting journey has taken a very surprising turn. I began quilting in 2010, in preparation for my retirement from teaching. I imagined that I would be a very traditional quilter. My mentor, Lisa Ellis, is an art quilter, but I never saw myself following in her footsteps. In my mind, she was something that I was not, an artist. Therein lies the surprise.

When the Quilt Alliance issued their TWENTY challenge in 2013, I thought ‘why not?’. So I set out to play with my fabric and made Seeing Our Stories Clearly with 20/20 Hindsight. I had so much fun making it. I began by having the eye chart fabric printed at Spoonflower. I fused the pieces to the background and machine appliqued them. I machine embroidered the eyes and small glasses. I enjoyed the hand beading and learning to use hotfix crystals. I entered my piece and was blown away to win a Judge’s Choice from Marianne Fons. That was a confidence builder!

I joined the planning committee for Sacred Threads 2013, which is an awesome fiber art show. The committee members were asked to make a small (18 x 18) quilt on the theme “Transitions”. All of the committee members were art quilters, except me, or so I thought! I had just been through the death of my mom and my father-in-law, moved into a condo, had three surgeries and had become an empty nester. So I made the game: That’s Life.

During Sacred Threads, I met Donna DeSoto and found out about the Fiber Beatles challenge. It was only 15 days from the deadline to hand in the quilts, but I decided to try to make one by the deadline. I was given the song, Rain. I really couldn’t start it until Sacred Threads ended. We took the show down on July 29 and the quilts were due on August fifth! Yikes! That was a real crunch, but I got it done and I’m so glad that I did. It ended up in Donna’s book, Inspired by the Beatles:An Art Quilt Challenge and it was in the International Quilt Festival in Houston, 2014.

So this baby art quilter began to look for other opportunities. To that end, I gave myself the gift of going to Focus on Fiber in New Smyrna Beach in March, 2014. Ten days to sew and create. I began my tree series there. One of which went into the Quilt Alliance “Inspired By” challenge. From left to right: Resurrection and Renewal.

Resurrection won a Members Choice award in the Quilt Alliance “Inspired By” challenge and was displayed at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, 2014.

I was becoming totally fascinated by textile art, so I attended the SAQA conference in Alexandria, VA in the spring of 2014. I met many fiber artists who were trained in art from college days.  I wondered if I had enough knowledge to really be an artist. I decided that I needed some creds. So I signed up at the community college for a Fundamentals of Design course.

I felt like a fish out of water in that art class, at first. But six weeks of instruction really made a difference in my capabilities. I went into class doubting that I could draw a convincing stick figure, and left class able to draw animals that drew rave reviews. I even did a little presentation on fiber art, which was a new field to most of my classmates. When Donna DeSoto’s  next challenge was announced, I was able to confidently volunteer to make a pronghorn. Unfortunately, I can’t post a picture as Inspired By the National Parks is also going to be a book as well as a collection.

The next challenge I undertook was by Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison, What’s for Dinner? The challenge was to make a 15″ x 24″ meal complete with place setting. I made the dinner that my mother always made on my birthday. It was chosen and was displayed at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2014 on a long table with 35 other artists’ pieces. t was such a fun exhibit, like having dinner at the quilt show.

Of course I had to go to Houston last year since I had three pieces in. It was such a thrill to see them there. It was a real dream come true.

I came home to a deadline, something fiber artists must get used to. The first of my National Parks quilts was due, the pronghorn. It was amazing to see many of the 177 quilts that will eventually comprise this collection. I was so thrilled to be a part of it. I could hardly tear myself away from the collection. I should have stayed a little longer. It turns out someone wanted to buy mine. I’m so thrilled.

I am thankful to be a fiber artist and confident in that description. I am looking forward to the journey ahead of me!

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One Response to “Birth of an Art Quilter”

  1. J Lee Bagan May 6, 2015 at 8:54 pm Permalink

    How brave you are, Delighted always to see others accomplish their goals as it gives me much needed inspiration towards attaining my own. Life does indeed get in the way of the inner crouching artist. I am slowly learning that interaction with others helps that creature bulldoze out into the open. My current rung in the ladder is the Fly Me To The Moon project and that is because of your efforts. Wishing you great success with the new website, looking forward to more!