An Interview with Laura Wasilowski

Wasilowski laura lg4Laura Wasilowski is both a contemporary quilt maker and creator of hand-dyed fabrics and threads. I have long been an admirer of the style, colors, and sense of whimsey of her award-winning pictorial work. The inspiration for her compositions come from stories of her life, family, and friends.

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Laura has an undergraduate degree in Costuming from the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN and a Master of Art degree in Fiber from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL.

Laura constructs all her work with fused hand-dyed fabric. (Fusing is using an adhesive material on the back of the fabric, that is then set in place with the heat of an iron.) Back when the notion of fusing was new and not as common as it is today, Laura, along with her friend Melody Johnson, joined the imaginary school, The Chicago School of Fusing, founded by Robbi Eklow in 1997. Their purpose was to promote the use of fusing! They even created a school description and school song, which Laura is always happy to teach you. When you complete a workshop with Laura, you’ll also get a graduate certificate for the Chicago School of Fusing!

Beside being an artist, teacher, and lecturer, Laura is the owner of the dye shop, Artfabrik. She produces hand-dyed fabric and threads. She often has a booth at the major quilt shows, such as the International Quilt Festival, but you can shop directly on her website, too. She always brings a colorful array of her products with her to workshops.

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Laura had these responses to our interview questions:

How long have you been teaching and what got you started teaching?

A friend, head of a local arts center, suggested I teach a class on how to create a pattern and make a custom jacket. That was over 20 years ago. More jobs were acquired through other friends who saw the art quilts I was creating using my hand dyed fabrics. I’ve always been fortunate in my friendships.

What is your favorite part about teaching?

It always amazes me to see my students’ creativity bloom as they make their art work. There is a critical moment for each person when they discover the freedom and wonder of making art. And to share that wonder is a delight.

What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop?

You’ll learn new skills and have an opportunity to play with color, shape, and fabric. But most of all, you’ll experience the joy of creating art work that is truly original.

What are you currently working on in your own art?

Currently I’m making a set of small art quilts that will be joined together in a book format. It’s a project I’ve dreamed of making for a long time. Wish me luck!

Where is your art currently being exhibited?

Artfabrik is part of the Masters 2 exhibit sponsored by Studio Art Quilt Associates and will be traveling to the many American Quilter’s Society shows in 2014.

I also have work in an number of other exhibits that you can learn about on my website.Wasilowski laura sm2014

Is your work represented in galleries, and if so, what hints would you give to artists looking for gallery representation?

As an Illinois Artisan, my work can be seen at the 3 Illinois Artisan Shops and Galleries in Illinois (Chicago, Whittington, Springfield). Check to see if your state has a program that will encourage the display and sales of your art. In Illinois there is a jury process for admission into the program.

Do you sell your work in any online gallery?

Yes, you can view small pieces for sale here: Small Art Portfolio and larger pieces here: Large Art Portfolio

What is your favorite art quote?

I have this on the bulletin board in my studio. It’s by Kurt Vonnegut: “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.”

Describe your studio.

My studio is in the basement of our home and consists of 2 finished rooms.The first room is my dye studio and cluttered office. On the left you’ll see the computer, file cabinets, and stacks of paperwork. Boxes for fabric dyeing, shelves of dye powder, and thread drying from hangers on water pipes surround the washer, dryer, and double sink. It is also the family laundry room. My sewing studio has a design wall, 2 large tables for my sewing machines, 2 storage cabinets for finished quilts and a high table suitable for constructing art quilts that is covered in Teflon. Along with excellent lighting, the studios are connected with a hallway for storing the fabrics and threads I sell for Artfabrik.

Name five of your “can’t” do without tools/products.

  • an iron
  • sharp scissors
  • hand dyed fabric
  • embroidery thread
  • fusible web

Laura is teaching another workshop for us this Spring: April 3 – 6, 2014. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to spend 3 days with Laura, who takes the “work” out of workshop and turns it in to a fun-shop. You’ll learn a lot while having a blast!

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More Recent Instructor Interviews:

An Interview with Paula Nadelstern

KALEIDOSCOPIC XXXVIII Millifiore 82 x 82 2013 Whole Quilt Jpeg

If you are a quilter or quilt artist, when you hear about kaleidoscopes, you automatically think – Paula Nadelstern. Paula has taken the magical qualities of the ever-changing and shifting dance of colors created by kaleidoscopes and translated this visual excitement into fabric, both in her art quilts and in her fabric designs for Benartex, Inc.NewImagePaula is the author several excellent books: Kaleidoscopes & Quilts, Snowflakes & Quilts, Puzzle Quilts: Simple Blocks, Complex Fabric, Paula Nadelstern’s Kaleidoscope Quilts: An Artist’s Journey Continues and Kaleidoscope Quilts: The Workbook. It is easy to see why she is such a popular teacher. Paula will be teaching a 5-day/6-night workshop with us this Spring: March 16 – 22, 2014. (There are still a few space left in this class.)

