Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Deja Vu: An Interview with a Quilter

As the Pattern Pieces exhibit winds down this month at the Michener Museum, I just wanted to share a really special moment that happened along the way.

Spot On, 2014, 36" x 36", Salvaged wood from Hurricane Sandy

I was tagged on Instagram by really accomplished quilter, Amy Verne. She had admired my work at the museum, in particular “Center Cut, ” but when she went on my website - she found her favorite:  “Spot On.”  

Starting in January, Amy began to recreate the pattern in cloth and she finished it a few months later.  Her progress of the quilt was posted bit by bit on Instagram. She sewed it entirely from her stash of  scrap fabrics to mimic the limitations that I had when using wood salvaged after Hurricane Sandy.  
Spot On II: Cloth , 2016, 72" x 72", cotton cloth  
What really impressed me about this recreation was Amy's ability to see the fine details of rips and tears of the wood, the layers of peeling paint, and the grain line. She was able to recreate the wood's grain lines by quilting. 

By taking the top cloth of the pattern, with the inner layer of cotton batting and back fabric, Amy articulated the wood grain by stitching various design lines on each one of the blocks for an individual look of wood grain. This sewing on top of the pattern is called quilting, the arrangement of fabric is called patchwork. In the bottom photo, there are he two, distinct patterns of stitching that are quite clear in this blue and brown square. Amy stated that each triangle had its own unique stitching done to represent the grain. There are 200 blocks in Amy's quilt, which equals 400 triangles. WOW!

Amy's ability to capture the detail didn't stop there. To emphasize the ripping of the wood, or the chipping of the paint, Amy switched colors of cloth within a triangle/block. I use the salvaged wood as I have it - with the original colors, the original damage and nail holes are always left alone. Amy created this treatment by alternating colors. For example, the blue triangle is interrupted by the bright orange rectangle; the light orange has slashes of white through it. Again, notice how Amy individually quilted the bright orange rectangle differently than the blue triangle to highlight the different wood grains.

This is a detail of my work which shows the chipped layers of paint, the cracked wood, and the nail holes. I love looking at the original wooden quilt and comparing it to the cloth one. The similarities are remarkable, and the differences are joyful. Amy's individual interperation of the work is outstanding.

I wanted to get to know Amy a bit more so I asked her if she'd like to be interviewed for this blog. Thankfully for us, she agreed.

Laura: What is your background with quilting? How/when did you get started, and how has your work changed over time?

Amy: I made one quilt about 20 years ago using a little instruction pamphlet that came with my sewing machine. It was a windmill pattern and I made it with garment fabric because I didn’t know any better. My oldest daughter literally loved it to pieces. What is left of it is now in my linen closet.

Then about five years ago I decided I wanted to take up quilting as a hobby, so I searched the internet and found the newly formed Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild. I joined and have learned so much from my fellow members. I didn’t know what a layer cake was and I thought that sewing curves (in quilts) was completely impossible!

Laura:Tell me about your favorite quilt. Who was it for? Where is it now?

Amy: My favorite quilts are the ones that are used by my family every day. I like to make utilitarian quilts, so I love seeing them all rumpled up on the end of the couch or thrown over a hastily made bed.

It is nice to see the family cat enjoying the comfort of Amy's new quilt.

Laura: Do you have other art activities that you practice? (Like knitting, painting)?

Amy: I’m what you’d call a serial crafter. I’ve dabbled in needlepoint, embroidery, cross stitch and crocheting. I’ve been a garment sewer since my grandmother taught me to sew when I was a teenager.

Amy's two youngest children are pictured here holding up an amazing abstract quilt.

Laura: What inspires you the most?

Amy: The sources of my inspiration are evolving. While I was learning the basics of quilting, I relied on established quilt patterns while I played with fabric selection, color variations and alternate grids. Lately, I’ve begun to get inspiration from works of art. Spot On II is the first example of this. My next artwork-inspired quilt is going to be based on a student’s drawing that I saw hanging in my local library. At least that’s my plan.

Laura: What do you plan to do with Spot On? What will you name it?

Amy: I’ve named this quilt “Spot On II: Cloth” and that’s about as fancy as my quilt names get. I’m planning to submit Spot On II for consideration at The Modern Quilt Guild’s QuiltCon East to be held in February 2017 in Savannah, Georgia. It would have to be juried in and it will be my first solo submission.

I wish Amy the best of luck in her submission! For more about Amy Verne's quilts - please visit her Instagram page: @amybob3kids


  1. awesome wood work and accompanying quilt.

  2. Hi! I love the wood art you make! As a quilter I really like the quilt made from an inspiration of your work! x Teje