Author to Turkish Delights to Appliqué, Bended Bias Appliqué and Quilted Fairie Tales.
Thanks Michele for having me as Guest Blogger this month, it’s such an honor, and a warm welcome to all the bloggers out there for taking the time to read about a slightly compulsive little girl turned professional quilter by chance!
As a little one, my parents needed to keep me busy. I wanted to know everything. Why can’t fish walk? Why can’t we have pizza every day? Why can’t I have my own pair of scissors like mom and Nona (Italian for grandmother) have?
I am a first generation American, my dad is from Northern Germany and my mom’s heritage is Northern Italian. Luckily, my Italian Nona lived with my family and I received some of the best projects to do from her. I was given those scissors I so dearly wanted at age 4, along with floss, needles and fabric marked with those big X’s on them to embroider. Remember those pillow cases and hand towels? I breezed through the embroidery and weaved little crooked potholders everyone got for Christmas. Next I was taught knitting and crocheting and anything else that required occupying my time. I was eager to learn!
But the time spent with my Nona at her Singer treadle machine were pure bliss for me. Nona mended sheets as I sat on the floor making the treadle move up and down. Hmmm….nonni was a smart lady! But then I graduated to sitting on her lap and push the fabric under the needle. I was hooked. I could take two pieces, sew them together and make stuff…wow!
Fast forward a few years…..I loved cutting stuff apart, magazines, paper dolls, pictures, books (oops), anything I could get my hands on. I now call it the beginning of collage scrapbooking in the late 60’s. Luckily, my parents encouraged anything I did artistically. I come from a long line of multi generations of artists. My paternal grandmother (Oma in German) was a poet, sculptress, doll maker and weaver. My paternal grandfather was a professor of the arts who studied with Picasso in France and together they hiked the Dolomite Mountains sketching the beauty they saw. Opa was an amazing impressionist artist who oil painted many famous people and places in Germany, Italy and Denmark. Together they had a weaving studio on their property, worked on stained glass windows for churches, sculpted beautiful figures and wrote poetry. My most prized possession was one of the last oil painting brushes my grandfather used. They truly lived the lives of an artist. My father continued the artist’s lineage. He is a silversmith for Tiffany & Co, expertly transforming a single piece of silver into things we know; The super bowl trophy, Kennedy’s Profile and Courage Award, The Breeder’s Trophy to name a few.
It wasn’t till many years later, in my later 20’s that quilting caught my attention. I was consumed. I couldn’t have enough fabric, or scissors.
I moved from Northern New Jersey to be closer to my parents who now lived in NE Pennsylvania. Mom and I heard a quilt guild just formed, so we joined. It was nice that I got to share my passion of quilting with mom. She had no idea how quickly she would be bitten by that quilt bug. I became very active in my guild, The Milford Valley Quilters Guild, holding just about every office, except for treasurer. Luckily, being of European heritage, I traveled to Europe quite often to see family and one year mom and I went to Quilt Expo in Austria. I befriended many quilters from many nations and became good friends with a gal from Turkey, Gunsu. We sent each other letters by mail then, the Internet was just starting to catch on amongst quilters. We arranged to have an American-Turkish exhibit between my guild and hers. It was a hit. Newspapers and Quilt magazines published stories about it. Gunsu came to America to see the exhibit at my guild’s quilt show. A few months later, I received a letter from the Turkish Minister of Culture inviting me to represent America, one of the eleven nations invited to teach at their first quilt show in Turkey. I fell in love with Turkish art. I loved it so much, that I returned there two more times to teach and study the art.
I began designing appliqué patterns from the inspirations I saw and submitted a book proposal to AQS (American Quilters Society). It was accepted two weeks later, and my professional quilting career began. The books was named "Turkish Delights to Appliqué", a book I am immensely proud of, which is now on CD.
I am inspired by everywhere I go. I look for the small things, the things that most people don’t look at. While teaching in Modena Italy, for Quilt Italia, I was walking the streets in Milan and saw beautiful iron scroll worked balconies. I drew the pattern up and became fascinated with bias tape. Fascinated so much that I wrote a second book titled "Bended Bias Appliqué" that shows how easy bias tape can enhance your appliqué or pieced quilts without looking like stained glass.
That little child in me still lives. She is my muse. I am told that I have the face of an angel but the personality of harmless, fun mischievousness…. I have a huge grin on my face! When I was younger, I eagerly devoured books. Nancy Drew, the Encyclopedia (yep, you read right), and that big book of Grimm’s fairy tales. My curious nature wanted to know "Why would a big egg sit on a wall if it knew it could fall and get cracked", or " Why oh why would little Jack Horner stick his thumb in a Christmas Pie and say what a good boy am I?" If I did that, my mom would have a whole lot to say and it wouldn’t be anything about being a good girl! And that is how my third book "Quilted Fairie Tales" was written, and quilts designed for it. It was my quest to write my own Fairie tales. I love to write with a passion and what better way to blend the two? Did you know that there is a very special fairie that comes to the forest only once a year to give all lady bugs their spots? Also, a fairie whose job is to tippy toe on the crescent moon to keep it balanced. Just a few of the appliquéd fairies and their stories from Quilted Fairie Tales!
I am so blessed to have stumbled upon a career of educating quilters through classes and lecturers. I get to travel around the world, meet the most interesting people and take some of the most amazing pictures, another passion of mine. My classes are contagious to humor and laughter. I believe that my job as a quilt educator is to motivate and encourage quilters. My method of appliqué is freezer paper and glue stick and I guarantee that everyone who takes a class from me, goes home an Appliquer! Workshops are always light hearted, and friendships are formed before class lets out. I believe in a positive attitude that you can do this, you can appliqué; you just need to be patiently taught…laughter included!
Give-Aways and a Bonus
Drum roll please…Win an autographed copy of Quilted Fairie Tales by posting a comment here. Include in your comment how many pairs of scissors you think I own. March 1st I will post a picture of my scissors on my blog and announce a winner.
Double drum roll… Win an autographed copy of Bended Bias Appliqué by posting a comment that you read my article here and take a guess at how many pincushions I own. On March 1st, I will post a picture of the pincushions and announce a winner.
BIG BONUS… Email me that you read my Guest Blog and receive 15% off Quilted Fairie Tales and/or Bended Bias to Appliqué. (Autographed of course) US residents add $2.00 per book for media mail shipping. Out of country residents will get an email back on how much shipping will be. I accept PayPal, or check.
I hope that our paths cross, perhaps at a quilt show, a quilt shop, or at your own guild where I will be teaching and lecturing. If your guild is looking for a workshop/lecture, I’d be honored if you suggested my name. It’s all about word of mouth, and the quilts. Oh yes! The quilts I bring are plentiful!!!
If we meet, be sure to tell me you read my guest host blog….a hug is inevitable!