I’m so happy that the Summer of Making is finally here — the craft portion begins tonight, when Denyse Schmidt is giving a lecture at the Museum of Contemporary Craft! She’ll describe her work, her process, and her approach to craft, and share images of new and in-progress projects… including a very special sneak preview of her upcoming Hope Valley fabric line! Denyse’s talk starts things off before her two-day workshop this Saturday and Sunday — which I am thrilled to be taking.
I had a chance to speak to her for a few minutes yesterday about the workshop, her current projects, and her thoughts on contemporary quilting.
Can you tell me a bit about the two-day workshop? I know you usually teach one-day classes.
Denyse: Yes, this is a new experience — more a combination of the regular and advanced Improvisational Patchwork classes. There’s so much more time that I think we’ll be able to take things quite far. Everyone will be working quite hard, and hopefully we’ll be doing some really cool stuff! I’m glad everyone in the class is giving themselves the gift of time to focus on making.
What have you been working on lately?
I’ve recently completed some quilts and and I have some others in progress. I’ll be sharing images of all of them at the lecture, as well as previews of my new Hope Valley fabric line! I don’t have fabric in hand yet but I will be able to show the designs. [Hope Valley will be coming out this fall - check out this tantalizing preview post at True Up for a bit more on the line!]
What are your thoughts on quilting these days?
There’s such a powerful interest in quilting now. I started my business 12 years ago and in the last 5 years I’ve seen interest build on the do-it-yourself end. There was such a renaissance of knitting a few years ago, and it seems to have carried over into “domestic crafts” now. Quilting has some built-in challenges, like the time factor and the need to use a sewing machine, so it’s been great to see the interest in it grow.
The Gee’s Bend quilts have been a big influence, too. And before that, there was a pivotal show of quilting at the Whitney in the 70s (“Abstract Design in American Quilts,” 1971), and I ran across the show catalog, which was a whole book of images, when I was starting my business. Jonathan Holstein wrote the introduction. He (and Gail van der Hoof) collected American quilts and in this show they were treated like contemporary paintings — put on the wall to view in that context for the first time.
Not all of them were masterpieces, not all were well made, some were quirky and simple, but they were so individual. In a world of traditional quilt shows and art quilts, they were really making a statement. And the Gee’s Bend show that opened in Houston and then went to the Whitney in 2002 was the first time since then that quilts were shown that way.
Design and the straightforward approach are what’s so interesting to me. I always make it up as I go along — the work seems more true that way.
Thank you, Denyse!
The lecture is free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!