Well, here I am. This is sort of an experiment. Theoretically, a journal of my progress – technical, artistic and otherwise – by cataloguing what I am working on and what I have finished (versus what I have finished? Hmmm..). Kinda grand sounding, that was. We’ll see.
About me, I live in a small rural town about as far north in Upstate New York as it is possible to be, on the northwestern edge of the Adirondack Mountains in the St. Lawrence Valley. I am a mother of 4 (3 grown, 2 still at home). I suppose you could say that we are homesteading, although that’s a bit too dedicated-sounding to be entirely accurate. We have about 20 acres to maintain and improve, as well a large garden or two. No livestock at this point, other than a dog and 2 cats. I have a Bachelor of Arts in History (my focus was in medieval history) because history encompasses everything and I couldn’t narrow my choices down any further than that. I am an opinionated, relatively introverted, philosophizing tree-hugger (according to my nearest and dearest) who generally believes in the concept of “live and let live.” Enough said on that score at this time.
The Hollow Tree is my workshop. I sew, by machine and by hand – all sorts of sewing. Mostly, I make quilts and quilted items from both traditional and original patterns – from baby items to bed quilts to wallhangings and lots of items in between. I also repair and repurpose antique and vintage textiles, for myself and for others. I do not, however, usually refer to myself as a “sewist” or a “quilter,” nor even an “artist.” I am an artisan. To quote Wikipedia –
An artisan or artizan (from French: artisan, Italian: artigiano) or craftsman (craftsperson) is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, sculpture, clothing, jewellery, household items and tools or even machines such as the handmade devices of a watchmaker. An artisan is therefore a person engaged in or occupied by the practice of a craft, who may through experience and talent reach the expressive levels of an artist using his hands, mind and heart in his work and what he creates.
Sewing is indeed a craft and sewing well requires skill and practice and precision – the techniques used to achieve the end result. Knowing when precision is required, knowing when to follow or guide the process – transforming something from loosely-related bits and pieces into a coherent meaningful whole – those are arts.
Most of my work is based on traditional American utility quilts – made to be both useful and beautiful. I piece the designs using many different bits of fabric, old and new. The patterns are usually simple geometrics, and they can be completely improvisational. The basic pieced pattern then becomes more complex, depending on the color, contrast and visual texture of the fabrics used. Additional complexity is added with quilting and perhaps other embellishments once the piecing is complete. The end results often surprise me because I usually start a project with no more than a vague-ish idea of exactly what I want to do.
I work mostly with scraps, remnants and vintage fabrics, my own contribution to the green movement, as well as for the more traditional reasons of thrift, economy and availability. I do not throw fabric away – virtually no scrap is too small for me to use somehow. I truly enjoy running across scrap bags, caches of vintage sewing items, patterns, ladies’ magazines, etc., and I can easily spend hours examining such items. Having said all that, the new fabrics are lovely, too, and my FAVORITE fabric stores are the ones that will sell me their shop scraps. I must admit that I frequent the stores of other current Etsy sellers who “destash” their scraps.
Did I mention that I have LOTS of projects ongoing at any given time? Yep, too many ideas buzzing around putting in their 2 cents worth for me to concentrate for long on only one. Some are simple and utilitarian, others are more complex and expressive. So, this website is indeed intended as a journal. A bit more complete than my little notebook of measurements and cutting notes, so that some of the little details about why and how I did something don’t get lost. (As an historian, I do try not to repeat mistakes.)
Additionally, I hope this website will promote my work. After all is said and done, I sell most of the quilts that I make – both online and in brick-and-mortar galleries, as well as at shows featuring fiber arts. I welcome custom requests from others (large and small) and I look forward to any opportunity to examine and work with antique and vintage textiles.
So, welcome to the Hollow Tree, my workshop both virtual and not, come on in and look around. If you see something you like or would like any further information, please feel free to comment or to contact me.