Paula is currently very busy designing a new line fabric for Benartex, but she graciously took some time out to answer our interview questions.

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching about 20 years.

What is your favorite part about teaching?

It’s not until you teach something to someone that you understand it really well. Breaking down your own creative act, first by identifying your personal strategies, and then by dividing them into a sequence of steps, forces you to reflect on what things aren’t, as well as what they are. This exploration steers you in lots of valuable directions. It leads you to the vocabulary needed to articulate your private visual language. It helps you recognize the kinds of mistakes students are likely to make and head them off at the pass. And it awakens new ideas, pushing you, the artist, further along your creative path.

What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop?

The new view offered in a good workshop is a creative springboard, leading not to imitation but to experimentation. Taking a class from someone who has a strong personal aesthetic is a short cut to new skills.

A longer workshop provides the time for both process and product and for setbacks — which often turn out to be the take-aways, the lessons that occur when a misstep needs to be fixed. Guided error correction cements and integrates skills, making processes even richer and layered. In a longer format, the instructor doesn’t need to oversimplify the process.

Consider the time and space to create among like-minded peers a rare gift to be much appreciated. Seeing what and how the others working alongside you create is almost as good as making it yourself.

What are you currently working on in your own art?

I’m about to start the thirty-ninth quilt in my Kaleidoscopic series. I have a vague idea about a kaleidoscopic image with seams showing on the front. My just finished quilt, KALEIDOSCOPIC XXXVIII: Millifiori, 82“ x 82“ , (shown at the top of this article) is my first quilt using only fabric from collections I’ve designed for Benartex and the first one quilted by me on a long arm machine courtesy of APQS. (editor’s note: We had the chance to see Paula in action at the APQS booth during the Houston International Quilt Market this past October. The quilt is magnificent in person!)

NewImageI’m working on the 14th fabric collection for Benartex. Two collections recently premiered, called PALINDROMES and METALLICA.

Where is your art currently being exhibited?

I’m currently involved in two group tours.

1. I’ve been a member of the Manhattan Quilters Guild for close to thirty years. It’s an eclectic group of professional fiber artists who meet in New York City. Every few years we challenge members to create a 36” square quilt exploring a theme. The current exhibition is titled MATERIAL WITNESSES. Link to our website and learn more about the guild and see our current and past exhibitions.

2. Semper Tedium: The Slow Art of Quilting featuring quilts by Paula Nadelstern, Amy Orr, Robin Schwalb and Katherine Knauer, will be mounted at the Texas Quilt Museum, January 9-April 1, 2014. Here is our manifesto:
Semper Tedium revels in process, rejoices in community and celebrates artwork created in “as much time as it takes.” Working separately in urban spaces throughout the year, the four quilt artists in this exhibit have met twice a year for the past decade. These cherished artist retreats reinforce shared dedication to integrity of construction and pursuit of unique personal visions in spite of societal pressure to work faster and produce more.

The tongue-in-cheek phrase Semper Tedium celebrates the ritualistic act of creation for its own sake, a laborious and satisfying process. Often heard comments such as “How long did it take?” or “My, you must be so patient” imply that anyone with time on their hands could make similarly accomplished works if so inclined. This point of view overlooks the skill, artistry and dedication necessary to realize any maker’s unique vision and subtly diminishes the status of quiltmaking.

Do you sell you work?

No, I rarely sell my work, keeping it as a body of work for exhibition.

What is your favorite art quote?

I heard a quote by the patriarch of the Flying Wallenda family. Essentially he said: “To be on the high wire is to be alive, everything else is waiting.” After months filled with the business of quiltmaking, the moment comes when I step onto my figurative tightrope, setting in motion an act balanced between me, my fabric and my technique. The real world hushes and blurs in the background while I wend my way alone, sometimes wobbling and scared that I won’t make it, somehow regaining equilibrium. At last, the waiting is over.

Describe your studio

I make my quilts on the same block in the Bronx where I grew up. We are three generations living within a block of each other on this most northern NYC street: my daughter, my mother-in-law, my husband and me. For over twenty-five years, my workspace in our ninth floor, two-bedroom, cram-packed-with-fabric-and-sewing-stuff apartment was the forty-two-inch round kitchen table. Today I work in a 15- by 10-foot studio revamped from my daughter’s former bedroom. Picture ceiling-high cupboards stuffed with fabric, drawers overflowing with the paraphernalia quilters collect, six feet of design wall, and a Bernina ready to go on a 4 by 6-foot counter.

