Featured Artist – Gaye Alger
This months Featured Artist is Gaye Alger, although the interview was over the Internet, I felt I was sitting next to Gaye. I have featured Gaye’s 2014 quilts and her favourite, to see her wonderful work please visit her Artist Gallery for 2013.
- Gaye, unlike so many of our members who started to sew at an early age, you had a dislike for sewing. What helped or inspired you to make the transition to art quilts?
Answer I became interested in art quilts as a result of taking my City and Guilds Certificate in Patchwork & Quilting with the Kemshalls of Design Matters combined with attending a number of Quilt shows. It was joining Fifteen by Fifteen, together with our move to Oman though that has finally given me the opportunity to start creating art quilts. This bi-monthly challenge has forced me to actually get down and produce a piece of work regularly. I have loved doing the research before making the pieces almost as much as the sewing.
Question. Do you have a favourite quilting magazine?
Answer. I buy a digital version of quilting arts as it’s difficult to get in through the post here. I find this a little unsatisfactory but it does keep me up to date with new artists and techniques.
Question. Who or what inspires you?
Answer. This is a little tricky. When it comes to the Fifteen by Fifteen pieces my inspiration comes from the theme. In general terms I would say architecture and the natural world. Concerning who Marie Roper was a great inspiration to me when I was doing my City & Guilds.
Question. Have you participated in any other workshops/courses other than the City and Guild course, and what would be your favourite and why?
Answer. I always attend workshops every time I go the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, England. I really enjoyed “Connecting Art to Stitch” with Sandra Meech a few years ago and Make it Personal with Hilary Beattie last year! These were both very messy two day workshops. I also enjoyed Inspired to Design with Elizabeth Barton at the online Quilt University. I found this site too late unfortunately as it has now closed. I have also found some of the Craftsy platform workshops very helpful especially Painted Pictorial Quilts with Annette Kennedy, the Art of Cloth Dyeing with Jane Dunnewold and Color Play for Quilters with Joen Wolfrom.
Question. I understand that you teach, could you describe the type of workshops you conduct?
Answer. I have only recently started to teach. I offer a basic free motion quilting workshop as I feel everyone should have a try at this wonderful technique. Most of the ladies here in Oman seem to want to make huge quilt tops which they then send off to be long arm quilted at the Quilt shop in Dubai. I am trying to encourage a few to try and quilt their own quilts. Since arriving here I have been teaching a 10 week basic patchwork class for beginners for both hand sewing and machine sewing. There are always new people asking to learn the basics that I don’t seem to have the time to teach the more fun stuff! I’m always being asked for art quilt classes as the ladies here just want to learn everything. Getting materials is a little problematic but I’m hoping to prepare a couple of basic art quilt technique workshops over this summer for the coming new guild year (we take a break for the three months of summer as its too hot and a lot of people go away).
Question. What is your favourite technique or tool?
Answer. I love hand dyeing fabric and using paint in a variety of surface design techniques. As I’m an art quilt newbie I’m still experimenting with different techniques so can’t really say I have a favourite. I enjoy making print blocks and stamps and painting directly onto the fabric with fabric paints, acrylic paints and thickened dyes.
Question. Your quilt “Contrast” is one of my favourites, but your body of work so far is diverse, could you tell us which is your favourite and why?
Answer. This is also tricky as I don’t really have a favourite. I enjoyed making them all and whilst some didn’t always come out quite as I expected I was happy with the result. I am especially proud of Welcome Visitors made for the garden theme because I think the fabric painting of the poppy came out really well. I also very much like Connecting the Dots because I think I managed to get a sense of depth into the piece.
Question. What is your favourite colour?
Question. Do you use a sketchbook?
Answer. I’m trying to but not in the way I should. I often use scrap paper to sketch out ideas but usually I work from my head. I do try and sample though, especially if I’m using a new technique. I do keep all the scrap papers so I suppose you could say I have a scrappy loose leaf sketchbook!
Question What brand of sewing machine do you use, and do you like it?
Answer. I have three different brands of sewing machines which I use. I have a basic mechanical Pfaff with IDT for piecing. I lightweight so easy to take to classes and the IDT (integrated waking foot) makes for very accurate piecing. I can free motion quilt on it if I have to. I also have a Bernina 630 QE which I use almost exclusively for free motion quilting. Having the two machines set up permanently means I can practise my quilting whenever I want. I recommend practising daily to my students and I try and do the same myself. I do occasionally use the Bernina for sewing on fused appliques although I mainly use a straight free motion raw edge technique for my art quilts. I have also very recently bought a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen. This is actually a 15 inch long arm machine set into a table so it can be used as a domestic sewing machine. It’s a dedicated free motion quilting machine. I am really enjoying practising on it although it is very different. I’m hoping it will make it easier to start trying to make larger art quilts.
Would you like to share some information about yourself?
Answer I’ve been married to Graham for over 30 years and have an 18 year old son, Fox. I sometimes sound out ideas on him as he has quite a good sense of colour. Graham is very supportive but has no interest in quilting of any kind. We had a fairly nomadic start to our marriage but eventually settled in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England.
I started quilting about 11 years ago after we bought a house in Cyprus and I thought it would be nice to have a patchwork quilt for the winter. I have no idea why I thought this as I wouldn’t even make a pair of curtains. I made a 108 inch square quilt using a book as a guide! Despite breaking many of the quilting rules it went together fairly well. It was quilted in the ditch on a tiny sewing machine and is still on the bed in Cyprus now. After taking a beginners class at a fairly local quilting shop I was hooked.
For almost 2 years now we have lived in Muscat, Oman. This is a wonderful country and it has finally given me the time to develop my art quilting skills. It has also meant that for the first time in 10 years I have a large dedicated space where I can have all my machines set up and a cutting and pressing area. I still tend to use the dining area for my painting though.
I am now chairperson of the Muscat Quilters Guild which is proving to be interesting if a little distracting.
Touch of Red (Contrast)
Rhythm of Life (Rhythm)
Welcome Visitors (Garden)