Monday, 12 March 2012

My Modern Muse - Jennifer at The Enchanted Bobbin

Jennifer`s Berry Patch quilt
I am delighted that blogging friend Jennifer from The Enchanted Bobbin in Canada has joined me for the fourth part of the My Modern Muse series.  I came across Jennifer`s blog last summer and was immediately struck by Jennifer`s creativity. She is also super sweet! We have gorgeous weather here at the moment and so Jennifer and I took a stroll around the beautiful Majorelle Gardens and she shared with me a little about what inspires her.

The Majorelle Gardens, Marrakech
Annabella What inspired you to take up quilting in the first place Jennifer?
Jennifer My mother is an artist, a painter, so I feel like I grew up in art supply stores - surrounded by colour. But paint is not my medium; I have always loved fibre arts, and my first crafty passion was knitting (which I have been doing for 30 years...a sobering figure!). It was very exciting to see knitting become so popular (even trendy) over the past ten years, and online resources like and ravelry became part of my creative life but sewing itself is quite new to me. I had a bad junior high school home economics apron-sewing experience, and was intimidated by sewing machines for most of my younger adult life; I finally conquered that a few years ago when I took a series of (garment) sewing courses, and my regular reading of blogs started with following self-taught, vintage-inspired sewists like Peter of Male Pattern Boldness and Gertie of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing. And then I caught the quilting bug...that was the question, right?; Okay, sorry about that.

I stumbled across a number of modern quilting blogs and was just floored by the bold use of colour and pattern, and the striking difference between these quilts (and quilters) and the more traditional ones I knew quite well from my graduate work in Folklore (material culture studies was one of my secondary fields). I had never considered quilting before, but I started to get very curious about it, bought Denyse Schmidt's book, found myself unexpectedly pregnant (after a 13 year hiatus), which meant that garment-sewing for myself was going to be pretty hopeless for a few years (until my size and shape stabilized again...think I'm just about there now) and decided I should try to make a quilt! Now I'm completely hooked.

Annabella For those who don`t know you, how would you describe your style?
Jennifer I find this a very difficult question to answer; maybe you can tell me? I really love all things vintage, but on some days it's depression-era aesthetics that make me swoon, on others it's the boldness of `50s modern...and then again I am really drawn to much older traditional quilt designs (I always respected them, but now I am in awe of them) especially interpreted in modern fabric. I think I'm all over the map, but an outsider would probably have a better perspective on this than I do.

Dresden Plate quilt
Annabella When you are offline, what things in life inspire you to create your beautiful quilts?
Jennifer Fabric. It's all about the fabric. I open my fabric cupboard and want to start 15 new projects. Immediately. But I guess I have to say that I am also inspired by individual people, since I often make quilts specifically for someone, as a gift. I like the challenge of seeing through someone else's eyes, trying to anticipate what would appeal to him or her.

Annabella Apart from your immediate family, who or what has been the greatest creative inspiration in your life and why?
Jennifer I'm inspired by the city: I'm an urbanite through and through, and my creativity has always been fueled by people-watching. I'm lucky enough to live in the most culturally diverse city on the planet, and I'm inspired by everyone from the Italian widow who lives next door to me to the Korean teens on Bloor street. They all have such distinctive aesthetics, and I find that mix energizing.

Annabella Is there a blog you find a constant source of inspiration?
Jennifer I'm realizing that I'm a little bit fickle in my blog reading, and do look at a lot of sewing and quilting blogs (!), but a couple that are inspiring me lately are Melinda's quirkygranolagirl and Lesly's pickledish. They are both lovely, smart women and they make beautiful things.

Annabella Can you tell me a little bit about the quilt you brought with you and why it is special?

The Big One
 Jennifer It`s a quilt that I see every day because it's on my bed, affectionately known as The Big One (I usually play the straight woman in the comedy team that is my marriage, so I'll just leave it at that and let Greg fill in the rest).

Our "master" bedroom is quite small, so I knew that the bed covering would dominate the room and wanted something relatively quiet. I had made the Amy Butler curtains about a year earlier, so they determined the palette.I  really enjoyed the challenge of selecting prints from a wide variety of  sources, and of finding ways to lighten up and energize that very earthy Kona solid (I think the shade is "herb").

I had only been quilting for about 6 months when I made this queen-sized quilt with a wool batting and backed in absolutely scrumptious (but also quite heavy) Little Folks flannel, and there were some headaches caused by the extensive free-motion quilting (I had thread breakage issues and had to unpick about 2 square feet of quilting, re-do with a different thread...but it all worked out). I wanted the FMQ to feel a bit Klimt-esque. Anyway, I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment when it was done, but as usual it took me a while to see it with a fresh perspective -- and now I really love it.

