This blog post was inspired by my friend and mentor Brenda Gael Smith. She started a series of blog posts Creative Backstory where she is reflecting on what she has learned since she made her first baby quilt 20 years ago. Since then Brenda became a world known quilt artist, teacher, mentor and curator. Brenda asked everybody to share their creative backstories, and I am going to look back just at one moment in my creative backstory.
I know exactly when my journey as a quilter and quilt artist began. It was 1997 when I made my first quilt. I didn’t have any tools, nor I knew what tools were appropriate and available in the world. Quilting has never been a traditional Lithuanian craft. We didn’t even have the name for what we call skiautiniai now. Luckily internet was already available, and I was able to search and learn.
My first quilts were traditional, but soon I learned that they can also be art, and hang on walls instead of covering beds. I decided to make my first art quilt. The idea was to use only Lithuanian made fabrics and traditional Lithuanian design.
Finding fabrics was not easy but I found few. For the design close to my heart were designs used to decorate Lithuanian dowry chests. For the technique I used needle turn applique in the way I understood it then. Here is the entire quilt:
For a long time I felt ashamed looking at my creation. Later I understood it was just one step forward to where I am now. The applique wasn’t perfect, stitches were way too long, and red circles were not perfectly round:
Even worse was that all the quilting knots were visible on the back:
This quilt was made in 2000. I learned a lot since then. My needle turn applique technique has improved, and I learned how to hide the knots.
I gave this quilt as a gift to my late husband Daniel in 2001, and after he passed away, and I moved back to live in Lithuania in 2013, I brought it back, so I still have it. I will keep it as a witness to my creative journey, because there is another significant point attached to it as well.
This was just one moment in my creative backstory. I may look back again sometime in the future. For now I just want to thank Brenda and Daiva for taking me back in time.