It only takes two traditional blocks to create a complex quilt. Claudia Olson's book, 15 Two-Block Quilts, deconstructs the process of creating two-block quilts, and provides 15 projects to put the process into practice. Read on to learn more about this quilt teacher-turned-author in the following interview from Quiltmaker magazine.
How did you decide to make quiltmaking a career? What led you in that direction?
I found that I love designing quilt patterns. Figuring out the piecing and fabric requirements was no problem, so I tried writing a few patterns. A wonderful group of ladies from my guild agreed to make the patterns, and they made it possible for me to start working on a book. I have always loved writing and have always wanted to write a book, so it was kind of a fulfillment of a dream I've had. I am now working on my second quilting book. Defining it as a career seems kind of strange to me though. I would define it more as a learning, refining, and stretching process for the creative part of me.
What inspires your work? How do new ideas come to you in quiltmaking?
The creative process is kind of hard to describe. I definitely have times when I feel like I am bursting with creativity. When that happens, I can go to my computer or note pad and ideas will literally rush onto the page. Other times I need to have a jump start by looking at issues of magazines that show photos from quilt shows. I like to look at quilts and think "What if the quilter had done that differently?" Believe it or not, I get inspired by seeing innovative designs that use unusual combinations of blocks or unusual use of space. Sometimes, I will get great ideas by looking at patterns and experimenting with the pieces that go into two or more different blocks.
What did you enjoy most about writing your book 15 Two-Block Quilts? Any lessons learned?
I enjoyed two things greatly. They are the design process and working with all the great quilters who contributed to the book, both in the quiltmaking and the editing. The creative design process is a blast, but getting to know and make new friends is truly one of life's biggest blessings.
I suppose one of the biggest lessons learned is to listen and be ready to accept new ideas. There are many changes and revisions that occur during the year when the book is being made. An author has to be ready to change the way she does things much of the time and accept another quilter's comments graciously.
If you could offer one piece of advice for quiltmakers today, what would it be?
Listen to ideas from everyone that you can and learn from those in your quilting circles. There is always someone who knows how to do something differently than we do. The quiltmaking of today is changing very quickly and new, exciting ways are constantly coming along to make our craft more enjoyable. Also, be willing to help other quilters who are just getting started. There are so many ladies wanting to start our craft and it is fulfilling to get involved in their learning process. Be willing to share with everyone and you will be blessed in turn.
Claudia Olson's 15 Two-Block Quilts explores the process involved in creating a quilt from two traditional blocks and is available from C&T Publishing.