Janet Jo Smith
Janet Jo Smith is an artist, author, editor and attorney specializing in copyright law, with a passion for hand-dying fabrics and making quilts. Over the years she's learned that she is a quiltmaker–and quilting is not just what she does, it's who she is.
Read more about Janet Jo in this interview from Quiltmaker magazine, and on her website, dyesmithy.com.
How did you decide to make working with quilts a career? What led you in that direction?
The career came about gradually. When I was practicing law, I got up early in the morning so I could work on a quilt before going into the office. I was usually late to the office! After leaving my practice, I quilted more and began dyeing fabric. I dyed so much fabric that I had to sell some to make room for more. That's when my business, DyeSmithy, began. Sherri Driver thought my hand-dyes would look great with the plaids she loves to use, and we began designing patterns together. I also love to write, so I got a job as an editor with Quilter's Newsletter. Eventually, all of these activities led to teaching, lecturing, and designing quilts for magazines.
What inspires your work? How do new ideas come to you in quiltmaking?
Like all quilters, I just love color and graphic shapes. Sometimes I just play with fabrics on my design wall, and something comes together. But I find it easier to create when I am given a challenge–a block exchange or a contest theme to inspire me.
We know you have a hand-dyed fabric business. How does working with hand-dyes differ from working with commercial fabrics? Does it affect the way you design and make quilts?
When I set myself that goal of making a quilt primarily of hand-dyed fabric, it tends to be a more innovative design. Cotton Boll is the first traditional quilt I have made entirely of hand-dyes, and I really love how that worked out too. But I find that I can combine hand-dyes with all types of commercial fabrics, and that they work well in any quilt style.
If you could offer one piece of advice to quiltmakers today, what would it be?
Make the quilts you love, and remember that all rules are made to be broken!
Janet Jo Smith's Cotton Boll quilt appears in the July/August 2006 issue of Quiltmaker magazine.