Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Inspired by Challenges

Again, Wayne has asked some of us to explain what inspires us to make quilts. I will begin at the beginning.

The quilting bug zapped me in 1985 when I saw a landscape quilt on the cover of a McCalls Magazine. It depicted a Scottish hillside with golfers and being a clan member, I wanted to make it for my husband. I knew nothing about piecing, pressing, or making a quilt sandwich, but undaunted, I found the last piece of golfing fabric left in my city and it was just enough . . . I hoped.

I’d learned to sew as a teen, so that helped. I also worked as a commercial artist designing ads, logos, brochures, and so on, so that helped. I’d painted landscapes, animals, and other nature themes in oils and acrylics. I knew how to use a pencil and computer software. All those art experiences trained my eye to look for patterns, shapes, contrasts, things that otherwise might go unnoticed. However, this quilt was a challenge. It didn’t have a pattern, and it was too small.

The design was based on a 4" grid and the quilt had no border. Undaunted, I enlarged it to a 6" grid and designed a border. I drew and colored each block using CorelDraw. As I worked, I realized that it might be a good idea to make a few baby quilts and take some lessons, but after many months, I finished it as a queen-size. All the points matched (how did that happen?) and I quilted it on my domestic sewing machine for a gift to my golfing husband.

After that one, I made many using patterns that attracted me because of the geometry and color. However, I soon decided to never make the same pattern twice unless I could add variations. Then I started losing interest in using patterns, and even when I find one, it must be difficult or look impossible — at least for my skills.

All this being said, it seems that most quilts begin because of a challenge. It might come from a scene, or photo, someone else’s quilt, a painting, a design on cloth, a carpet, floor tiles, anything that has line, shape, color, rhythm, balance, repetition, or any other elements of good design. I look for that which captures and sustains my attention, something that whispers, “I dare you to make me into a quilt.”

Below are some of the challenges and the source of their inspiration.

My first queen-size, redesigned from a cover photo in a magazine. It looks better in real than in this over-exposed photo taken at a show.

Challenged to make this kit by Cynthia England because it has 7 million pieces and I'm crazy. LOL

Challenged to do something different than everyone else in Phil Beaver's class

Challenged to comfort a family and give them our love after their  daughter was murdered. She was blue-eyed, blond haired, and is dearly missed.

Challenged to use up a whole mess of pick fabric and quilt it on my new longarm. Sigh, it was hard.

Challenged to make a skinny landscape - and there will be more of these.

Challenged to use paint chip colors that begin with my initials and the art work of Bob Coonts (he gave permission) plus my love of horses... there will be more of these.

Challenged to put the Dear Jane border triangles into their own quilt, just so I could be called a "goddess" which isn't my thing anyway... but I do like foundation paper-piecing - good thing! Sorry for the fuzzy photo. This one is really crisp in two colors.

Challenged to do something different with a 36" mariner's compass. One blogging friend suggested a sunset and I heard the "I dare you..."  (this is the sketch, it is still being stitched, but getting there)

Challenged to make something precious for my precious sister to hang in her dining room

Challenged to make this mountain look real and the rocks and flowers too.

Challenged by my granddaughter to make a cherry tree that looks like a real cherry tree. After finally finding the fabrics, I used several photos, my own drawing, and the Ruth McDowell method to sew it together.

Challenged to make a large wall hanging for our church, so made this design prompted by one on a small Christmas card. Helped by friends, we used a new technique and made it in three panels.



Miss Hillbilly said...

You have made some very beautiful quilts. YOU are an inspiration of what I hope to quilt like someday!

jovaliquilts said...

An amazing group of quilts -- so much variety and so much beauty! You definitely rise to a challenge.