Name five of your “can’t do without” tools/products

  • Visigrid Non-Glare See-Through Template Sheets
  • Faber Castell Black Permanent Fine Pointed Pen
  • LED Sewing Machine Light
  • Knee lift and needle down for sewing machine
  • Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Scissors Medium 6″


More Recent Instructor Interviews:

An Interview with Kathyanne White


In 2001 Kathyanne White was named a “trendsetter” in Art Business News and since then she has continue to push the envelope with her digital alternative surfaces.

Her work has been exhibited in Museum of Arts and Design, NY, the Museum of American Folk Art, NY, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in IN, the Snyderman Gallery, PA, and the National Museum of History in China, to name just a few of the many.


Kathyanne has taught workshops for us a few times and we have always been impressed by the contagious enthusiasm she freely shines on everyone, along with a passion for her art and her love of sharing her ideas and techniques. She is an unending fount of ideas! Kathyanne will be teaching a 5-day/6-night workshop for us this year, April 27 – May 3, 2014.


Digital Printing Alternative Surfaces: THE DEFINITIVE SOURCE is Kathyanne’s most recently publish book. It contains 152 pages of information and over 260 photographs describing her work process.

Kathyanne’s websites, blogs, and YouTube Channel has such a wealth of information, tips, and resources that you can get lost in them for days.

Kathyanne Art website
Digital Alternative Surfaces website and blog
Kathanne Art blog
Kathyanne White YouTube Channel

Here are Kathyanne’s answers to our interview questions:

How long have you been teaching and what got you started teaching?

I’ve been teaching for over 30 years. I was creating quilt coats and jackets and started teaching the techniques out of my home. Some women wanted to learn how to make wearables and I was happy to share my ideas.

What is your favorite part about teaching?

I love it when students are excited and they find something that inspires them during a workshop. Workshops for me are about the process and not the finished product. I love to teach techniques and ways for the students to expand their own work. It’s wonderful to see what they come up with that suits them.

What would you tell your prospective students are three best reasons for taking a workshop?

Have fun while learning and participating – enjoy yourself. Play with the process and material being presented and be creative—not worrying about the results so you can take risks. To learn a process that can be used in their own way with their own work—once they get back to their own surroundings.Forest Surfaces 22 .jpg

What are you currently working on in your own art?

I am currently obsessed with digital printing metals and refiguring the prints into 3D assemblages. I am using fiber techniques with the metals—for example I am crocheting pieces together with wire. Also knitting metal on my knitting machine for different layers in some of the pieces. My pieces are then hung in unique ways for display.

Where is your art currently being exhibited?

Currently my work is exhibited in invitational shows or on my site – Digital Alternative Surfaces

Is your work represented in galleries?

I am not currently showing in galleries but working with private art consultants. Since I just started on a new body of work with my metals it will probably be a few more month before I am actively selling my current work.

What is your favorite art quote?

“To draw you must close your eyes and sing” – Pablo Picasso

Describe your studio.

My studio is 1200 square feet. It consists of two rooms plus a wet work area containing a washer and dryer and a large stainless photographers sink. KathyAnne Digital Studio.jpgMy digital studio is outfitted with the following:

  • Two Apple computers
  • Two Wacom HD Cintiqs
  • An Apple 31″ cinema screen
  • Epson 7890 printer
  • Epson R3000 printer
  • Epson Workforce 1100 printer
  • Epson 430 printer
  • Epson R2000 printer
  • Bookshelves – filing cabinets-

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The other of the two rooms contains the following:

  • Four—4 x 8 foot tables covered with table size cutting mats.
  • A 40″ x 72″ table with cutting mat top
  • Bernina industrial sewing machine, modified with 21″ throat clearance.
  • Janome felting machine
  • Elna sewing machine
  • Bernina computer sewing machine
  • All sorts of art supplies and tools
  • Futon—papason chair
  • Cutting boards covering all my table.
  • Bernina Ironing system
  • Over 2000 beverage cans for printing
  • Random chairs and stools
  • Large desk
  • Heat press

The large room is surrounded by windows with a 2 entries from outside. One opens to a patio under a deck. Concrete floors through out the studio

Name five of your “can’t do without” tools/products

  • InkAid precoats
  • Epson 7890 printer
  • Recycled beverage cans
  • Computer
  • Wacom HD Cintiq

Here are a couple more pieces of Kathyanne’s recent work.

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The Falls Recycled 23″ x 24″ digital print on beverage cans in 4 layers—stacked with beads—bottom layer is loom knitted silver parawire

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Forest Surfaces 21 22″ x 19″ x 5″ beverage cans crocheted on brass wire, metal mesh 3d base on metal frame

More Recent Artist Instructor Interviews:

Joe Weatherly – Animal Drawing and Oil Painting


Besides the new feature of interviews with our artist instructors on this blog, we are also interested in highlighting the artists who attend the workshops. If you’ve attended a workshop of ours in the past and would like to be featured, including links to your website and blog, drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you!