Time for installment number ten of our celebration of Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge! For those of you just joining us, each day for twelve (business) days, we’re interviewing one of the talented quilt artists who contributed to the book. For more information on the book, click here. For more information on the Twelves, or to join them on their current group challenge, visit their website.
Location: Healdsburg, California
How do you describe your own quilting? Has being part of the Twelves group changed your perspective on your own work?
At this point, I’d describe my quilt style as “eclectic.” When I’m being hard on myself, I see my work as scattered and unfocused. But if I am more generous to myself, I know that I am experimenting with a lot of different techniques and I enjoy exploring the wide variety that quilting has to offer. It’s funny to me that I can see a strong cohesion in the works created by the other Twelves, but I don’t see it in my own work. Because quilting is truly all about enjoying the process for me, I am less concerned with trying to define a particular style than I am with having fun with whatever I’m doing. So maybe I’ll just continue in this “eclectic” vein! I can also say that seeing the first group of my challenge quilts together has made me view my quilts, for the first time, as a body of work. It has been very satisfying to see a collection of my work all together. Seeing a set of pieces made for a consistent purpose has caused me to think about what I want my work to be and what the work as a group shows about my fiber art.
You’re in the middle of the second group challenge, with a Colorplay theme. How did the first challenge affect the work you’ve done for the second one?
Each time I undertake a new challenge piece, I’m affected by all of the challenges that have come before. This process has been a very enlightening one on so many levels! I’ve learned a lot about the way I work, and where my comfort zones are. I have realized, for example, how I most immediately think of representational images rather than abstract ones. In these Colorplay challenges, I am trying to head in a more abstract direction. (I haven’t always ended up with an abstract piece, but at least now I’m thinking about it more!) I’m also getting more familiar with the 12 by 12 inch format – after this many quilts in that size, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?! I often want to do too much detail for that small size, and continue to learn that doing less in that space can be stronger.
Were you inspired to try a new technique that one of the Twelves used in their work? If so, which one?
Seeing the work the other Twelves do and hearing about how they do it has definitely caused me to try some new things! This has been one of the best aspects of this project, how wonderfully inspirational these women are. For example, Helen’s fearlessness and creativity in thinking outside of a flat quilt format inspired me to think 3-dimensionally when I made my “Color Counts” abacus for the Mathematics theme. I never would have thought to make a fiber abacus if I hadn’t been thinking about Helen’s structural pieces. Another example that comes to mind is how Terry Grant has talked of using photo and drawing software to digitally draw some of her imagery or design her quilts. When I wanted to make a book cover for my “Crime of Passion” quilt in the Passion challenge, I was reminded that I could use software to create a more realistic cover. In every challenge, I see my Twelve compatriots doing things I want to try one of these days. Brenda’s work with shibori, Karen’s deconstructed screen printing, Deborah’s amazing hand-stitched detail, Gerrie’s thermofax printing – these are just some of the things that excite me and make me want to jump in and experiment with these techniques.
If you could have changed one of your quilts from Twelve by Twelve, which one would it have been, and why?
There’s no question: I would have changed the piece I did for the theme Community, which was titled “All Together Now.” I liked the idea that I had in my head. I was thinking about how communities are a jumble of similar and different people and things, often created by happenstance, but still unified despite the differences. And I was trying to illustrate that unified jumble. I think I was a little too successful on the “jumble” part! I had drawn the square shapes and little lines with brown ink, and now I just don’t like the combination of colors against the brown. I tried to rescue the jumble by coloring circles in the background (can you see them?) But I still can’t tell whether it helps or adds to the chaos. I ultimately decided to submit this as my challenge piece because communities are often messy and not perfectly aesthetically pleasing. But still, this is the piece I like the least of all of my challenge contributions.
We heard there were “awards” given out to you all after the completion of the Theme series…what was your award?
I was given the “Most Colorful” award for using the most color in my quilts. And I was delighted that Karen bestowed this award on me, as I love color and it is frequently the starting point for my quilts. I suppose I locked in that award as soon as I made the multi-colored abacus! Terry Grant and I also share the “Separated at Birth” award), as we made quilts with surprisingly similar imagery in two out of the first twelve challenges. For the Identity theme, both of us used close-up fingerprint imagery (as did Gerrie). For the Illumination theme, Terry and I both worked with images of Asian lanterns. We’ve proven the “Separated at Birth” label even more true since then, too. In the Kilauea color challenge, we made both made quilts based on underground molten lava, with layered construction and flowing horizontal lines.
How was writing your portion of the book similar and different to blogging about the quilts as you made them?
When I write my blog posts about the challenge quilts, I consider myself as writing to the other Twelves, and it is easy to chatter on to them about what I did and why. I know that our Twelve by Twelve blog now has a wonderful following of friends and fans, but when we started blogging, we were writing primarily to and for each other. And while I am delighted at how many people follow our blog, I still see it first as something that is for us a group, and about our own growth and development and enjoyment. When I wrote my portion of the book, I knew I was writing to others, many of whom might not have seen our blog or website or heard about our challenge project before picking up the book. So it caused me to think about the Twelve by Twelve challenge and my focal piece in a somewhat new way. Writing my parts of the book was truly fun, knowing that we would be able to share our project with so many quilters. I was excited to be able to encourage others to find some like-minded quilters and try a challenge together.