Observe: Quilt Art Inspiration from Jane LaFazio

Where do you get your inspiration for art quilts? Quilting artists get asked that question all the time.

Most artists I know have keen powers of observation. They take in the patterns of bricks and grids in the city, the shapes and colors of the garden, and the unusual (to them) motifs and architecture they see on their travels.

tree of life art quilt lafazio

Fiber artist Jane LaFazio has honed her observational skills well through art journaling, sketching, and painting. Consequently, she has an uncanny knack for combining textures and techniques that work together in mixed-media quilts.

Last month, Jane traveled again to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and I was fascinated by the images she posted on social media; they were full of color, pattern, life, and joy.In 2010, Jane talked with Quilting Daily about how her trips to Mexico have inspired a series of her quilt art and other fiber art.

Q. What about Mexico attracts you as an artist?

A. I'm very taken with the symbols and icons used in Mexican folk art. The Milagros, especially the heart shapes, the hand imagery, the Tree of Life…I love the warm colors of Mexico; cochinilla (a dye that creates many shades of red), indigo blue, and all the yellows and oranges. The cityscape in the form of colonial architecture, heavy doors with peeling paint and brass door knockers. The colors of the buildings! Turquoise, purple, and green! The woven textiles of rugs and shawls and belts. Love it!

Q. How do you incorporate these colors and textures into your art?

A. I use all of my tools and techniques to evoke the vibrancy of the culture in my art. I bring in symbols and imagery with carved stamps, hand stitching, and drawing. Color comes primarily from fabric–especially something very bright and tactile like woven textiles and felt–plus fibers and paints. A lot of the texture comes from embroidery, appliqué, beading, and metal embellishments in the form of wire, embossed tin, and charms. Pulling all those elements together in one piece is what brings the vibrancy to life.

lafazio recycled circles paper quilt
'Recycled Circles' paper quilt by Jane LaFazio.

Q. How do you keep the Mexican spirit alive when you're back home in your studio?

A. When I'm working in a Mexican theme, I draw from my journals kept on trips to San Miguel, Michoacán, and Oaxaca. I also have a collection of books featuring Mexican traditions and imagery that inspires and reminds me. Whether I'm creating a Tree of Life on paper with watercolor, collage and stitching or an art quilt made from Mexican-themed fabric and imagery,beads and Milagros, I always have a font of inspiration.

I've observed that repetitive geometric shapes–particularly circles–inspire many quilt artists. In fact, Jane is known for her series of fabric and paper quilts consisting of rearranged, stitched and embellished circles.

In our new  Stitching in Circles Machine Quilting Collection you can learn techniques for creating art quilts with circle motifs from Jane, Carol Taylor, and Libby Lehman. This collection is available for a limited time, so don't miss out on the chance to learn circular from three experts!

 

P.S. What inspires you? Leave your comment below.

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