My sewing training started when I was old enough to hold a needle. I made my first garment, a hand-sewn blouse, when I was eight and went on to make skirts, dresses and even suits for myself. In my teens I dreamed of becoming a famous fashion designer but chose a career in publishing instead. It was a short-lived career at any rate; I was soon a stay-at-home parent raising a large family. In my spare time I took art classes -- painting, color and composition -- and looked for a way to express myself.
I forget when I first came across the picture of a traditional American quilt on a magazine cover, but I remember the impact it had on me. I couldn’t wait to see more - Amish quilts, scrap quilts, block patterns. From the books and magazines I collected I taught myself to quilt. I owe much to the excellent books of Ruth McDowell, Deirdre Amsden and Libby Lehman.
Quilting became my obsession and passion. Soon I was devoting all my working hours to it. I'm lucky enough to share a studio with my husband, who is also a quilter. I have the benefit of his instant feedback on my work and a colleague ready to offer advice and support.
My work has been sold, widely exhibited, and featured in publications. A highlight came the day my quilt, “The Time Is Now,“ received the Shigeo Hukuda Award in the 6th Quilt Nihon Exhibition in Japan. We decided to go to Japan to get it. We brought back not only the plaque but memories of the wonderful awards ceremony, the warm and welcoming Japanese, and the beauty of the landscape.
An art quilt explores and expresses timeless aesthetic principles -- color relationships, spatial organization, compositional balance. Yet in craft and workmanship it hearkens back to the traditional folk art quilt where it finds its roots. I choose to work in fabric because no other medium would express my intention. I find photography too slick, and painting eliminates the textures that are important to me.
There is something warm and inviting about fabric. We handle it daily, a familiar substance as we dress. The fabric of an art quilt is something we can immediately connect with. It invites us in to appreciate the design.
When I get an idea for a quilt it comes to me as an invitation to explore. I like to impose limitations on myself, allowing only certain colors or special types of fabric, and within these limits I play. How far can my imagination reach? How many variations can I design? Surprisingly, these self-imposed limits spur my creativity rather than dampen it. I'm challenged to be more inventive and search harder for solutions.
The design phase is my favorite part of the process. I take a child's joy in making the picture, giving no thought to the technical difficulties that may come later when I render it in cloth. All of my quilts are machine pieced and quilted. I enjoy doing hand embroidery and all sorts of embellishment.
Some of my pieces are never finished, even years after I've declared them done. I've been known to take them off the wall and add elements that improve them.