The "Off Kilter Quilter" Sets Off on a New Journey
I wanted to wait until I was fresh to do this, but I am feeling that "all familiar" hand on back nudging me towards the computer... so here it goes!
I have been a quilter for almost 7 years now! I was always into sewing, especially crochet in which I am self-taught and now advanced. Before quilting, it was mosaics.
I have always been into working with stone, marble and granite! I married my husband in July of 2000 and moved into his magnificent victorian mansion. I have been blessed beyond words that I could put my love of tiling and mosaics into this beautiful home. My first project with my husband Charles in this house was the kitchen. l designed and created a custom mosaic border for one wall in the kitchen. I loved how Charles had the confidence in me to allow me to do such a thing to his kitchen wall, so I really wanted to make him proud! The end result was that we were both so proud of each other and the project proved to be a beautiful experience for us as we really did work together through the majority of the work and the creative process. It was so positive that I couldn't wait to start our next project together. It really shouldn't have come as a surprise though. Charles and I became the best of friends on the job. Him as my boss at the newspaper, me as an employee, but we looked forward to working together. We worked side by side for 2 years and fell in love along the way!
We set about shopping for tile and came across a mosaic tapestry which was imported from Turkey. We also did extensive research in choosing a tin ceiling for the overhaul. During this time, I was making the border for the wall in the basement. I had cut all my little "chips" from 12 inch square marble tiles using a wet table saw. The entire tile wall including this border is made of marble. I had to cut and grind the pieces, and using mylar with my pattern underneath to lay them out and then glue the chips down. I learned how to do this by researching online, books and videos, the same way I learned how to quilt. But the end result on the kitchen was an enormous RELIEF! I always found myself thinking, "What if this happens?" or "What if that happens?" I can drive myself nuts for lack of confidence, so this was a real boost! The kitchen project in this beautifully restored victorian home was a HUGE success. I loved the process so much, that I ordered some new upgraded equipment and set off on a new mosaic project. I then began to get sick. I had developed a chronic cough. The cough was so bad, that people were complaining at the office. I had come to the sad conclusion that I couldn't work with stone safely anymore. I did manage to get the majority of one more small project done and will someday finish it off in better ventilated conditions like "OUTSIDE"... Charles and I know right where we would like to use it.
So I went back to crochet... But one day, I was walking through Walmart (of all the places) and I stumbled across their fabric department. At that time, they had some of the most beautiful fabric I had ever seen and I wasn't a quilt shop shopper at that time. I was so attracted to this fabric as it reminded me of stained glass. My husband and I have bought many stained glass lamps, either online or out on antique shopping adventures. We both love stained glass. I laugh now because the sales associate in Walmart must have thought I was completely off my rocker. I think I spent several hours in the fabric department that day! The wheels were turning!!
I had found a replacement for stone and marble and I set out to see what other types of fabrics were on the shelves. This fabric truly changed me. I replaced the stone and marble with batiks and marbled fabrics. I use the fabric in quilts, but my favorite way to use them are in the fabric stained glass pieces I make. They are completely and permanently fused. The fabric from Walmart (which isn't sold in Walmart anymore so thankfully, I bought a lot of it when I did) allows the light to come through. I found this out by accident after making a stained glass piece, that when it was held up to the light, it glowed just like real stained glass glows when the lights are turned on. I couldn't believe my eyes! I almost felt like I could hear the angels rejoicing "Hallejuah"!!! hehehe (true story by the way)!
Anyways, fabric, especially batiks and marbles and Northcott's Stonehenge line, have become an obsession of sorts, along with my sewing machines and accessories. My background in graphic design has been a useful resource in designing custom patterns and sizing, printing and piecing the patterns together in both quilting and mosaics. Having discovered the fabrics and being able to work with it, much like I did with stone, I didn't miss making mosaics. I knew cotton fabrics were NOT going to make me sick and I ended up liking the feel of fabric over stone. "Fabrics rule, stones drool." That's my new personal motto!
I have been inspired by so many great quilters and have had so much fun learning the process over the last 7 years that I could never turn back from it. It is totally and completely addicting. I have so many things that I have done through the years of my life that I can effectively apply to the quilting process. My graph paper designs and my doodling are prime examples. I have doodled almost as long as I could hold a pencil and my graph paper designs I started as a young teenager.
The graph paper designs are intricate patterns and every drawing is different and unique. My high school art teacher told me that I should be designing floor tiles or wallpaper when I was 16! I never dreamed that I would be trying to make quilts from my designs. I started a quilt from one of my drawings as an ambitious project when I was just learning how to piece. Needless to say, I wasn't happy with how it was turning out because my points and lines were not matching up perfectly. It's been a UFO for the last 5 - 6 years. I recently worked up the courage to take it to the local quilt shop and asked the owners there what they thought of it and they enthusiastically told me to FINISH IT! This is a goal for me. I have somehow along the way, become such a perfectionist, that I was unable to finish the quilt, even after all these years and all these other quilt and fabric pieces later. I WILL FINISH THE GRAPH PAPER QUILT. I know it won't win any awards, but if I finish the quilt, then I will feel much like I did when the kitchen was finally completed.
I have had a lot of encouragement and words of praise from so many of you out there and I can't thank you enough. My hope is that I will finish this quilt and keep creating and working on new pieces and sharing the love of the process and ideas as many other great quilters and artists out there have inspired and shared with me. I hope to be able to give something back, keeping humble and teachable as I begin to teach others to do what I do. I am now teaching popular free motion quilt classes at my local quilt shop. My future says I will be bringing the classes to my home and mixing them with workshops.
Let me know what you think of the kitchen project.