Make Art A Habit: Jill Jensen’s 936 Weekly Quilts

Three of Jill Jensen's weekly quilts

Are you a creature of habit?

I am… and that goes for bad habits as well as good. I get up early every morning, but go to bed late. I eat lots of vegetables, but drink too much coffee. I park in the same spot at the grocery store (or I would inevitably not be able to find my car!) but always drive in the middle lane on the highway. Why do I do these things? Probably because I started doing them one day, and eventually they became habits, good and bad. It is human nature to continue on the same path and to do things out of habit rather than to change course. But we can use this trait to our advantage.

Take a moment to consider this: for the past 18 years, Jill Jensen has made a quilt every week. Each week between Sunday morning and midnight Saturday, she creates a small quilt from start to finish. Now that is dedication! Do the math: that is 936 quilts… and she is still working on this series. Jill’s body of work has been profoundly influenced by the ‘habit’ of creating these journal quilts.

Susan Brubaker Knapp with Jill Jensen on the set of Quilting Arts TV

Jill shared her experience with us on Quilting Arts TV Series 2200.

“In June 2001, I was web surfing and came across Jeanne Williamson’s website and her weekly quilt project. (Jeanne’s series ran from 1999-2005.) It reminded me of an artist that I knew who did a year of daily paintings. I realized that daily quilts would be too much so I adopted the idea of making small quilt every week. This has been a wonderful form of self-discipline.”

A selection of Jill's weekly quilts.

A few of Jill’s weekly quilts.

Her guidelines are simple:

  • Time frame: Weekly, Sunday through midnight Saturday
  • Size: The same size quilt every week for the entire year (size and shape changes year-to-year)
  •  Materials: If she starts on a piece of fabric, she must finish with that piece and not start over
  • Document: She journals on the back of the quilt as a record of the week
Pear shaped weekly art quilts from Jill's collection.

Pear shaped weekly art quilts from Jill’s collection.

Jill uses these quilts to experiment with color, printing, and recording major life events. Themes range from travel, to holidays, the loss of a loved one, and whatever pops into her head. “Originally, I only (made quilts in) geometric shapes, but then I went on to use other forms, including pears, birds, and fish.” What an amazing collection and incredible documentation of artistic growth over nearly two decades.

Art quilts shaped like quilts as part of Jill's weekly quilt series.

Art quilts shaped like quilts as part of Jill’s weekly quilt series.

Most importantly, Jill has used the series – and the habit of making art every week – as an exercise in self-discipline and a format for experimenting with color, technique, and style. They are part of her permanent collection, and have been exhibited in national juried art shows.

Jill is just one of 15 guests whose techniques, tips, and artistry are explored in the 2200 series of Quilting Arts TV. Check it out! Making art and exploring new ideas is a great habit to get into!

Best,

Explore more ideas with the help of Quilting Arts TV!

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