Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Why I'm No Longer Writing a Quilt Book

About a year ago to the day, I got home from work and received a phone call. On the other line was a representative of C&T Publishing, letting me know that they were dropping my book contract. At first, I was in total shock; I was 2 months from one of my biggest deadlines. Pen and paper in hand and somewhat in a daze, I jotted down some important info (several authors were being let go due to their downsizing in publishing books [which was later revealed officially in detail by Craft Industry Alliance], it was in my contract that this could happen, and I would receive an official letter in the mail).

Now, I know what you're thinking - you had/have options! You can still publish! Yes, I can. But do I want to? After a few months of considering all the options, I decided: no. Several friends were very helpful and encouraging; they pointed me in the direction of other publishers who might want to pick me up as an author. Otherwise, I could self-publish (there ARE so many options!), bring my books to workshops and lectures still, AND pave the way for others who might want to do the same. That certainly sounded viable.

After some research, time, and lots of thought, I made the decision not to shop around or self-publish for a few reasons. At this particular point in my life, I want to be a more a part of the quilt community rather than the quilt industry itself. Lots of wonderful, talented people make a living in the industry, and I'm so very grateful that it exists. BUT - there's SO much noise out there. I don't want to add another free motion quilting book to the market, another curated ad on your Instagram page, another sale. You might remember back when everyone had a blog, and then so many had a fabric line, or a book. When the latter happened for me, it felt strange and it didn't feel completely right, though I love to teach and write. I should have acknowledged that gut feeling from the beginning.

More specifically, I realized over the last year that I don't WANT my quilting to be my main business right now (maybe I never have, maybe never will), which is why I've been devoting much time and energy to my career in the real world. My "side hustle" and love for quilting don't HAVE to become my main focus or business. Some of the other reasons for not pursuing the book are more personal, and I'm grateful for my friends who have supported me so much in this decision. I wrote this post to bring some light, as so many have so politely and excitedly asked about the book's progress. Thank you! It all has a happy ending! :)

I will be teaching some of the concepts from the book in workshops and sharing these quilts in my lectures on modern quilting and quilt blocks for the rest of the year. I plan to accept limited engagements in 2019, too. I'm still working with quilting companies and utilizing products I love. I'm still blogging (going on 8 years! Is that real?) and still writing The Wonky Press (which is somehow 2.5 years old?). I'm still entering quilt shows and exhibitions here and there. I'm still designing and making quilts (what I love most). But I'm no longer writing quilt patterns and I'm not writing a book at this time. This feels so right to me.

But it seems a shame not to share the quilts that I made for the book - 1. Because they were the bulk of quilt work I did over nearly a year and 2. I'm so grateful to the companies who put their trust in me and gave me materials. I just put the binding on the very last quilt after several slow months of finishing up the details and thinking all the thoughts.

So, this summer, I'll be sharing the body of 6 finished quilts from the book as part of a series on quilting modern quilts! There will be no rush to reveal (roughly every 2-3 weeks, which will take me to September/October), which will give me time to write detailed blog posts on the design and quilting thought behind each one. These are really special quilts to me, and now that they are completely finished, I am excited to share them with you! I also hope to open up some discussion about the modern quilting movement, and to highlight the companies I have had the pleasure of working with. I will also be giving away some goodies! Peek back for an intro post and the first quilt shortly.

I can't end this blog post without thanking a few people. My guildmates and longtime friends of the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild for their continued support and love in whatever I choose to do. Abby Glassenberg, Anne Sullivan, Jenelle Montilone, Jess Levitt, and Lindsie Bergevin for your encouragement and guidance. My family, who has forever been supportive of everything.

Finally, the following wonderful companies provided fabric, batting, and thread to make these quilts possible (I will be sharing more details in each post): Andover Fabrics, Aurifil Threads, Cloud9 Fabrics, Free Spirit Fabrics, Northcott Fabrics, RJR Fabrics, Robert Kaufman Fabrics, and The Warm Company. Thank you so much for your continued support of my quilting and of the quilting community.

I've been quiet on the blog lately, working on finishing the last of the quilts and some other projects. Onward!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Kintsugi: A Pantone Challenge Quilt

Kintsugi is the Japanese practice of filling pottery cracks with gold in order to create beauty out of brokenness. The method, so prevalent in my mind over the last year, translates to my life in several ways. Mulling over this fact and inspired by the Pantone Color of the Year, ultraviolet (purple, my favorite color), I embarked on the first of what will hopefully be a series of small quilts.

Recently, renowned artist Lisa Congdon posted her thoughts about "art is survival," and that is the most succinct way to describe the last 8 years for me. I'm slowing down on production (so many ideas!) and beginning to focus more on the kinds of sewing that make me most happy. The process. The details. The quilting.

Quilting came to me at a time (age 20) when the whole world was a possibility. While this is still true, 8 years is a long time in both life and in practice of art. Lots of wonderful and terrible things happened. The daily practice of quilting (and my quilt friends) really kept me together. Only within the last couple years, though, do I think I had the capability to create something like this. Only after going through some really tough times. Now, I feel like I can get through anything.


Because kintsugi is about the beauty in the struggle. When I first cut the vase out from my piecing, it looked nothing like my vision, and I had to cut it apart and piece it together again. I tried to embrace it as part of the process - and I'm really glad I kept persisting, going back and forth for a few days before I finalized the vase's shape.

I purposefully pieced some lighter purple scraps in jagged, angular ways to show the cracks in my vase. After quilting the vase with my walking foot in three colors (Aurifil 1200 Blue Violet, 2540 Medium Lavender, and 1100 Red Plum), I used DMC metallic embroidery floss 5282 to embroider in gold. It was a challenge to make it look like real cracks and not hand-drawn with chalk beforehand! Thank you to Lindsay and Alyson for your encouragement!

For parts of the embroidery, I played with the kintsugi method of filling whole pieces of the broken pot in with gold, separate from the cracks.

At first, I considered quilting the pieced gray background like Metropolis, but thought it better to use lines rather than waves (to make the pot's curves more obvious). It was too plain for me, though, so I started randomly quilting orange peels with my free motion foot inside some of the channels. I used a variegated thread, Aurifil 4060 Silver Moon, which smoothly glides from light to dark gray (thereby blending and standing out at different points throughout the background).

My husband spotted me taking these pictures, remarking, "It looks like something you would make." I was pleased. The vase is my favorite color surrounded by my favorite motif, quilted orange peels. The backing is my current 2nd favorite fabric ever ("Rosealea" by Nel Whatmore for Free Spirit - very ultraviolet). The quilt itself is anything but perfect. Just how I like it.

I made pleats inside the vase to make up for the extra fabric pooling while I quilted (Sherri Lynn Wood teaches a method in her book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters). The embroidery is purposefully see through/not completely full. The background and pot are purposefully lopsided. Needless to say, this quilt came out even better than I hoped, and it's very special to me. Isn't that what quilting is all about? And now, I'm thinking of other ways I can represent kintsugi in quilt form. So much to think about.

Quilt stats:
-Size: 37" x 37" and made in the USA
-Designed, pieced, and quilted by me on my Janome 6300 home machine
-Made for the 2018 Pantone Quilt Challenge (and for my personal enjoyment), hosted by Rebecca of Bryan House Quilts and Sarah of No Hats in the House
-Other kintsugi quilts of interest: by Alexis Deise

Linking up to the 2018 Pantone Quilt Challenge (quilts category), TGIFF, Needle and Thread Thursday, Crazy Mom Quilts.


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