How fun to be part of all the guest bloggers this month! But oh my goodness, what to write? Beth and I are partners of the pattern company Lizzie B Cre8ive. We’ve been in the pattern biz for 3 years, but have been quilters, of course, for much much longer than that. The fun part about our partnership is that we are actually related!
Now when we’re together at shows people stop and look quizzically at our nametags, scratching their heads in puzzlement. Because both name tags say the exact same thing. Elizabeth Hawkins. What the nametags DON’T say is that even the middle names “Ann” are the same. Then they try to figure out how this could be. “Are you twins?” We’ve been asked. Which is always a question that was never quite thought out….seriously, what mother would name TWO kids the exact same name?
No, not twins, we explain. Sisters-in-law. Then comes the…”Do your husbands have the same name too?” question. Ummm…the same LAST names we reply! It may sound a bit complicated, but here’s what it boils down to….we’re married to brothers and we happened to bring with us into marriage the same first and middle names.
Pretty straight forward once you think it through, right? Well it took a few tries to explain it to the local government agency when applying for our partnership. We kept getting the papers back with a note saying, “You can’t be in a partnership with yourself.” Well, duh. As if we didn’t realize that?
Anyway, we got that all straightened out and then Beth went off to the bank to set up our business account, which seemed to go a bit more smoothly until the nice banker asked in what order we wanted the names to appear on the check? Beth wasn’t even sure WHAT to reply, so she told the nice man that he only had to write one name. “Oh no!” He insisted, “It’s a partnership, it has to have two names!” To which Beth replied, “Well then, I suppose you can put Elizabeth Hawkins first, and then Elizabeth Hawkins second as well.” Poor man, he finally caught on after that. Luckily, I’ve always been known as Liz and Beth has always been called Beth, so at least WE know who we are. But we’ll both admit, it’s kinda fun to only have ONE name printed on our business cards!
To make matters even more complicated….Beth lives in Tucson, Arizona and I live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thank heavens for technology nowadays or this partnership could never have been born. We’re often asked how in the world we get things done living so far away. Well, we’d both LOVE to live near each other and cannot understand why our husbands can’t work it out so this can be. (Although, we’d each probably weigh 500 pounds if we did because we tend to eat a fair amount of ice cream and chocolate when we’re together designing quilts! There must be studies out there somewhere verifying that this is truly how one must feed the creative mind….). But until the day when we can live down the street from one another, we make do with lots and lots of daily emails, scanners, video chat and our favorite piece of technology, our iPhones!
Not only do we talk to each other with them, but we snap pictures of things that might spark an idea and send them to each other, or keep up a running text conversation while doing the many other things we do throughout the day while not in front of the computer. Our phones also happen to carry the playlists that inspire us when we’re in a rut. (I know, we should do a commercial for Apple!). We also try to plan family vacations around the time when we need to be designing. Spring break is always a great time for my family to fly out west and warm up from the chilly east coast. Summers bring Beth this way to the steaming humidity, and Thanksgiving is a great time to be together, because then we can blame the extra poundage on the holidays and not each other!
Recently, I was at a speaking engagement for a local guild. I had a trunk show of most of our quilts spread out across a long line of tables, nearly 40 quilts and handbags in all. Afterward, a quilter came up to me and asked, incredulously, if we’d made ALL those quilts in just 3 years. It’s at times like this when I look down along a table full of color and texture that make me realize how far we’ve come since we began and how grateful I am to be part of this wonderful world of quilters.
I can hardly describe the kind of joy I feel each time we finish a quilt. To go from an idea that was in my head, to a piece of paper, to Beth’s mathematical calculations and come out a beautiful creation, is absolutely amazing.
Years ago, I was living in France and met an American woman who happened to be a quilter. She was also a quilt designer and I remember looking at her complicated instructions and all the MATH that was involved and thinking to myself, “clearly, this is something I could never do!” Well all I can say to those of you who have thought the same is…NEVER SAY NEVER! How many times have we heard that in life? If someone asked me to hike up a difficult mountain, I’d probably do it with very little hesitation; ask me to sign up for a local triathlon, I’d do the same, though I am by no means a seasoned hiker or tri-athlete. Plop a mathematical equation in front of me and I’d say, “forget it” without a second thought. I have just never been a numbers person.
Thank goodness Beth is! So when Beth suggested we design quilts, I was a little scared remembering the amount of math involved. But she assured me that she could do the math, all I had to do was draw. Talk about HEAVEN for the artist!!! So now we even share a brain….her left side with my right side make the perfect match. We feel extremely lucky to have one another. When we started out our friends worried that we’d run out of ideas….40 quilts later, clearly, that is not the case!
We’re often asked where we find our inspiration. First of all, Beth and I both love appliqué. Which we lovingly call “apPLEAK” now. Our printer once called up to let us know that our “apPleak” patterns were printed and ready to be picked up. He sounded so proud that he’d figured out how to pronounce the word that we didn’t have the heart to correct him, plus we loved our own little private joke so it has sort of stuck!
Anyway, we are busy moms with 4 kids each. We need to be able to take our quilting with us wherever we go, so many of our designs are geared toward appliqué. I love the freedom of design that it gives a quilt, it’s not confined to certain lines or angles. So we tend to look around us at the things that we love, things that make us smile or just brighten up our day. We often embroider inspiring words into our quilts…what could be better when you’re down than wrapping up in a comfy quilt filled with words to lift your spirits? (And some Godiva truffles on the side perhaps….). We’ll admit, our first quilt together was actually full of chocolate! But nature is also full of beauty that we’re always sure to find something there to inspire, just going for a walk, a leisurely ride, taking in the bright yellow flowers against the blue, blue sky. We love searching for fabrics that convey the exact feel we want for each quilt.
I had an art teacher in high school that made a big impression on me. It was my senior year and I hadn’t taken an art class since junior high when I encountered a teacher who told me I’d painted my clouds wrong on a particular painting I was actually pretty proud of. After that I figured I wasn’t cut out to be an artist, I mean, who can’t paint a white fluffy cloud? But I needed one more elective in my senior year and ended up in an art room.
The teacher was wonderful! She opened up a whole new world for me. We explored many mediums and she believed in us, entering our works into local shows all semester. She impacted my life SO much I went home and told my mom I was going to be an artist! (Of course my mom was appalled, she’d been carting me around to music lessons since I was 8, in her mind I was a musician).
After many years living abroad we ended up moving back to my hometown, enrolling my kids in the very same schools I went to. They were talking about their art teacher one day and their description jogged the memory of my high school teacher. Could it be her? It was, the very same. I was so excited to have found her again! I’d thought many times since high school that she deserved a huge note of thanks for letting me paint clouds the way I saw them. So I sent her a little email with our web address and told her thank you for inspiring a young mind when she did (how many teachers really get the thanks they deserve???). The next thing I know, the phone is ringing and it’s my art teacher weeping tears of joy. She was so happy that I’d found her again and was pleased how I’d ended up utilizing my talents. She loved our quilts and called them “works of art in fabric”. Which is exactly what every quilt is, isn’t it?
Leave a comment on this blog post. What inspires your creativity? We’ll choose a lucky random winner on March 3rd to receive a mystery pack from us.
If there’s a word of advice at all that the Lizzie B girls would like to spread it’s: BE CREATIVE! Always! Use a new patch of color you’ve never used before, try a combination you’ve never tried, think outside the quilt block and put together the quilt the way YOU want to put it together. Never say never when you think you can’t accomplish a thing. And above all, paint the clouds the way YOU see them.