For every quilter, there’s a story to tell about how they began quilting, here’s mine…
My name is Mary Stori. I didn’t come from a family of quilters, as a matter of fact, the only sewing experience I had growing up was making that ‘token’ gathered skirt in Junior High. I recall thinking that the end result was ugly, homemade looking and definitely something I never wanted to do again. Time marched on and no one is more surprised than me that quilting has become my career, providing the opportunity to author seven books and a DVD.
Despite being a late bloomer, (this is my third career), I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world presenting workshops, lectures, and meeting wonderful folks everywhere. First I worked for an airline, next I developed a cooking school, but then back surgery necessitated a lifestyle change. My mother-in-law put a needle in my hand while I was recuperating. She wasn’t a quiltmaker, but had always sewed. Living in California, she was influenced by the wearable art movement in her area and began incorporating patchwork into her clothing. It was with her encouragement and help that I make my first little patchwork pillow.
Soon I began making small traditional patchwork quilts. Eventually I discovered the freedom of creating original work and I was hooked! It’s funny, my favorite part of cooking was the garnishing; I loved making those little tomato roses and butter curls. My favorite part of quilting is the embellishing. So now, instead of garnishing food, I embellish quilts! However, the reason I began embellishing was because I didn’t have the proper sewing skills to accomplish what my creative side designed. For instance, instead of taking the time to perfect hand appliquéing a uniform circle for the center of a flower, I’d use a button instead. Attaching found objects to my work provided the fun, funkiness, and personality that I found appealing. Over time, I’ve honed my skills, but I still choose to incorporate embellishments into my work because they help tell my quilt’s story.
"Fish Sticks" was a project I designed to teach on one of my Caribbean Quilting Cruises.
After living a lifetime in the Midwest, my husband and I recently moved to the mountains of North Carolina where the milder weather is an easier place to grow old! We found a home that suited us and where ‘the husband’ has a ‘man cave’ in the lowest level. Our main living space is on the middle level and my studio loft is on the third level. It measures thirty-two feet long by sixteen feet wide and at times I feel like I’m in a bowling alley. Happily, I have plenty of room to multi-task on different projects at one time.
The best thing about living in the Asheville, NC area is its creative environment. I’ll be showing it off in August 5-12, 2010, when I host The Great Smoky Mountain Quilting Tour. It will include the Asheville Quilt Show, lectures, 2 nights at the Historic Biltmore Estates, the beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway, visits to Lark Books, The Alliance for American Quilts, Handmade in America, Asheville Cotton Company, local galleries and more. A special highlight will be a day touring Burnsville’s Quilt Trail which features large colorful painted quilt blocks on barns and businesses. The Asheville area is on everyone’s ‘to-do’ list…..consider joining me for the fun. Download the brochure at: www.travelingtogether.net
We quilters are often asked why we quilt. The most common response I’ve heard from others is, ‘because I must.’ I’m not sure that completely describes my thoughts. I am creative, I don’t know where that came from but I think the problem solving aspect is what keeps me motivated. It’s a kick trying to figure something out, and yes, I have moments from time to time when I stamp my feet and say, ‘I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this,’ but I surge along and finally figure it out. Then I have my own little happy dance!
Another more thoughtful notion I’ve deducted, after thinking about this question for years, is that traditionally a women’s duty included raising children, grocery shopping, laundry, preparing meals, cleaning house….. all those tasks which need to be repeated day after day after day. What I love about quilting is that once I’ve completed my stitches, or added my beads, nobody removes them except me, and then, only if I want to. Quilting is a real and tangible way of looking at how I spend my time. Obviously, it’s far more satisfying than scrubbing our three toilets. Additionally, the creativity keeps my mind active. As a child of a parent who had Alzheimer’s, I can’t help but worry about my future. I’ve learned the importance of keeping the mind happy and agile, so at the end of a day, I look at my quilting and smile.
I hope you’ll enjoy seeing one of my latest bead embellished woolfelt pieces, Guinea Fowl Feather Remembered – 9" x 12". It will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative for their auction this fall at Houston’s Quilt Festival.
I started blogging a few years ago, something I never thought I’d ever want to do that. Mainly because I couldn’t imagine anything I had to say would be of interest to anybody else, however I finally decided to start for several reasons. One is because I have so many quilts; twenty plus years of travel teaching and writing books, it’s now time to find homes for them because I just can’t store them all. So it’s an easy way for collectors to access the list of available pieces. Blogging is also a way to keep in touch with my students and friends. A surprising benefit to blogging is that I now notice small things that surely I’d have previously overlooked in the hustle and bustle of my day…..sunlight on the mountain side or the rushing water flowing over rock in our creek. I also enjoy sharing process photographs of my work which helps readers understand the steps I go through as I create original work.
I found this bug eaten leaf on a walk, which inspired one of my many bead embellished woolfelt quilts. It’s titled "Fallen Leaf."
"Nature Inspired" was indeed inspired by more leaves I collected on my walks. I used textile paint to print their impression onto woolfelt to create additional design elements for this piece.
Whimsy and humor has often found its way into my quilts, so in closing, I hope you’ll enjoy seeing this recent one. "Grain of Salt", which needs a good home where Margarita’s are enjoyed!