Why Quilts Matter – Question & Answer with Denyse Schmidt
Many questions in the Why Quilts Matter Discussion Guide focus on the changes and future of the art of quilting. Who better to answer those questions than Denyse Schmidt, a quilter, former graphic designer, and graduate of Rhode Island School of Design.
Denyse has been sewing since she was a young girl. As a professional seamstress, Denyse worked on everything from tutus and bishop’s mitres to fine clothing. She brings these eclectic influences together in patchwork quilts characterized by simple graphics, rich color, and quality workmanship.
What kind of changes have you seen in quilting since you got involved?
I started out creating quilts for the interior design industry because I didn’t feel that the quilts I wanted to make would fit into the prevailing trends of the quilt industry 17 years ago. Today, it feels quite different. For instance, it was quite difficult back then to buy solid fabrics, and today they are everywhere, as well as loads of books devoted to quilting with solids! The last few years we have seen a younger demographic take up the craft with great enthusiasm and a broad range of styles, which is exciting and essential for the life and preservation of the craft.
How do you feel about a quilt that is poorly crafted but visually stunning?
I am more attracted by the visuals than by the craft. This doesn’t mean that I don’t value craftsmanship, I do. But anyone can hone their skills over time, while a natural ability to create something with a unique point of view is more rare.
What do you think is the future of quilting? Will traditional patterns remain an important staple of the genre or will studio art quilts gradually dominate?
I think that traditional patterns will always be a part of the mix. They have been around a long time, and are a vital, living history of the medium. To me the core and essence of the craft is that one simple geometric pattern can – in the hands of each individual quilter – take on an infinite number of variations. What I love about quilting is that by nature it is open to every interpretation of the form – from beginner to expert, traditional to modern, historical reproduction to the use of patchwork in art.
What is next for you?
I continue to design several fabric collections each year, through my partnerships with FreeSpirit Fabrics and Fabric Traditions. Each year I add to our line-up of DSQ-brand quilt patterns. I am working on quilts for a show at the National Quilt Museum in October 2013, which I’m very excited about! I continue to teach on the road and in my studio – both my Improvisational Patchwork workshop and classes based on the projects in my latest book, Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration.
More about Denyse Schmidt
Denyse’s work has been published in hundreds of distinguished magazines and newspapers world wide, including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Magazine, American Craft, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes & Gardens, and Town & Country. Her couture, custom quilts, in production since 1996, are pieced to order in her studio and hand-quilted by Amish women. More about her books, quilts and fabric can be found on her website at Denyse Schmidt Quilts.