Saturday A.M. Quilt Break: Thank You, Mellisa

Yesterday we here in the Golden, Colorado, office bade farewell to a longtime colleague, staff photographer Mellisa Karlin Mahoney. We’re not in the habit of blogging about the departures of coworkers, but Mellisa, well—she’s special.

Mellisa Karlin Mahoney

If you have perused any issue of Quiltmaker, McCall’s Quilting, McCall’s Quick Quilts, Quilters Newsletter or a few other of our quilting magazines published anytime in the past 25 years, you have seen Mellisa’s work. She was hired by Mary Leman Austin for Quilters Newsletter’s art department in 1989, back when pattern diagrams were all drawn by hand (some of you out there will remember what I’m talking about), and by 1992 she was credited in the masthead as the photographer.

Mellisa Karlin Mahoney

Mellisa Karlin Mahoney was included in this photo of Quilters Newsletter staff working on the Home Sweet Home quilt in honor of QN’s 20th anniversary in 1989 not long after she started working for the magazine; she is standing second from the left, next to QN’s founder Bonnie Leman.

There is an art and a craft to taking a good photograph of a quilt; any of you who have snapped pics of a quilt with your phone know that to be true. The first challenge is to photograph it straight on if you’re trying to get a full flat shot to avoid it looking like a trapezoid. The second challenge is controlling the lighting to show both the design of the quilt top and the texture created by the quilting. Whole-cloth quilts are particularly difficult to photograph well. Mellisa handled all quilts, from mini masterpieces to king-size bed quilts, with equal skill and artistry.

In addition to photographing hundreds (probably more like thousands) of quilts during her tenure, Mellisa brought a photographer’s keen eye and a quilter’s understanding of technique to many, many how-to photos and tutorials. If you’ve ever benefitted from the how-to photos in one of our magazines, that’s due in large part to Mellisa’s contribution.

Mellisa photographing quilts from above

Mellisa often climbed onto a stepladder to photograph tutorials from above, as she did when Valerie White came to the photo studio for a Quilters Newsletter surface design tutorial in 2016.

So that’s the part of Mellisa’s work, the end-product, that you might be familiar with. But what you wouldn’t be able to tell is how important she’s been to her coworkers over the years. Do you see those former Quilters Newsletter staff members in that photo above? Mellisa is still friends with quite a few of them in addition to even more people who’ve come and gone since then. She is simultaneously easy-going and extremely punctual, a professional photographer who enjoys finding the fun in her work. And she has fed us very well over the years, most notably her amazing fresh tomato salads that come straight from her prolific garden in late summer.

I could go on. Suffice it say, I’m gonna miss that gal, and I know many of my coworkers share that sentiment. I just wanted to let you all know about one of the simply fantastic human beings who has been instrumental behind the scenes in creating quality content for quilters over the years. We take our work seriously because we know you take your work seriously, and Mellisa has helped maintain a high standard to which dozens of editors and designers aspire. We can’t thank her enough for the legacy she’s leaving with us.

Leave a Reply