Years ago, way back in the 90s, I was making art quilts for show. I had a lot of inspiration, imagination and I had an amazing source of quilt fabrics from which to choose. I even traveled from St. Clair Shores to Ann Arbor at least every other month to glean fabrics from my absolute favorite quilt shop that carried unusual fabrics, things I couldn’t find near home.
I made quilts, I sent off images, applied for juried shows and I was basically miserable. One word, miserable. I did participate in shows run by my quilt mentor, Merry J. Silber. She was amazingly positive and helped me feel that what I was doing had a point.
In 1998 I finished with shows. Merry retired and we had decided to move out of the area. Although it would be some time before we actually moved, the concept was there and in my mind, I had moved on already.
My quilt shop owner friend, having a mouth that would not stop, told me that my work wasn’t recognizable as mine, that I didn’t have a hook or a theme – that she couldn’t look at them and see that I’d made them. They were not cohesive. Merry said she could, but she was a sweetie.
I went back to quilting in 2007 when we moved to Maine and at first I made bed quilts. Recently I started doing concept quilts again. And I was still bothered by the comment that my quilts weren’t recognizable as mine. Hmm. I decided to make my work cohesive, even though I didn’t know how to do this. I mean really, I’m inspired to do something because I want to see it, not because it looks like every other piece I’ve ever made.
And then, I began to dye my fabrics again. This was something I’d started in the 80s and enjoyed it. At that time, I dyed solid or semi-solid colors and used them in my work. Now there are new techniques, new ways of dyeing fabrics that set them way apart from solids.
And all of a sudden, without even trying, my quilts are recognizable as MY quilts – amazing.