Today's guest blogger for the Quilter Blogswap is Maria at Quilting Oneness
I don't think I'd ever crossed paths with Maria before, but looking at her work, I'll definitely be keeping an eye on her in the future!
How did you come to be a quilter?
I first got interested in quilting about 20 years ago when I saw in a textile art magazine a beautiful old English quilt made entirely of hexagons - I wanted to make something similar myself. I never did, but I got completely hooked on English Paper Piecing for quite a while. Then my life started changing a lot, and although I always had something textile to work on, for many years there was no specific direction to what I was doing. In summer last year a new path began to appear and I experimented with textile mosaic, that is pieces of fabric wedged into polystyrene board. This allowed me to combine fabrics - layered silks, viscose, cotton, polyester, brocade with metal threads, polyester velvet,... - in a way that would not have been possible if I had tried to sew these pieces together.
I was fascinated by the process, I love the outcomes, but still I wasn't a hundred percent satisfied. These mosaics lack the advantage of textiles over for example paintings: textiles are flexible, mobile and multi-purpose. We can wear them and use them daily and carry our textile art around with us. A by-the-way comment of a friend a few months ago made me reconsider patchwork and quilting, and during these past months I realised that there's a huge unexplored terrain for me.
What is it that you love about being a quilter?
That I'm part of a worldwide community which I regard as a great model for a society based on mutual support, kindness and sharing, cooperating freely and with generosity - while having a lot of fun. :) Quilting itself is about resourcefulness and repurposing, about uniting different layers with different functions in a way that is beautiful and useful, where every single piece of the puzzle is important and respected and valued - as it is and for what it is - and contributes its uniqueness to a new whole. It's more than just a symbol, it's a practical application of Oneness.
What are you most proud of from your quilting experience?
That I started blogging about it - although I'm in some regards a beginner and despite all those wonderful and awesome blogs that already exist - and also that, despite the just as overwhelming variety of patterns and techniques, I'm holding on to my belief that I can add something new to this mix.
What’s the one piece of advice about quilting that all new quilters should know?
Take your time and enjoy the process :)
Who’s the quilter(s) that inspire you at the moment?
Too many to name, at any given moment...
What quilting challenges would you like to conquer in the next 12 months?
I know that I have phases when I don't feel like stitching, or don't feel like pausing and writing or taking the time to document what I do, or sometimes don't feel like communicating at all for a few days. My challenge is therefore to use 2015 for finding how I can blog and be productive with some consistency but while still respecting my inner rhythm, that is for developing a flexible navigation system with lots of space for spontaneity and improvisation, detours and retreats instead of forcing myself once again into the usual gridlock type schedule of should's and no-can-do's and deadlines. Creativity is like flying, and one of the three basic requirements of flying happens to be that I take my feet off the ground. ;) (Number two is having a sense of direction, and the last one is flapping my wings until I get into a thermal I can ride ... just in case you're interested.)
What’s your 3 favourite quilts that you’ve made that reflect who you are as a quilter?
- - - I think every quilt I make/made reflects who I am/was at a certain stage, therefore every quilt is my favourite. Sorry I can’t show you the first ones, at the time I didn't think about taking photos of them before giving them away as presents. - Looking back all the way until now, I think I'd describe what I did and still try to achieve as "Merging Scandinavian Simplicity with Oriental Abundance". It's a lifestyle, really, reflecting myself.
If you weren’t a quilter, what other creative endeavour would you like to master?
Writing fiction, playing flute or bass guitar or both.
What is your favourite kind of pie?
The magpie ;) - I think they’re very beautiful, elegant and intelligent pies.
What holidays, traditions or religious occasions do you celebrate in your family at this time of year?
My partner and I love giving each other hand-crafted presents, and then watching the other’s face while opening them :) He’s English, I’m German, so we have our presents on Christmas Eve (German tradition) and English roast dinner on Christmas Day – our dogs get a Yorkshire pudding each, and believe me, they know it! As we live in Greece we phone or go online to connect with "the kids" and other distant family members. Apart from these celebrations and get-togethers, the solstice itself is very important to me as it signifies new life, a new start, new fresh energies – enough to carry me all the way through winter into spring.
Do you listen to music, watch television or prefer the hum of the sewing machine when you sew?
