My fiancé has convinced himself that I am not to be trusted when it comes to turning appliances off. Considering I once left the stove on long enough to burn the inside of a kettle to smithereens, he is absolutely justified. So, my track record for serious ineptitude got me thinking…what would I grab in case of a fire? I know the rule of thumb is to quick-like-a-bunny and get out of the house so hypothetically speaking, I would snatch the truly irreplaceable items: my jewelry and an embellished wool piece that my future mother-in-law made (don’t worry – when we have kids or puppies, they’ll move up that list, toot sweet). She started working on the masterpiece a few summers ago in a folk-art class with the incredibly talented Sue Spargo, who cleverly thought to embellish wool quilts with metallic threads, textured fabrics, and creative stitches. Sue is a fantastic teacher (I’ve got the inside scoop!) and travels extensively to share her eclectic creations with students all over the world. She is truly the epitome of do what you love and love what you do and I cannot wait to see how her business continues to grow.
P.S. I haven’t left the stove on for many moons. Ok, maybe it’s been a few weeks, but still.
Tell me a bit about your yourself & what sparked the idea to layer and embellish wool pieces. I began quilting when I was fifteen and loved to incorporate textural fabrics into my cotton quilts. About sixteen years ago, I completed my first wool quilt. This sparked my interest and I quickly fell in love with wool as a medium. I began to incorporate cottons, silks, linen and velvets into my wool quilts and became fascinated with the dimension and textural effects achieved when layering these fibers on wool. I began embellishing about six years ago and realized that the stitchery enhanced the depth of my pieces and really made my work come alive.
How have your travels influenced your work? What specific destinations have stuck with you? Is there a corner of the world you would still love to visit? Travel is the inspiration for many of my designs; I am intrigued by the vast cultural differences from around the globe. I am drawn to the simplicity of African folk-art and the colors that line the streets of Morocco. I would love to have the opportunity to travel to India and Japan. I imagine these places would offer immense inspiration and personal growth.
What is the design process like? How often do you create new patterns? I use a journal to sketch anything – an idea in my head or something I see in nature. I use these drawings as a starting point for a design, but begin by creating a textural background. I spontaneously build my pieces rather than planning them out, adding a pop of color or textural interest where needed. My final layer is embellishing, which I use to enhance specific areas and create visual appeal.
Two years ago, my future mother-in-law gifted me a piece with sixteen embellished leaves that she had started during your workshop in Sisters, Oregon. It is truly one of my most prized possessions. Why do you think people feel such a connection to the finished piece? I think each sampler is a piece of the person who created it. The finished piece does not come from a cookie cutter pattern; a lot of work goes into these and I see a lot of personal growth in my students as they take their own creative journey.
What is your favorite creative stitch? Why? The bullion knot – a fascinating stitch which can be used to outline or add textural filler depending on the size and type of thread used.
How has your business changed over the last five years and how do you think it might change in the next five years? Over the last five years my business has grown dramatically. I believe this is due in part to my innovative use of textural fabrics and embellishments, teaching all over the world, my eclectic website which offers an array of supportive products and all of my students and customers who are as excited as me about creating.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being an artist, maker & teacher? The growth of my students and their enthusiasm – they are the driving force behind my creative journey. Their excitement pushes me to continually grow creatively.
Guilty pleasure? Chocolate
Favorite way to unwind? Embellishing with needle and thread
Last book you read? Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Favorite place in the world? Africa
Cake or pie? Pie
Photograph 2 by John Doughty of Spy Photography © Material Obsession
Photograph 3 via American Patchwork & Quilting Magazine, June 2010
Photograph 5 courtesy of Sue Spargo via QUILTMANIA magazine © 2014, all rights reserved