Sharyn is teaching class 7013
Matt: How long have you been quilting? What made you begin quilting?
Sharyn: I started taking my first quilting class through the local adult education program in 1978. At the time it was just a natural progression … the next step, for someone who had sewn and crafted forever. My youngest child started kindergarten and I started quilting.
M: Do you have a quilting studio? How big and is there anything unique that you keep in your studio?
S: My sewing room is about 12 x 20 … I’ve just never been able to think of it as a studio. I am fortunate enough to have enough wall space that I have the luxury of 2 large flannel walls, each about 8 feet by 8 feet. A very important goal for me in this space is that it be very organized so that when I have time to sew I can put my fingers on everything I need immediately. I like my fabric hidden from sight, with most of it being stored in file cabinet drawers, up on end, so I can see every piece of whatever color I want just by opening that drawer.
M: What do you consider your quilting “specialty” or what makes you unique in the quilting world?
S: Definitely Setting blocks is my favorite part. I love taking problem blocks, such as size issues, or color problems, and figuring out ways to fix those problems. I like to think that when it comes to setting my blocks together I take what our grandmothers did and move it to the next step. I’m definitely a traditional quilter, but I do march to my own drummer!
M: What is your favorite color schemes to work with?
S: Definitely the reds, greens, blacks, and warm beiges or even yellow tones.
M: What books or articles have you written?
S: Yikes, book number 17 came out in the Spring of 2010. My titles include: The Art of Classic Quiltmaking, Drafting Plus, Setting Solutions, Great Sets, Twist ‘n Turn, Quilt Challenges, Half Log Cabin Quilts, and Layer ’em Up (volumes 1, 2, and 3) There have been lots of magazine articles over the 30 plus years as well.
M: What do you do while you quilt? Listen to music?
S: I will only have music or tv on if I’m doing repetitive work that doesn’t require any thinking. I do like music (country to classical, and lots in between), but if I need to concentrate or create Ijust can’t handle any distractions.
M: What is your quilting inspiration?
S: In the beginning it was antique quilts. Old quilts are probably a source of inspiration today, although I don’t actively study old quilts any more, except when looking for a different sort of color scheme, or perhaps a new block. It was never for the exact quilt, but more often for the emotional feel I got from that antique quilt. That’s the sort of thing I wanted for my quilts … for people to have a positive emotional response.
M: What is the funniest moment you have had while you were teaching?
S: I’m not sure this counts, and at the time I sure didn’t think it was so funny … but here goes, I was part of a 3 person teacher panel at Houston Quilt Market. We were sitting on bar stool type chairs on a stage as the moderator asked us questions, then the audience got to ask questions. At a very inopportune moment a giant sneeze came out of me … causing my front fastening bra to come undone. If there hadn’t been a few men in the audience I would have immediately fixed the problem. Instead I had to sit there with my arms crossed for the rest of the questions, hoping everyone wasn’t thinking I was mad!
Another time … at another conference … when we left for lunch and I locked up the classroom, someone from maintenance came and changed the locks to my classroom, without telling anyone. The students thought it was hysterical … me? I was worried about how to fix this problem and retrieve all the quilts inside?
M: What was the best class you have ever taken?
S: I’d probably have to say it was that initial adult ed class … although the teacher wasn’t one of the best, and in 1978 there was still so very much to learn, but she empowered me to be able to do stuff on my own. She didn’t always have answers, but she gave me the tools I needed to find them myself. She helped me believe in my own abilities … as a student, a quilter, and as a quilting teacher. Within a year after I started taking this class I was working as her assistant. Within 2 years I was actually teaching the class on my own. Her encouragement was a critical part of that equation.