Featured Artist – Caro Higgs
This month we are treated to an interview with Caroline or Caro as she likes to be called. Caro is a talented art quilter and joined the group in 2013; her first art quilt was for the challenge “Garden”, it was apparent that Caro had many techniques and ideas to share.
She also has a sense of humour and I think we all smiled and had a chuckle at her interpretation of the theme “Connect”…”(She’s) Well Connected”.
Caro’s talent takes her in many directions and her interpretation of the Challenge “Road” is my favourite, the title of her quilt is “Itineris bestiola” and if you visit her Artist Gallery you can read about her work and technique she used in this piece.
Caro has worked for the group in many other ways than just joining in the bi-monthly challenge, she helped in making our first exhibition a success and has put her hand up again for our exhibition in Maastricht in 2015. She is ready to offer her advice and to be supportive of members whether it is about designing, quilting or personal matters. The following is the interview that I had (electronically) with Caro earlier this month.
What type of patchwork and quilting do you do –traditional or contemporary?
Now my work is almost always contemporary or art quilt but I reckon that I will at some point revert to a piece or two in a traditional style just because I like the satisfaction of piecing and the regular and satisfying motion of hand-quilting. I will also work in miniature again, I love working small…….
Where do you find your inspiration and your design sources?
For the most part I use photos that I have taken for inspiration. At first with this group’s projects I turned to quotations to find inspiration. Having finished my C & G course I realised that I really enjoyed working within one subject and I am now trying to keep all my work related to trees. Daily life and observations give me more than enough inspiration.
How do you begin your design process?
From a photo, or from something that I have seen, I always imagine what I want in my head and have a good idea of the colours in my mind as well. I do now use a sketchbook though nobody else would understand my scribblings, I can’t draw but I do now map out where I want things and try and put samples in to the sketchbook. I am trying to be disciplined!
Fabric selection – do you dye your own fabrics, or just use commercial fabrics?
I am increasingly colouring my own fabric either with dye or paint, while I have to say that I have the most enormous stash of different fabrics so I actually need to think of using some of that too……
What are your preferences for stitching – hand/machine?
This a difficult one, I am very tactile and love the feel of fabric so really enjoy hand quilting/stitching, I do however quilt with the machine as well. For piecing it is normally by machine but each piece of work is different and requires different treatments so it depends. It is rare that a piece does not have a mixture of hand and machine.
Are you inspired by other quilters and artists?
Yes and no. Until relatively recently I took loads of photos at shows and exhibitions but now I tend to look carefully and make a note of details which attract me, I do take photos of things which really attract me but I always forget to go back to them. I suppose that it is techniques which attract my attention rather than actual complete finished pieces.
Do you regularly attend workshops or participate in on-line courses? If so could you tell us of your experiences?
Upon finishing C& G I vowed not to take on any more information until I had revisited all the many different parts of the course. However, this year I have been tempted twice. The first time was a for an embroidery course run by James Hunting (with France patchwork) which really motivated and inspired me (I felt that something in me was ‘unlocked’) and secondly when I found that was a place left on a course with Isabelle Weissler at Ste Marie I jumped at it because I wanted to now more about working with tyvek and lutrador and the subject was tree bark. I am not against the idea of further courses, I do enjoy attending workshops because I like the contact with ‘real’ people although I reckon that I might do an on-line course or two at some point just because it is usually cheaper.
Please talk about the different quilting groups you belong to and your involvement.
I am president of the local club, there are only 7 of us and for the most part the other members are very traditional, typical for France. They work from patterns and almost entirely by piecing or appliqué and some of them to a very high standard, I feel that my wings are clipped when I am with them and struggle to always give them ideas which they feel comfortable with! I am also a member of France Patchwork and it is through the regional group that I first experienced the more contemporary techniques and this whetted my appetite which is why I did my C & G diploma. I am also a member of the Quilter’s Guild (UK) Contemporary group for which I complete a Journal Quilt each month, this has been very motivating and given me the opportunity to trial ideas and techniques and work to deadlines, the blog for this group is very lively and helps one to feel a part of an active and friendly group.
What is or was the most exciting event in your quilting life?
It was exciting because it was totally unexpected and came out of the blue. It was when I sold my Rhythm quilt, a lady saw it and liked it and when I explained the story behind the quilt I gave her goose bumps, it just seemed right that she bought it…….
Could you share with us the different venues at which you have exhibited your quilts?
I have exhibited at the Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, Quilt en Beaujolais, A small show in the Charente region of France, a craft show in the south at Aix en Provence and recently A did a panel which went with Chamonix on a twinning trip to Garmisch Partenkirchen in Germany. I have also had pieces which have toured the sewing shows in the UK with the Contemporary group. At present I have a piece in suitcase collection touring France.
Would you like to share something about yourself?
I have always had a needle and thread near to hand but it is only in the last there years that this passion has taken over my life, and it came at a time when I was feeling that I didn’t have enough to occupy me; I still work and never quite know when and often feel frustrated because work gets in the way of my creative time! I have so many ideas turning in my head waiting to be transformed in to stitch work. I really appreciate being a part of this group and the sense of friendship amongst us despite the distance.
Thank you Caro we look forward to your next interpretation of the December/January theme “Monochromatic”.