From the Editor
This morning, I got up at the usual time, switched off my alarm, and stumbled out of bed. After a trip to the gym and a cup of coffee, I showered and dressed. I chose my clothes the night before: Jeans. T-shirt. Striped socks. Clogs. It is an outfit I’ve worn dozens of times, and it never varies. Whenever I wear that particular shirt, I always pair it with the same socks, shoes, and jeans. Always. A good thing about being a creature of habit is that I don’t have to waste time choosing my wardrobe. But that also means I am less adventurous in my choices and relatively predictable. Woe is me if I lose one of those socks!
Most everyone has preferences and predilections, not only in their clothing choices but also in the colors they love and the fabrics they choose for their quilts. I’d venture to guess that the majority of quilters are drawn to certain shapes, colors, and textures, and repeat them again and again in their artwork. Sometimes, that exploration leads to expertise. I can think of many well-known pattern designers who use the same shape or technique over and over again, with amazing results. Drunkard’s Path, anyone? Repetition is one thing, and pushing the limits of a design or technique to create new combinations and amazing results is another.
This issue of Modern Patchwork explores how modern quilters boost their creativity in interesting ways: through exploration of form, color, and technique. I found Betsy Blodgett’s profile of artist Kim Eichler- Messmer fascinating. Kim, a trained engineer, found her calling in the manipulation of fabric, dye, and color. She pushes the limits of her craft by exploring landscapes, abstracting shapes, and creating beautiful fabric. She is experimental in the very best sense of the word and her artwork is more interesting because of creative exploration.
As someone who has been in a color rut for a while, Michelle Bartholomew’s encouragement to break out of my color “safe zone” was a real eye opener. Not only do I always wear the same T-shirt with the same pair of socks, I also realized I have a few holes in my fabric stash that reflect a love for magenta and the absence of yellow. In other words, my color rut extends from my wardrobe to my quilts. Michelle’s exercises are excellent starting points that will force me to pull different combinations of colors—and textures/values—when designing my next quilt.
Lastly, as we move into the warmer summer months, check out the collection of a dozen cool summer projects for your own quilting experimentation. In addition to larger quilts, you’ll find a few smaller projects that can be made in an afternoon. Who couldn’t use a fresh project like Lisa Ruble’s Accordion Place Mats to experiment with a new color palette? They are fresh and fun, and the results will be fabulous. I’m thinking of making them in yellow and magenta. Because although I am committed to adding a few new shades to my stash, I really love magenta!
Meet Kim Eichler-Messmer
“Kim Eichler-Messmer dips a cup into a five-gallon bucket filled with frothing indigo dye. The pigment saturates her skin, curving around fingernails, staining her hands in shades of blue, like an ombré Smurf. If the eyes are the windows to a soul, then Kim’s hands are a window into her day’s work.” Excerpted from the article by Betsy Blodgett
QuiltCon: A Movement Matures
“I’m one of the lucky ones. The fifth QuiltCon conference was held in Pasadena, California, this past February and I have attended each one. Lucky indeed. But not just fortunate to have been immersed in a sea of world-class modern quilts, exposed to cutting edge exhibits, or caught up in the exciting vibe of classes, lectures, and awards ceremonies at each of the shows. I feel like I’ve had a front row seat as the modern quilt movement has matured into a cultural event that has shaped the trajectory of the craft.” Excerpted from the article by Vivika Hansen DeNegre
Break Out of Your Color Rut
“If you’ve been quilting for a while, you might notice the same color combinations appearing over and over again in your projects. I’m definitely guilty of that—navy and aqua are my weakness—and having a signature palette is not a bad thing. But if you are feeling stuck in your work, perhaps it’s time to shake things up a bit and exercise your creativity in a new way.” Excerpted from the article by Michelle Bartholomew
Made Modern: On Taxonomy
“Taxonomy is a word often used in the scientific community to refer to a method of systematically classifying plants and animals. Some classifications are obvious, others are more subtle. The taxonomy of quilts, at times, can be an equally complicated thing.” Excerpted from the article by Thomas Knauer
Open Studio: Timna Tarr
“Tucked away in a quiet New England mill town, art quilter and longarmer Timna Tarr finally has the studio of her dreams. It is anchored with open shelves for storage at one end, and her longarm quilting machine at the other. Between are tables for cutting, ironing, and a couch for relaxing. And best of all, this open-concept space is bathed in lots of light.” Excerpted from the article
Stitch by Stitch: Set Up Your Studio for Success
“So, you’ve decided to buy a longarm quilting machine—yay, and welcome to the club! Longarm ownership is a major commitment—in dollars and studio space. Whether you plan to set up a longarm quilting business or to quilt for yourself, you will want your studio to be as comfortable and functional as possible. Here are a few tips to help you get set up so you can start experimenting and having fun quilting with your new machine.” Excerpted from the article by Timna Tarr