CMQG Workshop: 15 Minutes of Play with Victoria Findlay Wolfe

July 21, 2013
 15 Minutes of Play 
A workshop with Victoria Findlay Wolfe

Victoria highlights her “made fabrics” in this contemporary twist on hexagons.
The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild hosted QuiltCon 2013  Best-In-Show Winner Victoria Findlay Wolfe for a day long workshop in June.   About two dozen members were in attendance for a day filled with laughter, fellowshop, and of course, quilting!

The day began with a lecture and trunk show of Victoria’s amazing quilts.    If your thinking “oooh, lecture…boring”, well think again.   This gifted quilter and designer is as engaging and humorous as she is creative.   She treated attendees to a history of both her life and creative influences.   She shared her memories of  growing up in a 100 year old farmhouse with wood-stove heating.   This made having several layers of quilts available a necessity, rather than a decor choice. We we treated to her stories of watching her grandmother piece together random bits of “Fingerhut” polyester (shudder!) remnants with her stiff arthritic hands, in no specific pattern.  With an understanding of her childhood on a Midwest working farm, and close relationship with her grandmother,  the genius of her quilts took on an ever deeper meaning.

What do you do with blocks that just don’t seem to work together?  THIS.

Unafraid to share both her successes, her misses and her fails,  Victoria illustrated her artistic journey away from  and then back to quilting with over a dozen incredible quilts.   Seeing her creative evolution from her first pastel 9-patch baby quilt to her Best-In-Show entry to QuiltCon 2013 was a rare treat.    Along the way, she shared several projects that were challenging, did not turn out as hoped for, and a few she simply hated.

What could be better than GIANT hexies?

One of the focuses of her lecture was on squeezing in time to be creative and productive in a busy life.   When family and job responsibilities threatened to eliminate any time to just sew, Victoria hit on an idea:   devote just 15 minutes a day to making one small achievable thing. Thus, she was able to build a stash of blocks using her “made fabric” technique. Before long, she had enough for a quilt.  

Demonstrating her “made-fabric” techniques.
After listening to Victoria, everyone was eager to start trying some new ideas.  Victoria took this time to stop at each quilters area to check on their progress, answer question, and encourage them.   We were all truly amazed by her desire to engage us and inspire us to step out of our own quilting “box”.

Fabric scraps donated by Victoria

After a bit of work using these new techniques, our stomachs were grumbling. Catering by our own member Beth K provided a delicious and healthy lunch. It was great to have some extra time to sit, eat and relax rather than trying to scrounge for food in a new neighborhood. It gave us time to meet new quilters, and catch up with old friends.    Yet, we were all eager to get back to work:

the dreaded “Novelty” fabric!

Samples of made fabric by our members:

  As we worked, Victoria again make time to stop by every station, to see how each quilter was doing.   It was clear she found a connection with each of us, even in such a short time.    

Victoria demonstrates the “Y” seam technique
And suddenly, the day was over.     This was definitely one of the most powerful workshops I’ve attended.   Even though it had been a long day, and it was late, no one was in a hurry to pack up.   No one seemed eager to break up the mood of creativity and community that grew in the room that day. 

I’d like to share some of  take home messages that stuck strongly with me;
1.   Be creative every day, even just 15 minutes can be meaningful if you are consisitent
2. You are NOT required to love everything you make; if you don’t like the result, change it.  
3. It’s OK not to get it right the first time – just don’t give up.
4. Try something new, even if you are afraid, and even if it’s just a small change.
CMQG member Ebony puts her own individual spin on new techniques.

To learn more about Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s work, visit her blog,  or her website.

For members who are thinking about attending a retreat, I hope this gives you a flavor of our day. If not, Victoria made a v-blog post for us!  And I hope you consider coming along to an CMGQ workshop or retreat soon.   

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Photo: Triangles quilt by Erika Mulvenna