Just as I am, many people are interested in the background of those who chose to embark on a particular path of life. I suppose it helps us understand what’s behind the madness of our passion, more about one’s footprint, or perhaps just to find some common threads that endear a relationship. In this brief narrative of my backstory, I’ve tried to give insight to why I decided to pull together my professional experience and personal interests to develop the Quilter Exchange & Fiber Art Studio.
I lived in an Indiana town until the age of a 18, a rural farming and manufacturing community. As I grew up my grandmother shared her passion of sewing and quilting with me. My favorite teacher was my Home Economics teacher who took the skills and interest I gained from my grandmother to a new level. I wanted to become a fashion designer or merchandiser when I grew up. As it happens to many, I didn’t actually reach that dream. When I left high-school I went to Indiana State University and then Indiana University to study the more practical Home Economics Education (my backup in case I didn’t get to that job in fashion design). I completed all the classes offered in clothing construction and fashion merchandising. And, I did make it through half of my practical experience teaching high school home economics before deciding teaching teen-age kids was not for me. After 3 years of college, I quit school and married my high school sweetheart instead. Three years later my first son came along, and with another five years my second son was born.
After 17 years, life changes took me back to school to study fine arts, business and information technology to finish my Bachelors degree. Knowing that I might not be prepared for a good paying job with this eclectic education, I continued on to complete a Masters in Education with a focus on Instructional Design and Human Performance Technology and eventually a Doctorate in Education. I wanted to design instruction for adult learners.
With my career launched I ended up working as an instructional designer, computer and web application designer, and project manager and work team leader for some great companies. At that time, Hewlett Packard and IBM were fortune 100 leaders were innovating new technologies, one of them being Internet-based applications (Yep, that dates me.). I worked with the team to move paper documentation online for HP. As a consultant for IBM I worked with a lot of different companies to design their Internet and Intranet websites and help systems. I also worked for U.S. Bank as they were bringing their user interface online and starting up card services. I worked for St. Jude Medical as they collaborated with a number of other companies to build an online exchange to purchase medical supplies. And, I worked as a consultant for several other companies to develop instructional programs for their employees and customers. These were incredible times and I’m honored to have been a technology pioneer.
I have sustained my passion for quilting for over 30 years. As I focused on building a career and getting two sons through college quilting took a back seat for many years. Yet throughout that time, quilting provided a mindful respite of creativity and calm. My career path came full circle when I finally had the opportunity to take my passion for quilting to a professional level. I became an Associate Editor, Managing Editor and finally the Group Editorial Director for the Quilting Company at F+W Media (F+ W Media assets became part of Golden Peak Media and The Quilting Company is now Quilting Daily online.). As such, I was involved in the publication of 10 quilting magazines. My experience with the Quilting Company was heaven for a lifelong quilter.
The concept for Quilter Exchange & Fiber Art Studio came to me in 2005, when I worked at St. Jude Medical. I clearly remember the idea coming to me as I was driving, taking the exit off I35 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I had just left an organizational meeting for a medical exchange group. Spinning from this concept, my original idea for a business was to create an online space for quilters and quilt shops to exchange knowledge, ideas and products. Many years later, I still think this is a great idea, and since then others, obviously, have too. On hindsight, I totally blew the opportunity. I didn’t have the time or funds to put all my energy into the business at that time and opted to work in the more lucrative technology industries instead. Life takes you on a lot of side trips, and I accept that mine did. Although…I still have a little fire burning that says “don’t give up”. I just felt I had to elect to take a sure income, not feeling I had the discretionary resources to take time and dollars to build a business. Even though I could kick myself for not pursuing it earlier, I’ve accepted the time between concept and implementation wasn’t wasted. I’ve dabbled in the Quilter Exchange & Fiber Arts Studio as a business over the years, actually getting the company online in 2013 (See original introductory blog post here.) And, I still have some ideas percolating …
I’m proud to say I’m a published quilt designer and author, having designed my own quilts for 20 years. In addition to working with fabric designed by others I enjoy hand dyeing and printing the fabric I use. I love all genres of quilting: traditional, modern and art quilts, and I particularly enjoy hand applique, working with a mix of substrate fibers and adding embellishments to create art quilt-like designs with a traditional foundation. I’ve come to look at my quilts as my artistic expression, embodying creativity, along with my need for structure and organization. I’m in my zone as I begin with a concept taken from nature, the world around me, or gain inspiration from a theme or special event that just begs for a quilt. My creative synergy evolves as the design becomes a final product.
On the personal side I’m very blessed to be the mom of two successful sons, sharing their lives with beautiful well-grounded women whom I consider to be family and friends. I can go on and on forever about my four totally awesome grandchildren, two girls and two boys that I cherish time with. You’ll see them in an occasional photo, and often influencing the subject of a quilt project. I’m incredibly fortunate to be married to a wonderfully supportive and loving husband who also works in the technology industry and has a passion for music. We enjoy gourmet cooking, rides on the Harley, Jeep drives in the mountains, traveling to discover new places together, quiet evenings together, and most importantly time with family and friends. We live in a mountain town in Colorado with our sweet Weimaraner.