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Finding Clarity of Vision With Quiltfolk Adventure Workshops

Have you ever thought about how you would describe yourself as a quilt block? It is worth a moment or two of your time—and is especially good fun to discuss with crafty friends in your bee or local guild. Adventure Workshop Co-Host Kay is a self-confessed Log Cabin: thriving on order and a bit square. Together, we concluded that I am more of a crazy Victorian patchwork: mixing all the fabrics in organised chaos and very eclectic. Perhaps that is why we have a wonderful friendship, best stitched as a perfectly balanced half-square triangle!

Every quilter (and quilt block!) is unique, but it is easy to fall into making projects that feel generic—and to form quilting habits that provide comfort, but not necessarily true connection. A very genuine frustration for a lot of people, including myself, is how to put one’s own personal stamp on a finish. 

Kay Walsh (a self-confessed Log Cabin) and Jenni Smith (crazy Victorian patchwork) on location in Scotland. 

What Is Your Signature Style?

During our Adventure Workshop travels, the experts to which we are drawn and with which we collaborate all have what I can only describe as clarity of vision, a signature style—which means you could walk into a room and instantly know who had made or designed the quilt before you. You smile at the beauty of their work, admiring a familiarity of line that shows their hand or a colour palette that could only be theirs. You quietly celebrate (and perhaps feel a little envious) that they have discovered their artistic voice. For me, it is the holy grail of creativity, and I feel like we are starting to uncover some of the secrets to this formula with every new experience we film. 

In Scenic Scotland, we immersed ourselves in the world of textile artist Sheena Norquay for several days, and what a luxury it is to have time to absorb a person’s creative process firsthand in the spaces in which they feel most comfortable and at home. Though the cameras can be nerve-wracking, as each hour passes, our experts begin to reveal their authentic selves. So, by day three, strolling along Nairn beach with Sheena—observing the rocks, birds, and sand patterns—was like stepping into one of her atmospheric seascapes and seeing everyday objects with fresh eyes. All of the crew felt it, acknowledged it, and it was truly enlightening. Hearing the thought process behind constructing original works from the maker, with all the delicious details, is invaluable and something we strive to share with each of you every time we produce a Quiltfolk workshop. 

Jenni Smith’s Quilted Seascape inspired by the beaches of Hawaii.

An inspiring teacher sparks curiosity in their student so that they can then forge their own path. And I left the Highlands feeling confident enough to use Sheena’s expertise and step-by-step tutorials to make something with personal meaning to me—one move closer to that clarity of vision, and I have just put the final stitches on my own Quilted Seascape. 

I think my hand-written label describes it well:

A wonderful project which made me feel truly happy with every design choice, step and stitch.

L-R: Sheena Norquay, detail shot of one of her quilts

We have experienced the same generosity of spirit—folks willing to share knowledge and skills developed over many years to help us all grow—with Mary Jenkins in Wales, Hubert Valeri in Paris, and Pat Gorelangton in Hawaii. All of which we captured firsthand on location to bring you the most authentic experience and give you a view into the experts’ creative minds.

Finding a clarity of vision is not easy, but I believe that the more we practice and challenge ourselves outside of our quilting comfort zone, the better. The more we open ourselves up to new people and sewing techniques, the more inspiration we have to draw upon when we take that leap beyond our fail-safe quilt block or pattern. Without a doubt, the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. ring true:

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” 

So, now we would love to know: If you were a quilt block, which one would you be? Email your response to jenni@quiltfolk.com and we will share them at a later date.

And, if you haven’t already, be sure to join our upcoming Adventure Workshop Scenic Scotland: Stitching the Highlands to put your signature style on a one-of-a-kind Quilted Seascape!

Sneak Peek at Scenic Scotland: Stitching the Highlands

Behind the scenes in Scotland, Chris and James need a little more height to get the perfect shot of Sheena Norquay’s seascape.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jenni Smith is a quilter and author of Quilting with Liberty Fabrics and has been a Quiltfolk Workshops host since 2021.

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