I am a singer. Well, not professionally but I took 6 years of voice lessons in high school and college. I sang in plays, choirs, church, and classes. I love singing. I absolutely love to sing in the car and the shower. I even taught singing lessons for a short while to high school kids. I know the right breathing techniques, how to hold your mouth and proper tongue placement. I know quite a few musical terms but I’m not the greatest at reading music. I am not a fantastic singer, although if I practiced more I probably could be better than I am. With lack of focus, practice and desire, my voice is not what it once was. It’s a little sad but I’ve come to terms with it. I still sing in the Community Christmas Choir every year and it’s awesome!
I decided a few years ago that as much as I love music and singing it didn’t bring me as much joy as creating a quilt. I decided not to focus on music and to shift more of my energy into my art quilts. In art, we talk about finding your voice or a recognizable style. What is finding your voice?
One of my favorite art quilters, Joan Colvin, lived in the San Juan Islands, WA. Sadly she has passed away but her work and style still inspire. Her book, Nature’s Studio, talks about voice, “Let me assure you, with each piece you do, your voice will become more authoritative and more convincing– both to yourself and to your viewers. I think it is completely normal to be uncertain much of the time. There is a difference, though, between uncertain and floundering. I never feel I am floundering because I have learned to identify what is happening: I may be tired. I may be annoyed that I’ve made unsuccessful choices. I may recognize that I have a bad idea…..The creative process will have ups and downs and will not always be comfortable.”
She also said that “ When people see your work, they can identify it as yours.” I went to many art quilt groups and you could see the common thread in my fellow quilter’s quilts. I love it when I can look at a piece of art and you can say, “Hey, that’s a Rembrandt, a Monet, or a Kathleen’s.” I have two dear friends named Kathleen (check out here) that are amazing art quilters who I admire and they definitely know their voice. In the 17 years that I have been creating art quilts I still feel that I haven’t found my voice. I haven’t reached that point, I’m getting closer.
“The answers come as you immerse yourself in more and more fabric projects– you learn with each piece you do. What I have spoken of is an inner sense that says, ‘Yeah,
I love this. I want to do it whenever I have a choice. I want to find out what will happen if I…’ ” (Colvin, p.9) I love to manipulate fabric as did Joan. I like to paint fabric like MJ Kinmann, and I love to couch yarns. So now I put those things together and keep playing with them.
I have tried so many techniques that I’ve lost count. I keep a sketchbook, not regularly. I think I was getting close to finding my voice about 6 years ago, then I decided to homeschool my 4 kids. Quilting got put on the back burner. I dabbled in it here and there to keep my sanity but I wasn’t creating nearly as much. A new baby and a pre teen with ADHD and 2 other kids will do that. But I digress.
So here I am – back on my journey, the baby is 7 and my oldest off to college. Although life is still pretty crazy, my husband and I have also dove into this machine quilting business together. We decided life is better when I am regularly focusing on my quilting. As I’ve contemplated my voice and how I’m going to find it – I realize that it’s like my singing voice. For it to develop it needs practice, focus, and techniques. I have the techniques, the focus, now to continue to add the practice. Why don’t you come along with me in my creative processes to find my elusive voice and if I don’t find it – I’ll at least have found joy in the journey.
My name is Amy, and after years of traditional quilting I developed the curiosity to experiment with and incorporate different types of tools, embellishments, fabrics, yarns, and fabric art techniques into my quilts. I acquired multiple long arm machines, hired employees, and started an edge to edge quilting business for quilts of all sizes and also teach other quilters how to begin incorporating and discovering fabric art and design into their own quilts in a simple and easy way.