January 24, 2014
Laura 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.
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.
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.
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?
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!