Annabella Do you have a favorite quilting book?
Jennifer Tough question -- I love books! At my bedside I currently have the book Quilts 1700-2010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories by Sue Prichard (stories from the V & A exhibition; wish I could have seen it!) and also Jinny Beyer's Quiltmaking by Hand (although I have yet to follow her hand-piecing instruction...perhaps some time soon?) In terms of books I have used the most for specific projects, that would be Scrapbasket Sensations by Kim Brackett and The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman.

Annabella Do you pin Jennifer? Where can people find you?
Jennifer I'm hesitant to start pinning because I already have too many ideas and too little time! If you're looking for me outside pinterest, I can be found in the blogisphere here and on flickr here (which was my first online outlet and resource for all-things-quilty, and I'm still amazed by the ways in which it serves the sewing and quilting communities!

Annabella Is there something you haven`t tried yet that you would love to do?
Jennifer I recently bought Mastering the Art of McTavishing, and I would love to be able to emulate Karen McTavish's free-motion quilting style. At the other end of the spectrum, I want to do more hand quilting! And I have been meaning to make a kaleidoscope quilt. That must happen... I could go on, but I'll stop there.

Annabella Do you find there is a color palette you come back to again and again?
Jennifer I am naturally drawn to two palettes, one bright (orange and white) and one subdued (blue and brown). I had a lot of fun making my orange string quilt - it was an all-out Orange Extravaganza -- and I'm working on a very mellow, mod Swoon quilt with many of my favourite blues and browns... but overall I haven't made all that much in either one of these palettes.
Jennifer`s Orange String quilt
My 3-year-old daughter Frida has taught me to love pink, and I especially love pink and green together. I'm looking forward to starting a red string quilt some time soon, maybe combined with an icy gray....In fact, an all gray string quilt would be really interesting too!

I think it's fun to stretch myself in terms of colour and to use colours that aren't obvious choices for me.

Annabella Who is a creative inspiration you would most love to have 30 minutes of their time and why?
Jennifer I would love to talk to Anna Maria Horner about combining colour and prints...she has a special talent!If the language barrier could be erased, and if I were in a very bold frame of mind, I would love half an hour with Suzuko Koseki. I am in awe of her skill and aesthetic sensibility. But I probably wouldn't make the most of my 30 minutes because I would be too starstruck. In the sewing world more generally I want 30 minutes with Pati Palmer! I want to solve some of my garment fitting issues, and she's the lady to help me do it.

Annabella Who is your favorite designer?
Jennifer My first fabric loves were Japanese, and I could have spent all day and all my money at Superbuzzy.

I often find myself drawn to just a few prints in various lines, and the manufacturer whose prints I find myself drawn to time and again (many without a designer's name attached) would have to be Lecien. But I think it's pretty clear that I'm an Anna Maria Horner fan: almost everything I've made has had some AMH in it, somewhere!

Annabella Why do you think quilting has become so popular again?
Jennifer It's creative, inspiring, challenging (or as challenging as you want it to be), practical...but it was always that way, so why popularity now? Hmmm.

I know that quilting has always been popular, but not so much with young women - and it's young women who lead the way in cultural change, so the fact that so many young, hip, creative women are sewing and quilting is definitely something noteworthy.

I think quilting is being (re)discovered by new generations and new demographics for several reasons: the craft itself has diversified, as have fabric choices - and online access to knowledge, materials, inspiration and (importantly) social networks of quilters are key. There are so many talented people out there, many of whom aren't artists in their 9 -5 work lives, and the larger move towards craft and DIY seems to satisfy a desire to make and create material objects -- not simply consume them...And of course it's fun!

Thanks so much Jennifer for popping over and sharing your quilts with us.  If you don`t know Jenniffer, do pop over and say `hi`.


Susan Snooks said...

What an interesting 'muse'! Her story is fascinating! I think I need to go and visit her blog! And BTW I love your new header!

Prof. S (the enchanted bobbin) said...

Oh, that was so much fun, Annabella! I can't wait to take you for a stroll around Toronto.

Katy Cameron said...

Nice to meet you Jennifer, and thanks for the heads up on the Super Buzzy shop (although my bank manager may not thank you... ;o) ) said...

another great interview and to someone I did not know previously. Thanks for introducing me to Jennifer.

Archie the wonder dog said...

Another great muse feature! And I love Jennifer's FMQ on 'The Big One' - it's fabulous!!

Catherine said...

another great read Annabella, thank you

busybusybeejay said...

A great read and superb photos.

Cherie said...

Great interview very inspiring =D

Mrs Flying Blind... said...

Lovely lady, and completely awesome orange strings quilt!

Janine @ Rainbow Hare said...

What a wonderful conversation - you asked such good questions and the answers were really interesting. I must check out some of those links :)

Lesly said...

A lovely interview with Jennifer! I was so surprised to see myself linked here - I followed back from my Blogger stats. How nice to find a new blog to follow!

Jenelle said...

This is a great series! I am having fun learning about all of the wonderful ladies you have interviewed so far. :)