Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Little Thank You.....

from the Quilt Alliance

This is the time of year that many of us reflect upon the events of the year as we head into the holiday season.  As an artist who makes quilts I like to reflect upon my path and give thanks to some of the individuals who made a difference along the way.  There are so many!  
If you are like me, there are a few standouts:  those instructors or perhaps even a family member who influenced you to become an artist.  
Here are a few of mine:
A rare photo of my grandmother working on a quilt at her sewing machine.
circa 1968

My grandmother, Maude Alice Mundell Tucker.  By the time I came along she was no longer a farm wife.  Instead, she had become the town seamstress in a small north central Kansas town.  She made every piece of clothing I wore until I convinced her to stop making double-knit pantsuits for me (I tended to be more of an Esprit de Corps-girl).  But my grandmother always had a quilt upstairs in the frame.  Unfortunately, I did not learn to quilt from her, but her love of textiles and quilts absolutely influenced me and drew me in.

Edith York.  Edith worked on the night shift in Labor and Delivery at the hospital where I practiced as an RN from the late 70s through the early 90's.  She was the second quilt maker I was influenced by as she would come into the lounge and work on her quilts before her shift began.  When I expressed interest, she encouraged me, even suggesting that we attend a block of the month series together.  I consider her my first real mentor.  She died a few years ago, and I miss her.

Ardeth Laake.  Ardeth is my husband's aunt.  Also an RN, I took a real shine to her when I married Tim.  Ever-humble, she was probably one of the most amazing quilt makers I have ever known, to this day.  She was a needler for Elly Sienkiewicz, the renowned author and creator of so many Baltimore Album quilts.  Ardeth attended the IQF with me in 1992 and it was the first time for both of us.

Libby Lehman.  When I attended my very first International Quilt Festival in 1992 I listened to her speak as part of a lecture series that also included Debra Lunn (another artist who influenced me to begin dyeing my own cloth, but that is another conversation).  Libby's unconventional take on creating quilts that had traditional roots really turned my head.  Later, when I was able to take a workshop with her I realized what a patient, giving instructor she is.  I like to believe that her style of instruction has influenced my own.

Hollis Chatelain.  Over the past 10 or 11 years I have taken an annual series of workshops with Hollis.  Taught in a series, these range from drawing, color theory, design, and more.  Hollis teaches them in the style of a college intensive.  For 5 days every year I buckle down and leave my ego on the doorstep.  As a result, I have learned to look at my work and consider it from a very different point of view.  The days are tough and the hours are long.  I always think of a line from the film, "A League Of Their Own", when Gina Davis says she is going to quit because "it just got too hard".  Tom Hanks responds, "Of course it is hard.  If it wasn't hard everybody would do it.  It is the hard that makes it GREAT".  I think that describes my time with Hollis.

Nancy Crow.  Although I have just begun to study with Nancy she is an artist I had admired and respected for as long as I can remember.  I took my first-ever weeklong workshop with Nancy in October of this year and I can honestly say I worked harder than I have ever worked and I adored every second of it.  I plan to continue studying with her and look forward to seeing how this influences my own artistic path.  Her passion is contagious.  I love her directness.  I think Nancy and Hollis are similar in their no-nonsense, direct styles and I find it quite refreshing.  I respect their honesty and their individual artistic voices.

Jane Dunnewold.  Although Jane is not mainly known as a quilt maker, she has made many quilts and has certainly influenced a legion of them.  She is really the mother of the art cloth movement.  I cannot really say enough about how she has impacted the scope of my work as an artist.  In addition, I have the good fortune to call her a close friend.  Her gentle style of instruction, her ability to summarize her thoughts and make sense of complicated information is truly admirable.  

My respect for each of these women knows no bounds.  I have so many more I want to add to my list, but these women influenced me at some critical juncture in my own path.  I urge you to consider who is on your own personal list.

As a board member of the Quilt Alliance I have opted to honor my personal mentors by making a contribution to the the organization.  What better way to honor them?  The mission of the Alliance is to preserve the stories of quilt makers and their work.  Stories of people who have made a contribution to our unique subculture no matter how small or widespread that mark might be.
Here is Tess Harper's lovely poem memorializing two of her personal quilt heroes.

Won't you join me by honoring your own with a $25 contribution?  If you do you will be eligible to win several wonderful prizes so it might be an early Christmas gift to you, as well.  Thanks in advance.

I would love to read who has influenced you along your path.  Please leave a comment here and be eligible for another giveaway!  I will draw a name from the comments left below on 12/15 at midnight.  Leave a comment prior to be eligible for the drawing.  Happy holidays.


  1. You are one of my greatest inspirations Leslie. I always love to see what you are working on at the SAMQG retreat and look forward to out conversations. Also it's because of you that I've learned about and "friended" some ladies on Facebook and IG who are art quilters which has expanded my view of quilting even more. I'm happy to make a donation in your name to an organization that I know holds such a special place in your life!

    1. Oh my goodness! That brought tears to my eyes, Anna. Thank you so much for those kind words and for supporting the Quilt Alliance, which is indeed near and dear to my heart! xo


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