Q. How did you get started in your medium?
A. How did I get started? Hmm. That’s a good question. I didn’t start sewing until I was well into my 20s. Up to that point, I was kind of afraid to use a sewing machine. Once I learned how, I tried making clothes for my daughters, but I hated the process so I didn’t sew again until I learned about quilt piecing a couple of years later. My mother taught me everything I know including how to read a pattern and how to execute the pattern into reality.
Q. What is the biggest influence on your art?
A. My biggest influence is actually whoever I’m creating the item for. I look at the age (child or adult) and I go from there. What do they like, what would make them happy? I don’t like using pastels for children, I prefer bright colors and patterns that will grab their attention. I also prefer to use patterns or coordinates that translate well into youth and not just for an infant. I only make things as gifts, so I like the finished product to be something that will evoke some kind of emotion.
Q. Did art play a role in your childhood? (Were you exposed to artists, did you enjoy making art)
A. Did art play a role in my childhood? Yes, in many different ways. My grandmother was an artist. Not only did she craft, and passed those skills to my mother and then myself, she was a painter. Seeing her paintings instilled an appreciation for art that I don’t think I could have gotten by simply seeing something in a book or on a television screen. I can now say that I have an open appreciation of all types of art. Crafting, painting, sculpture, all of it has in one way or another shaped what I do when I put fabric in my hands.
Q. Who is your favorite artist?
A. My favorite artist. Well, I don’t really have one honestly. It also depends on what medium we’re discussing. As a crafter, I have certain textile artists I prefer to use based on their fabric designs. I’m still learning my craft so I consider all established quilt designers to be quite an inspiration. As for classic art, I have a love for all things Van Gogh.
Q. How does art impact your life?
A. How does art NOT impact someone’s life? Whether we admit it or not, we are influenced every day by art. Do we wear a specific outfit because a designer featured it in a catalogue? That’s art. Do we arrange our furniture around a framed painting in our living room? Art. I tend to utilize specific fabrics, colors, and prints when I create a quilt. It is my canvas, so when I sit and decide what to do, I take a look around to see other works and how can I translate my image into something beautiful. It’s all art.
Q. What gives you the most joy?
A. What gives me the most joy? Gifting something I’ve made and seeing the recipients reaction. No question. A couple of my favorite reactions are when I watched a friend open a blanket I had made out of his father's shirts after he passed away suddenly. Seeing a young friend open not one but TWO quilts I made for her twin baby boys. My favorite was watching a mom's reaction when I gave her and her daughter matching blankets. She had asked me to make her daughter one out of her high school tee shirts. She had so many shirts I was able to use the front of the shirts for the daughter, and then used the back of the shirts for her mom...as a surprise.
Q. What do you do when you make a mistake?
A. Oh when I make a mistake, I usually get quite annoyed. Mostly because my mistakes are often times avoidable. Maybe I sewed a block upside down. Or the wrong side of the fabric is facing up. A good seam ripper is a quilter's best friend and worst enemy. The same is true in cross-stitching (something else I do). Sometimes you just have to slow down because a mistake usually comes when you’re going too fast. I’ll just take out the stitches, re-center myself, and try again.
All of the above images are copyright Stephanie Burns and shared here with permission.
Try it Yourself
Make a nine patch quilt block with Jackie White.
You will need:
3 or more different woven cotton fabrics (you can buy fat quarters for under $2 each, small bundles of quilting fabric, or use old items from around the house like: boxers, aprons, button down dress shirts, cotton sheets, etc.)
sharp scissors or rotary cutter and cutting mat
pencil or marker if using scissors
sewing machine or sewing needle