The creative process of successful artists intrigues me. Years ago, I attended a lecture and workshop with Kaffe Fassette at the Art Museum of Boston, and one thing he said has stuck with me.
I don’t have a direct quote, but here are his paraphrased sentiments: “To move ahead, you have to do the work. Many people love textiles, they talk about it, work for awhile, then stop for a cup of tea. The fact is that your creative growth will move ahead exponentially when you do more and more work. You may not like all of it, but you have likely learned something and can move to the next level.”
Carol Taylor is an example of this kind of creative work and development. She is prolific. She does The Work. The fact is that she spends much of her time in the studio, creating her latest series. Recently I had a chance to talk with Carol about her work, and I think her insights will be interesting for anyone in the fiber arts realm.
Tell me about why you work in series. How did that habit start, and when do you know you are finished with a series?
Working in a series is good because too often quilters try to put all of their current ideas into one quilt, and it turns out a mishmash. I like writing down all the ideas that come to me while working on a quilt and then making each one separately.
I have a whole lecture on this topic and talk about each of my series. I can base a series on a technique or a motif, or making up certain restrictions for the series and allowing myself a certain number of colors, or a certain size, for example. I sometimes only make three quilts in a series and know that's all I want to do, and in others go on and on.
The Gong series has 39 quilts in it and I quit because I had about run out of ideas of how to use this motif in different sizes and arrangements and because I got too good at the motif and was making perfect circles instead of funky more charming ones that weren't so perfect. I also added the Confetti pieces to this quilt and used them for the first time and was excited about making those a series of their own.
What strikes you as a theme worth exploring?
I'm not so literal on themes or having big meanings behind a quilt. I just have to like the shapes and form them into a pleasing composition.
Who (or what) inspires you?
Definitely nature, especially with my current Foliage Series. I think it is a matter of just always looking around and keeping your eyes out for what attracts you enough to want to make a quilt.
What was your most recent series?
The Foliage Series always based on leaves with two layers. The background is pieced and then the leaves are added and satin stitched around on top of it. Then I sandwich and quilt a lot of texture into the background. Take a look at my website for examples. The one before that was Arc-i-Textures, my made up word because the background is again about texture and the "arcs" are the circles. .
Can you tell us the story behind how your work was chosen for the Sesame Street episode with Katie Couric?
I got an email from the gal who was doing their set decoration and looking for something to soften the walls-my quilts. I sent her photos of all the ones with the colors she was looking for and they "rented" the quilts to be in Katie's loft from me for those two days of production. I was able to go and watch it all and meet Elmo and it was fascinating to see what goes into a television production. The loft they shot in was fantastic and my quilts looked spectacular there.
Click here to return to the Articles & Interviews index.