I think we are fortunate to live in a culture that encourages lifelong learning. As an avid art quilter who wants to master every technique possible but still have time to pursue other time-consuming interests (like family hikes, reading, gardening, and travel) I have to prioritize. Don’t get me wrong; quilting usually comes first, but there is a limit to the number of resources I can devote to my craft. And by resources, I mean more than just the obvious: my time is precious; my pocketbook is not bottomless; and my kids need me to stay close by, making travel a luxury.
So how can I feed the need to broaden my understanding of art quilting techniques while dealing with those limited resources? Read on for my suggestions to do just that, all without leaving home.
1. Keep Good Company:
Find a local group of like-minded art quilters and create a supportive environment for creating, showing, and sharing your work. This is by far the best way to keep your passion alive. My art quilt group has a wealth of knowledge and supports its members with a limitless level of patience. I look at it like a college study group with the benefit of home-made coffee and creative critique. Lynn Krawczyk wrote a great short series of articles about this topic, starting in the February/March 2012 issue of Quilting Arts.
2. Start a Lending Library:
After you’ve found your art quilting “tribe” make an inventory of the print and video content you all own. An easy way to do that is to create a shared online document and ask your art quilt pals to list the books and videos they would be willing to lend. Work out a system for “checking out” the materials and before you know it, you all will have access to these pearls of wisdom.
3. Find a Mentor:
Does one of your quilt tribe specialize in color theory? Is another a master of machine quilting? You may need to look no further than your own back yard to find a mentor who can help you expand your abilities and hone your skills. Use the resources around you to fill in the gaps in your own knowledge. Keep in mind that you (yes you!) might be the resident expert on a topic!
4. Prioritize Your Goals:
Setting a few goals, especially this time of year, is a great way to make sure you learn what you really want to learn. Identify the skill sets you want to improve, then work on a roadmap to get you there. Make sure that if one goal is dependent on another, you achieve them in order.
5. Explore a New Platform:
Sometimes I have to make hard choices – like saying “no” to taking an in-person workshop with a great teacher because my weekend has been booked months in advance. But there are other options! Have you looked into online learning as an option for exploring specific skill sets and techniques? Digital video workshops such as those offered in the Ultimate Art Quilting Workshop Collection experts are comprehensive lessons designed to help you move your skills to the next level. I might not have the time to travel to a week-long workshop, but I do have the time to watch and learn from award-winning quilters like Lea McComas and Grace Erea in the comfort of my home studio.
Life is full of opportunities to learn and grow. I hope you enjoy the challenges of being a lifelong learner and grow your skillsets as you expand your mind. Check out the online video workshops available exclusively on our website, and don’t miss the opportunity to learn with art quilting luminaries such as Lea McComas, Grace Errea, and more! And while you’re at it, keep your Quilting Arts subscription up to date so you never miss a new and exciting technique you can explore with those new-found quilting friends!
Vivika Hansen DeNegre