My quilting journey


pergola-1-front-wmI call myself a “contemporary” quilter because I make both art quilts and not-art quilts, and because I don’t naturally gravitate toward traditional, retro, or repro anything. I  like intense prints (the kind with 18 different color dots on the selvedge), bright colors, bold designs, and in-your-face color and pattern combinations. I get a kick out of exploring new possibilities with traditional blocks and methods, combining them with current fabrics and bold colors in unexpected ways.

When I was a kid I loved staying at my grandmother’s house, where every bed was draped in a beautiful handmade quilt. I loved exploring the patterns, looking to see where each fabric might appear again, and tracing the quilting lines with my fingers. My grandmother sewed by hand, and I’d watch, fascinated by her dexterity, as she’d wiggle a needle through three or four running stitches, then take a back-stitch to hold her thread securely in place.

I made my first qquilted pillow detailuilt in the 1990s, before there was such an exciting range of fabrics available, and it was not a very good or interesting one.  I hadn’t gotten very far into the quiltmaking journey when I met the man who is now my husband, sold my Park Slope apartment (abandoning Brooklyn moments before it became unbearable hip), and hopped on a plane to Hawaii, where we lived for 16 years until the fall of 2015.

When we left NYC for Hawaii, my stash spent the next few years boxed up in my parents’ attic in Maine. Eventually Mum got tired of housing so much of my crap and I spent a good part of one visit going through it all. I gave a lot of fabric to my sister (also a quilter, and far more active than me at that point) and shipped the rest to Hawaii.

TTC-frontIn the meantime I’d written a novel and some books on feng shui, started another internet business with my husband, and didn’t give much thought to quilting for a few years.

Then we moved to a house with a great deck and a view of the ocean and Hilo Bay. We marveled at how  cool it was due to the ever-present breeze off the water. A breeze that was downright chilly some days. We needed lap quilts to snuggle under while lounging on our deck chairs admiring the view! So I borrowed some Kaffe Fassett quilting books from the library for inspiration, rummaged around in the stash, repurposed parts of a long-neglected UFO, spent far more than I’d budgeted on new fabric, and, with a few interruptions and delays, managed to design, sew, and finally quilt a pair of “deck quilts” for myself and Mr. de Hilo.

Since then I’ve made quilts for our bed, made quilts for wedding gifts, and discovered the joy of turning leftover blocks into quilted pillow covers for the Venus de Hilo Etsy shop.

When we returned to the mainland in late 2015, roughly half of the contents of our two shipping crates was quilts and my quilting and art supplies. Clothes, books, and furniture were ruthlessly culled, so I could bring with us the stuff that really matters! We now live in Olympia, WA, a lovely city that we enjoy more each day, and the home of the South Sound chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild, of which I am a proud member.

ssmqg-improv-quilt-2-wmWhile I love and enjoy all aspects of quilting, I am most passionate about expressing my unique creative vision through improvisational art quilts. My approach to quilting is increasingly intuitive, and each new project surprises and delights me. Although I aspire to project monogamy, most typically I have half a dozen or more quilts in progress  (I’m afraid to take an accurate count!) My fabric shelves are full, scrap drawers are overflowing, and the  bin of “ready for quilting” tops fills up faster than I can empty it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I look forward to showing off my new creations for you here. Leave a comment on the blog to let me know what you think, or drop me an email at Stephanie {at} VenusdeHilo {dot} com.