Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Artist Investigation: A Flurry of Floral Fantasy

Jaggie here! It's time for our Artist Investigation and I had so much fun playing in the flowers with this month's artist. Carol Morrissey, of O'Carol Designs,  is crazy about quilts and crazy about designing quilt patterns! (Her words! We're not calling her crazy!)
Carol's quilt designs brings the beauty of nature inside so you can enjoy it year-round. Her floral designs are a collage of bright colors! Earlier this week, I got to sit down with Carol and talk about her art and inspirations.
Jaggie: Tell us, how you got started in quilting?
Carol: I started quilting out of necessity. In 1985 or so, my close friend was expecting her first grandchild and I needed a special gift but couldn't really afford anything fancy so I thought, "I'll make a baby quilt." After all, I'd been sewing clothes since I was eleven, so I thought I could surely make a quilt. Looking back, it was pretty dreadful--big rectangles of pastel pinks and blues with an eyelet ruffle around the edge! But my friend loved it and so did the baby. After that first one, I made two more baby quilts, each with over 700 half-square triangles, so I guess I was officially hooked on quilting.
Jaggie: How did you transition into the applique and fusible applique arts?
Carol: When I began designing patterns, I saw a need for some large scale, dramatic flower designs, and since I didn't have the time or the inclination to do handwork, fusible applique was the answer.
Jaggie: Who influenced you artistically from the start and is there anyone you learned about later who has impacted your creativity?
Carol: My mother, who is 84, has always been artistic and she still oil paints. I remember her drawing with inks, pastels, charcoal, and pencils, so there were lots of supplies around when I was growing up. My mother and my grandmothers made quilts and sewed clothes, too, so I was always exposed to lots of creative expression in various media. I've always painted and drawn and studied art. There are so many people who have impacted my creativity, both in the quilting world and not, that it would be impossible for me to list them all. I'd have to say that my husband, Mike, has been the biggest influence because he has always encouraged me and appreciated my efforts.
Jaggie: I see that you like to do florals, when did you start creating patterns and what inspires you? Have you always gravitated towards nature, or did you try other themes first? Have you tried others since or are you comfortable with where the nature takes you?
Carol: I started my pattern company in 2004, although I had been creating original quilt designs for a number of years before that. Nature is a big part of my life and always has been. As a child, I loved to go exploring in the woods, gathering feathers, flowers, nests, bugs, butterflies--well, just about anything that wouldn't bite me. While I appreciate and enjoy traditional patchwork, I always seem to return to nature themes.

Wildflower Bouquet
Jaggie: What do you do to relax?
Carol: I'm a gardener and if it's not too hot, as it often is in Texas, I enjoy working in the yard. I'm also a photographer, and I often go outside in the mornings to photograph whatever is blooming in the yard. Naturally, I enjoy sewing and also quilting on my longarm.
Jaggie: If you could sit down and teach one celebrity or historical figure to quilt, who would it be?
Carol: Now that's a question that really made me think! I could name a dozen, but I'll go with Andy Warhol just because I'd like to see what he'd do. Yeah, definitely Andy Warhol ... or Mick Jagger ... or Benjamin Franklin.
Jaggie: What is your favorite color(s) to quilt with?
Carol: I am drawn to warm colors ~ yellow, orange and red ~ but I am trying to embrace blues and greens, especially since blue is the complement of orange, and green is the complement of red. I am still trying to give purple a chance, but it's hard.

Georgetown Poppies
Jaggie: What is one project you've maybe wanted to try but haven't?
Carol: An elaborately longarm quilted, hand-dyed, whole cloth quilt.
Jaggie: How has the Appliqué Pressing Sheet influenced your quilting/designing? How have you seen the Appliqué Pressing Sheet impact the quilting industry?
Carol: When I teach fusible applique workshops, there are usually a couple of people who admit that they have never used their Applique Pressing Sheet. Well, that's kind of what happened to me when I got mine. 

I saw it being demonstrated somewhere so I had to have it, but then I didn't really "get it" for a while. When I started designing fusible applique patterns, and I started using it, I realized how it simplified the assembly, particularly if there were a lot of little pieces in the pattern. People get excited when see how much easier it is to assemble multiple layers of fusible applique. 

When I write my pattern directions, I am thinking about the layering sequence and assembling the design in groups of pieces, and the process is so easy if the quilter uses the Applique Pressing Sheet rather than trying to fuse directly to the background fabric. I also use it to protect surfaces from fabric inks and paints.

Prickly Pear in Bloom

 It was so fun to sit down with this artist and learn more about her process and inspirations. And really, who doesn't love these flowers!?! You can learn more about Carol at her website. And remember, if you are working on, or have completed an O'Carol Designs project, post pictures on our Facebook page. We'd love to see them!

(Editor's Note: Blogger is still acting sluggish and wouldn't allow this to be posted yesterday, on schedule. Please be patient as we wait for Blogger to fix these issues.)

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