Quilting Arts June/July 2010 issue has been on the newsstands for a few days now, so hopefully most of you have seen its fabulous cover quilt by Diane Nunez. The instant we saw this fun and funky art quilt with unusual embellishment techniques at the Quilting Arts office, we new it would be perfect for the cover of a summertime issue. And if you've had a chance to read Diane's article, "All About Dimension," on page 38, you may know that many of her quilts are characterized by this use of eclectic materials, bold colors, and a focus on dimensionality. Here, Diane shares a bit more about her unique approach to art quilting--and her favorite way to refresh during muggy summer months.
Your cover quilt for the June/July 2010 issue, “This Bud’s For You,” incorporates a Budweiser bottle cap. Does this mean you’re a fan of cool beer in this warm summer weather?
To be honest, I am more of a wine drinker. A friend of mine used to manage a tavern and collected a large bag of bottle caps for me. I used to use them in my jewelry design; I am very fond of found, printed metal. They have been sitting around for years and periodically I will pull them out and use them. The “Bud” just seemed to be appropriate for the center of the flower! Actually a nice, cold glass of ice tea with a sprig of mint sounds perfect to me for the summer.
What other unusual materials have incorporated into your quilts?
It depends on what you consider unusual! I am a big fan of collecting little found objects. Every once in a while some of these things find their way into my work. The glass bead on “This Bud’s For You” was a closure on one of the last gifts I received from my grandmother—to me it is precious. “Vertigo III,” also in the article, shows the wire mesh used as a base for a quilt. I experiment and use the wire mesh often. I have a quilt made primarily of different layers and types of the mesh, very transparent and subtle.
The hardware store is also a good place to find things—washers, wire, tubing, grommets, rubber pieces, Mylar, etc. They all find their way onto my work. I recycle a lot and this finds its way into my quilts. I will sketch out ideas and then experiment with materials (not just fabric) to find a way to execute them. I do not consider much of this unusual, just part of my working palette.
You are also a landscape architect. How did you come to art quilting from this field?
I have always liked to work with my hands, and especially to have something in them while I watch television to keep me from falling asleep. But I came to quilting in a roundabout way. I have tried everything from Japanese brushwork, needlepoint, papermaking, jewelry making, felting, macramé, garment sewing, and even sewing machine repair. When shopping for a sewing machine, I found a shop I really liked about an hour away from our home. They had free lessons, were located in the town where my son had just started college, and also had a block of the month club. So I took advantage of all of this.
For an initial investment of 5 dollars, I received fabric, directions, and a lesson on making a new type of block. When the completed block was brought back the next month, you received the next block for free. Plus I got to go out with my son for a meal and have a nice visit while there. I did get all twelve months completed and the quilt top assembled. To be honest, I did not like the final product (or colorways) but I learned. Working flat is not for me; I just feel that quilts need dimension.
As a landscape architect, I learned to draw and create two dimensionally, but all the while I am envisioning the project three dimensional since nothing ever gets built flat—the world around us is alive and dimensional.
You mention that you like to listen to audiobooks while sewing. Any recent favorites?
My favorite lately is “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. I also enjoyed Steig Larsson’s books, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I cannot wait to start his next book. Usually mysteries are my favorite!
What is your favorite summertime sewing activity?
I just seem to stitch along the same way regardless of the time of year. I go in spurts with what I work on. Last spring I took a dyeing class from Carol Soderlund at Nancy Crow’s Timber Frame Barn. I guess dyeing is more of a summertime activity—but since I live in Michigan, snow dyeing is now a new favorite winter activity also! I am going to be in a local art fair and am right now frantically producing items for that.