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Welcome to our stop on the City Quilts blog tour! We were thrilled to chat with the delightful author, Cherri House, about her book, her design process and the joys of being a creative entrepreneur.
Sarah & Josh: In City Quilts, one of the things we liked the most were the photographs of the city juxtaposed with your quilts. We’d love to hear about your design process, and how you use the city as inspiration for creating the quilts in City Quilts.
Cherri House: Part of the book submission process is to provide an index of what the quilts in the book would be. So, I just started writing down city things…anything city oriented made the list. Some things lent themselves to becoming quilts, much more than others. To a degree I had painted myself into a corner, because several great city names like City Park, and City Garden were names that I had already used in self-published patterns. For some of the quilts, I played with the names, to see if I could pull a quilt out it, and others, I had the quilt design, and needed a fitting name. For example City Shops – I had wanted to do a barcode quilt for a long time, so the name was a good fit. There were others that never got past the design stage – I wanted a City Hall quilt, made from red fabric strips, to replicate ‘red tape’. I still have about 20 more city quilts in me, waiting to be made.
S&J: And a follow-up to that question: How can people follow your lead, and use the world around them to inspire their creativity?
CH: 1. The first thing that someone may want/need to do is to avoid getting hung up on being too literal. You don’t have recreate something exactly; just recreate the essence of whatever the inspiration is to you. This is a sky quilt that I want to create, of course the sky isn’t rectangular blocks of various blues, but it is my interpretation of the sky .
2. Find something that inspires you, and use the tools you have (materials and skill set) to translate that into whatever medium you use. I use fabric, always and forever – it’s what I know, what I am comfortable with, and what I have an endless supply of. My daughter Lizzy might paint, draw, or fabricate something out of paper or fabric, because those are her materials. My daughter Ashlee would write a song, because she is a singer/songwriter, my daughter Melissa might write a song, create something from yarn, or fabric. If you are a woodworker use wood, if you are a welder, use metal. You use what you have, and what you know.
3. Don’t let the “appropriateness” of the source of inspiration hinder what actually inspires you. It’s kosher to be inspired by mountains, sunsets, the ocean, but a parking lot…who finds beauty there? Get rid of the thinking that only far away and often expensive places are inspiring – seek out beauty everywhere.
S&J: Your designs have a structural feel that we’d think would appeal to men (Josh loves your quilts!)—and so few sewing or quilting designs do (Denyse Schmidt’s work being a notable exception). Do you find that a lot of men connect with your designs?
CH: Yes they do! They seem to like the clean lines, and linear aspect of the designs. I’ve received several emails from quilters who are either architects, or have a male family member that is an architect that they want to make a quilt for. Scientists seem to like my designs as well – male and female.
I’m so curious when I receive a pattern order from a man, I think, “Is this for you, or your wife?” We need more male quilters!
S&J: Finally, we love hearing how people develop creative career paths and grow businesses doing what they love. How did you start on the path of designing quilts and making it a business?
CH: Since I started quilting for my own family in the 80s, all of the quilts that I made were from patterns that I created myself. I didn’t know that people bought patterns; I thought everyone worked the same way I did. Lizzy had been telling me for years that I needed to sell quilt patterns, but I thought it was a joke – I thought to myself, ‘who would buy a pattern?’ When Melissa, my youngest child left for college, loneliness and too much time sat in after about two weeks, and I decided to take the plunge and start a quilt pattern business. That was three years ago in June. For Cherry House Quilts the key to growing our business has been staying focused on our niche corner of the industry, of creating contemporary style quilt patterns using mostly solid fabrics. It has set us apart in that our quilts have a unique look, and appearance.
To celebrate the Cherri’s book, her publisher, C & T, is giving away a copy of City Quilts, and Robert Kaufman is giving away a nice stack of solid color fat quarters. We’re including a souvenir from our city, Portland–a few of Sarah’s original letterpress prints of the Steel Bridge which you can keep or give away. To win, please leave a comment letting us know what inspires you each day. A winner will be chosen randomly at the end of the blog tour.
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