I was standing at the grocery store check out with my mom. Oscar was 18 months old and I was about to return to Sydney after a 3 month visit with my parents in Ohio and I saw it...this yellow dresser. It caught my eye as we had a dresser with the same handles in our family home and I thought how beautiful it would be painted such a happy color. I picked up the magazine and had a leaf through the pages with growing interest. Back in those days I had just discovered quilting as a stay at home mom living in a new country, Australia. I had never heard of Martha Stewart but immediately fell in love with the photographs and ideas in the magazine. And then, I saw it...the story on Denyse Schmidt. Call it a massive girl crush but I immediately thought she was just about the coolest gal I had ever seen. There she stood with her bits of fabric, the iron and some funky off kilter blocks. I was hypnotized by what I saw and I can say now that I was forever changed as an artist. What she was doing made perfect sense to me even though I had no idea what it was...I just knew I connected with the crooked lines, I got that! Hot contrasting colors...well that was way more interesting than blending pink roses! Further images in the story revealed buckets of fabric scraps organized by color. A simple dip into the bucket took the maker half way to the destination with surprise and discovery built into every step of the way. This was new...it was interesting and it had to be devoured!
Eventually I tore out the pages of the magazine and pinned them to my design wall. All I knew was that some day I wanted to grow to be a quilter like the magic woman with so much vision I could see in the photo....move over Madonna...I had a new idol! Back in those days I don't even think I had a computer. The idea of google images was soon to come but I had to stare at the same photo for years before I could learn more about what I was seeing. I kept the story on my wall for years to remind me to be brave...be different.
I have to ask myself if any of us would be where we are today without the vision of this artist? The sophisticated designs allowed us to consider line in a new way void of light, medium and dark. The minimalist nature of the works allowed us to break free from structure and form into space all the while without loosing the sense of traditional style we all loved. This contemporary approach to interpreting tradition resonated with me and so many others. We collectively fell in love with Denyse and all she did.
Drunk Love wasn't just the name of a quilt...it was the beginning of a movement.
The quilt designs were one thing but as a shop owner I have grown to depend on Denyse to deliver fabric ranges that are useful as well as creative. They speak to me on level that can't be denied. My personal tendency is to go for a mix of designer fabrics when making quilts and am happiest starting with large scale poly chromatic prints and build a palette from there. However, I always find that the sensible, emotive nature of Denyse Schmidt ranges means I am happy to work within the restrictions of a range. My mind always wanders when working with her fabrics to places I want to be. For example, my Sunburst quilt from Making Quilts was a path to images of my grandmothers home.
So, fast forward a few decades and many quilts and ranges to now. I am so happy to say that Denyse Schmidt will be coming to Australia! This is a special event and one that we are thrilled to be able to share with The Creative Retreats in Canberra and Amitie Textiles in Melbourne. Details will be released soon but we can say we will be hosting Denyse at Material Obsession 7-10 September 2017 and we have a special secret built in as well! Stay tuned for more details. We have set up a list of expressions of interest until we finalize the details but this is an event you won't want to miss!