This month, for the first time ever, we feature a fiber artist who has quilted a storyboard based on certain dramatic events from JRR Tolkein’s book, ‘The Hobbit’. Sherry Drew is the artist of this fantastic quilt. Her art is expressed on back fabric, with cut out pieces of fabric sewn, and threaded together using different quilting methods.
Sherry tells us there are a variety of different techniques in quilting. Her favourite is Thread Painting, which is a heavy threaded quilt technique used to cover entire areas. Free Motion quilting is like a finer paintbrush. She says, “You will notice quite a bit of thread painting on the ‘Unexpected Party’ panel on the Hobbit quilt.” There are a variety of Applique Threadings, which she prefers a particularly rough edge technique in this type. The ‘Gandalf comes to Hobbit’ panel uses a cut scrap fabric method. She adds, “This was fun and truly scary to do as I had never done it before. Each bit of fabric was cut into tiny bits, then sewed into place. I like this method very much and can see more of it happening in the future”.
Her grandmother was a quilter and would gather with friends to quilt by hand. Since children were not included in the Quilting Bees groups, Sherry was only able to look on in amazement. With the exception of a course she took through a fabric store on a specific quilting method, she is mainly self-taught and acknowledges this as the beginning of her quilting journey.
Her inspiration comes from fabrics and paintings, to life in general. Her sister bought her an Art Quilting Studio Magazine, and in it was a section by Liz Alessi where she took scraps of ragged fabric and slapped them down on a beautiful back fabric, and free motion quilted faces on the scraps. Sherry tells us it blew her mind, and opened areas of her thinking of a quilt from being bedding to being art.
The venture of this particular Hobbit quilt began when Sherry visited Motion Gallery. At the time, she recalls the art being incredibly colourful and varied, and she was instantly inspired to quilt since her expression is seen through fabric.
The Hobbit quilt took Sherry approximately 3,300 hours to complete. She admits she is a compulsive quilter, finding it difficult to limit herself to how much she will do once she starts a project, and will often quilt for 14 to 16 hours a day, until she feels satisfied it is finished. To put this into perspective, it took 235 days, or close to 8 months to complete this quilt.
Her message to anyone wanting to pursuit quilting, is to not be afraid of trying new techniques, make a quilt that you love, and it might show you that others feel the same way. She says you don’t need to stick to one method, and notes that her Hobbit quilt was mostly quilted with different methods and styles incorporated into it.
Sherry tells us, “Being fearless is a good method of quilting. I was told early in my quilt-making journey that mistakes make your work original. They are what others will see after you are gone and the only thing of yours that remains is your quilt. The mistakes are the true you, the human part of you that shows through in the beauty of the colors and designs. That allowed me to explore and not get frustrated that everything had not gone to plan.”
She has just finished a ‘Lions in Africa’ quilt, and is trying to discover a way to capture the shimmering vibrancy of orange, purple, and yellows in the amazing sunset of the Mohave Valley skies. She has recently begun painting on fabric, and then quilting the painting. “My painting is in the practice phase, as beginning a painting is as terrifying as cutting into a new piece of fabric. Once you start there is no going back”
Sherry is a storyteller, and her goal is to simply allow the quilts she has in her head to be made, and to have them live. She explains, “It seems a quilt is not finished until the quilt is finished. I never know when it is done. The quilt suggests the time. It is odd. This is hard to explain as I have no goal when I sit down to sew. It is like I know when it is done and it is hard to stop until this happens.”
Her Hobbit quilt will be on display at Motion Gallery for the full month of March. Come check it out!
Written by Sandra Montgomery
Edited by Renee Laferriere