Featured Quilter of the Week @andersondesignworks
Kari Anderson (@andersondesignworks) has recently made her way to the quilting world, and she has brought an exciting bag of tricks with her from the architecture world. Kari is experimenting with modern quilt making by giving herself design assignments and chronicling her journey on her new blog, Anderson Design Works.
All photos courtesy of Kari Anderson (@andersondesignworks)
What inspired you to start making quilts?
When I was taking a break from teaching architecture when my daughter was born, I needed something to do that was just for me that I could do at home in little bits of time. I had never made a full quilt before, but I found a quilt top that I had sewn together when I was a teenager. I decided to finish it, and while doing so I kept coming up with design ideas I wanted to try. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that quilt-making could bring together interests I’ve had throughout my life: sewing as both a craft and art medium, drawing with thread, repetitive pattern, systems and organization, science and technology. There are so many things I want to try and layers to explore in quilt-making!
Do you use any tools or techniques influenced by your architecture background?
Yes, definitely! I feel that my whole process comes from my architecture background, as do as my tools.
I like to explore pattern systems that are repetitive but allow for variation. When working in architecture, we tend to develop systems of parts that can be adjusted for different situations. One might think about this in terms of the detail of how building materials connect, or the way spaces might relate to one another. This kind of system keeps visual and experiential cohesion even when putting together all the parts that go into making a building.
In teaching, we often have the students start with a series of small explorations from which they can develop increasingly complex organizations. I like to work this way because it allows for discovery of ideas and can lead to unexpected creations. It also promotes the idea that design takes time and work; it doesn’t arrive in your head as a fully formed image. This is actually similar to the way that quilters will work first with blocks and then explore various options when putting blocks together.
I also like to work with patterns that extend beyond the borders of the quilt. I think of them almost like geological landscapes. Something that is always important in teaching architecture is to get students to consider the surroundings as well as the object of architecture. Some of my favorite assignments are the ones where we ask the students to actually design a ground prior to making a building. I tend to see the patterns I make in this way, and therefore the lines suggest continuation beyond the borders I choose to give them.
I do want to add that I owe a lot of my way of working to professors, teachers, and friends that I have worked for and with. I’m adding links to two websites of people who have been particularly influential to me. The first is a professor I worked for who has now moved on to the position of Dean of the Architecture School at RPI in upstate New York. The second is a friend I worked and taught with in New York City, who is doing some very interesting projects. I think the work of both of these practices is quite exciting, and it may be interesting (and surprising!) to others to check out.
Evan Douglis Studio
MKCA (website in progress, check out link on site to FB and Instagram feeds to see work)
As far as tools, I sketch a little bit, but mostly use software. I usually design in Illustrator because it is so quickly visual that I can easily explore multiple variations by copying pattern pieces and using the transform tools. I also use it to make pattern templates. I would prefer to use AutoCAD for this due to its dimensional ease, but unfortunately my old copy of the program on a different computer so I use it much less than I’d like.
Lastly, my trusty cork-backed metal straight-edge is what I use for lining up cuts in fabric. I used to made models with it in Grad school!
How has giving yourself design assignments on your blog changed your creative process?
Giving myself assignments gives importance to the experiments, tests, studies and the process of learning techniques that occur prior to a final design. I think these things are so useful for growing, but without the assignment I can rush through that stage with the desire to get to the final quilt. It helps me produce work that I didn’t imagine ahead of time, which I find exciting. I intend to continue to use the assignments to challenge myself.
As a new blogger, what has surprised you the most about blogging?
I am still very new to blogging and haven’t fully worked out my intentions, but what has surprised me is that blogging is making me accountable to something: it pushes me to work on a regular basis. Although it has been slow going, I really do see it as my work –in a good way, and therefore I give it importance in my life. I am really happy about this because I’m starting to consider how quilt-making can become something beyond a hobby.
Congratulations on your first place win at QuiltCon 2016! Other than winning, what was the highlight of the conference for you?
Thank you! It was thrilling to be acknowledged in my first show amongst all those amazing quilts. It made me feel so encouraged to keep going with the work I am doing.
I definitely loved getting to see all the quilts in person. The beauty, ideas, and skill presented were wonderful. But the highlight for me had to be the four classes I took. I don’t have practice or knowledge of techniques when it comes to quilt-making – I’ve really just been making it up as I go along. I do think the more one knows, the better, and its always fun to learn new things. I learned a ton and met very inspiring people. I talk about the classes I took in a brief blog post.
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