originally i had wanted to talk about this in an instagram livefeed video, but i decided in order for everyone to be able to get the info that might want it, i’d need to go a more permanent route. thus, this new blog linked to my shop and my social media. everything in one tidy package. (i haven’t blogged in quite a while, and the blog i kept previously was full of very personal writing – so instead of opening that all back up to the public, i’ve decided to start fresh to focus on whats going on here and now.)
and Right Now, that’s explaining my creative process, style, inspirations, the how’s and why’s, and happily making it all more accessible for those of you who have been asking for months about what i do. so, without further adieu…. i can’t promise that this post will teach you how to do what i do, it likely will not. this isn’t a tutorial. but i hope that you will take away perhaps a new way of seeing and appreciating the things around you, and maybe use that in the art that you make. what i do is no different than that of anyone who considers themselves an artist or a maker (i consider myself to be both) – we just all use different tools.
i get asked often how long i’ve been quilting. i learned when i was just a young kid (sometime around age 10) from my mom, helping out with baby quilts for cousins being born. so, i guess i’ve been quilting for maybe 25 years or so… technically i started this type of inspired quilting back in 2011, when i was inspired by my favorite band (Paramore). their music, style, colors, and designs all inspired me to make a couple of quilts based around them. they were mostly improv block quilts and a postage stamp quilt. i spent many years making and selling projects that i liked, using popular fabrics that i liked, following patterns that i liked. but after a while i realized i wanted more from my art. it often didn’t feel like mine, most of the time feeling like i was just trying to keep up with the “in” thing. i wanted to be creating pieces that felt more personal, more fluid, less structured, and more unique. i wanted my creative process to be one where i listened to myself. one of translation.
my current style of half-square triangle inspired goodness didn’t start until a couple of years later when i took my first trip to california in early 2014. i was newly single, living alone in a tiny one room apartment (much like i am now, just all the way across the country) back on the east coast. i visited some friends out in LA/joshua tree, and came home wanting some kind of outlet for the sights i’d seen, the feelings i had felt, and the words i was having a hard time expressing. right around that time i also decided i’d be moving to CA/AZ. so, this style of quilting has been a few years in the making for me. really i’m/it’s still evolving with every project.
i create inspired, intuitive, and original quilted projects that tell a story. so what does that mean? it means that with the help of fabric and color placement i abstractly recreate a specific moment in time. for me its often about recreating the landscape or culture of a place i’ve visited, a memory, a personality, an emotion, a photo, maybe someone else’s art. its a way for me to share these experiences and my story without pointing out details like names, dates, or things said.
i gather fabrics that speak to me to help set the scene and keep it all open to interpretation. they’re the language. i often use solids (kona cottons, me+you hand dyed solids, repurposed vintage sheets), batiks, hand dyed marbled + shibori fabrics (sourced from local businesses across the country), and just a handful of designer fabrics (recently: alison glass + me+you indah batiks + april rhodes). i find that most designer fabrics currently don’t help express the feeling i’m trying to get across, so while i find so many of them to be awesome i’m not really drawn to using them in my projects. its more about color and feeling, and less about print. i’d like to mention, though, there is no right or wrong way to do this: if designer prints are what You feel, love, and connect to – use them! its your voice and you get to use it however it feels right to you. its not an exact science and i fully believe no two people will do this the same way, there are no rules. i don’t worry so much about fabrics “matching” as long as they are telling the story i’m trying to tell.
and the only creating using half-square triangles thing? thats just my jam. it just feels good. it always has.
as far as placement of the colors/fabrics in my designs, that all depends on what i’m being inspired by. sometimes its literal to a photograph, other times its just what feels visually pleasing to me. i could easily make several projects inspired by the same thing and have them all look different from each other.
i do not create with the intention that anyone will necessarily see what i’m trying to recreate (but if they do, thats great!). i don’t expect anyone to be able to read my mind. but in the beginning i worried no one would “get it” or relate to what i was making… until i realized that the projects would take shape and meaning on their own. if the essence of something is there, someone will see and feel it and connect to it.
i see a lot of things in the world as i travel through it as quilts. a sunset, a sunrise, dusk, dawn, a long desert drive, the weaving of a conversation. i take note of what those things look like, what the colors and textures are, what they feel like (are they warm? cold? quiet?), did it feel light or heavy. sometimes i literally take notes (the notes app in my phone is full of ideas all the time). this doesn’t have to be emotional, simply an invitation to remember. the project then becomes an extension of the experience. i am incredibly lucky that i am surrounded by gorgeous desert landscapes almost at all times and that its within them that i feel most at home. digging down deeper, its within those landscapes that all the Stuff happens. sometimes i write or keep a journal, but most of the time i quilt. i don’t hide in the technicalities of the quilting itself, but moreso choose to lose myself in the heartspace that the projects open up for me. (i’m reminded here of the quote: “any activity done with love and presence is a spiritual practice.”)
the why: most often times, this is my therapy. its my passion mixed with my coping mechanism. but, i can think of worse ways to deal with what life throws at me. and i finally feel like i’m creating the projects i always wished for, knowing that somehow they were with me all along. it just took moving across the country, breakups, deaths, and the desert heat for them to find me. i always say that the projects create themselves, and i believe that fully. i cut the pieces and sew them together. but the movement that comes through them, that all comes from somewhere else.
my perspective is personal and i trust my instincts. this is the part of me that keeps me moving, that keeps my bad habits at bay. it keeps me in the mindset not of: what has happened To me (victimhood), but rather: what has happened For me (how can i turn a negative into a positive). those closest to me know that i am strangely complex – i am most comfortable in my car exploring alone, and yet i crave Home and Companionship. my medium of fabric and thread and batting may look like just quilts or pillows, but really they are emotional security blankets. ones where i can lay to rest all these tired and beautiful pieces of myself.
my best friend describes my work as “‘show me how it felt’ > ‘tell me how it went'”… which is a genius abbreviation of everything i just wrote above.