I love hand stitching, and whenever I can I go and sit outside. I love the sounds of a breeze, birds, bees, sheep bells, and I don’t mind the occasional dogs barking, scooters revving past, people shouting in the distance; I accept them as part of the scenery. Typically I switch on my sewing machine to block out sounds that I find more difficult to deal with, especially constant mind-chatter. At the moment it’s olive harvesting time here in Greece, and I much prefer the rhythmic rattle of my machine (it doesn't do hum) to the sound of air compressors... I find it very soothing, especially when free motion quilting where I rely on the sound for coordinating my hand movements and keeping the stitches even. Else I don't mind gentle or uplifting music, as long as it stays in the background.
What are your favourite types of blog posts to read?
My favourite flavours are Informative, Inspiring, Resourceful and Out-of-the-Box.
How important to you is learning a craft? How do you think we can keep the craft alive?
There are so many and different benefits to learning a craft - any craft or skill! - that I find it difficult even to sum them up or categorise them. What I can say is that learning a craft influences many other life areas as well, from stretching yourself over acknowledging your potential and being amazed by what you can do to making new friends. Creating and the process of learning something new gives a new sense of well-being way beyond perfect material results. As for keeping a craft alive: Add something of your own, of yourself. Once you've understood the very basics, keep your eyes open and see what others do - but don't just copy: Use what you learn by doing it your way, find your own version!
If you had to pick any designer to sit down and chat or work with for the day who would it be and why?
[sobbing] Only one designer and one day?? There are many I'd like to get to know as persons and find out what is the "reason behind" their work, what makes them tick, but also work with for experiencing different approaches regarding technique, design and process. Perhaps my number one at the moment is William Morris, whose designs reflected the great social change of the period during which he lived, in many ways similar to the one we're living in now.
What’s your favourite colour combination to work with and why?
I like experimenting with new combinations, for instance taking two or three colours that don't seem to go with each other and then figuring out how I can unite them. This, by the way, is something the textile mosaics taught me, simply because often I didn't quite have the piece of fabric I thought I wanted. A colour combination I often come back to is the turquoise/sky-blue range with white and gold or silver - it gives space and light - but I love rainbow and jewel colours or earthy neutrals just as much.
Do you have any quilting goals for 2015, what are they?
In 2015 I'm doing A Block a Month on my blog ... with a twist: I (probably) won't offer ready-made patterns until afterwards but instead I want to encourage my readers to design and make their own blocks by showing what I do, including the "ugly" bits of the process where things don't turn out as expected. I have the impression that many people who buy patterns for quilts believe that a designer is a genius who receives a perfect idea from out of the blue and turns it effortlessly and unerringly straight into a beautiful, workable pattern. And if or when they try the same thing themselves and meet obstacles, they think they're not good enough or don't have that certain genius gene and give up. - The goal for myself is to stretch myself, too, and to discover or "invent" each month new combinations of ideas and techniques, both by hand and by machine, to brush up and develop old skills and to learn new ones. I'll leave the details for my Muse to fill in...
Do you prewash your quilting fabrics?
Primarily I use reclaimed textiles, so new fabrics need to be washed (as hot as I dare to) if I want to combine them. I starch fabric only before I cut it and only as much of it as I'm going to use at a time.
What’s the best quilting tip you ever got?
Take your time and enjoy the process :)
Do you have any favourite tools that you love to use?
The quilting tools I bought 20 years ago have deteriorated over the course of time: The cutting mat has become brittle, the rotary cutter blade blunt and I never had a proper quilting ruler in the first place. Yes, I know that it's possible to buy new ones, and at some point I'll probably do, but I also believe in the validity of the Creative Limitations of Now: They lead me in directions I would not have discovered or explored if I had everything I wanted; for instance I would not have tried to cut hexies in stacks with sharp (!) scissors and discovered that it's actually easier than cutting single layers. Neither would I've found out that even on my old cutting mat I can cut one or two layers of fabric with a simple retractable knife (the trick is to keep the knife at a very small angle to the mat and to frequently break off a segment of the blade to refresh the tip) and that a cheap, large standard set of plastic rulers and triangles meets my requirements sufficiently. That said: If I wanted to get into making large quilts, I'd love a new cutting mat, a small and a large rotary cutter with spare blades, two or three different quilting rulers, and a variety of quality needles for my sewing machine ;) Did I mention a powerful, humming sewing machine with a wide arm, a flat sideways extension and a walking foot...?
What are you hoping the festive season will bring for you?
Feeling festive about myself, too: That I don't allow myself to be rushed around by any cultural "obligations" or limitations, and that instead I do allow myself and others to be as we are ... so we can enjoy each other's company as well as being who we are. I think this would be a great start into the New Year :)