January 9, 2019

Joining us for the first time this year is Alaska-based fiber artist Maria Shell. Maria’s work is grounded in the tradition and craft of American quilt making. She strives to take the classical components of a traditional bed quilt and manipulate them with the hope of creating surprising combinations of pattern, repetition, and color for the viewer. In her October 20-26, 2019 workshop you’ll use solid colored quilters cottons and learn how to stitch an assortment of pieced prints including stripes, chevrons, polka dots, herringbones, circles and curves.

Q: How did you first begin creating art with the medium(s) you’ll be using in your workshop?

MS: I started sewing when I was four, but never thought of it as a career path. When we moved to Valdez, Alaska in 2000. I took my first quilt class, and it really was this sort of explosive experience for me–I could not stop making quilts. Almost 20 years later and I am still piecing quilts. I wake up every day thankful I have found my passion and that I actually get to work as a professional quilt maker, teacher, and writer. 

Q: Tell us about your process from idea to finished piece.

MS: I like to work on several pieces at once. I think of myself as bit maker. I create dozens of “bits”–which are really small pieced units that I then put on my design wall and move around. I often sketch out my ideas with black ink on paper. I know that if I can get a good graphic image on paper that I can often translate that design to a colorful pieced composition. I have spent a lot time exploring traditional American patchwork blocks as the foundation/structure for my compositions. Once the composition is completed, I quilt it on my long arm quilting machine. 

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop. Will it be more structured with specific tasks for students or will be it be more free form with students exploring their own work with your guidance?

MS: I like to do a formal lecture at the beginning of each day which usually includes technical information and an assignment as well as ideas about being an artist and cultivating your voice. From there, I move around the room visiting with each student one on one. My hope is to meet each student where they are in their path and empower them to move forward. At the end of the week, we will do a sharing as well as individual private student lead meetings where the student is free to ask for help with whatever matters to them most–a critique, a discussion about showing work, how to create a schedule to get in the studio everyday are all common topics–whatever they would like to talk about is what we discuss. My hope is always to meet the student where they are and move forward together on a positive creative journey. 

Learn more about Maria’s workshop on our website.