Annie Hudnut has a lifelong passion for making. Her artistic roots trace back to her early years, where she dabbled in fabric and glue, while her serious dedication lay in classical piano and dance. You’ll see the influence of music and dance in her modern quilts that move across the wall.
Why quilting? How does that medium best express what you want to communicate through your art? How did you get started?
I started playing with glue and fabric when I was about 5 years old. I’ve always loved to make stuff with my hands. Classical piano was my “serious” focus of interest. Sewing was where I had fun. I loved expressing myself through lots of weird homemade clothes. While my mom wasn’t particularly adept with her hands, she always made sure I had an abundance of materials and was happy when I rode my bike to the fabric store and went to town. I was a maker, long before maker became a trendy word. Important to note is that I was also a dancer, ballet and jazz, and as an adult I took up tap and got good enough to teach. One of the things that I loved the most about teaching tap was the improvisatory nature of putting together steps (kind of a mix and match approach that gave agency to my students).
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In 1987 when my third child was a baby, I became interested in this quilting thing and during nap time, I watched Quilt In a Day with Eleanor Burns on PBS. I threw my scraps over my shoulder and bought the few books available at the time and seriously started learning something new. I was fascinated with the repetition and creating secondary space was just plain magic. I was hooked.
Fast forward to Gwen Marston and Freddie Moran’s books on collaborative quilting. Loved the spikes, loved the red, pretty much loved everything that I saw and I started playing. I consider improv quilting to be on a continuum of tame to wild. I was a little past tame at this point and I had no idea where wild was going to take me.
Fast forward some more…I saw an interview with Irene Roderick on YouTube and I got prickles on the back of my neck. This is what I wanted to do when I grew up. I arranged a meet and bow down at QuiltCon Austin and my quilting world was on the cusp of exploding. Irene is a monumental talent, a generous soul, very funny and the best mentor, teacher, colleague and friend that a girl could ask for. She, Patty Coppock (quilter extraordinaire) and I formed a special bond/ critique group at the beginning of the pandemic and it is still going strong. We recently added 2 more amazing quilters to the mix, Carolina Oneto and Jennifer Candon. Honestly it’s an embarrassment of creative riches. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my dear friend Lenny van Eijk, yet another wonderful quilter with whom I share a special quilting relationship. It’s all about community for this solitary bee. I finally belong!
Are you a “finisher”? How many UFOs do you think you have?
Ultimately I am a finisher (mostly). If I’m on a roll, I let myself design and piece until the dreaded quilter’s block sets in. This year I ended up with 16 pieced tops in the queue and frankly that’s about 10 too many. I then quilt for days and face or bind for days as well.
An advantage of this way of working is that I can really get in the groove with quilting and facing. The disadvantage is that I use finishing as an excuse to get off my design wall when I’m feeling stuck.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? How does that help your work develop?
I don’t use either but I really admire people who do. I have found that Procreate makes me the happiest because of the instant ability to use color. I know just enough to be able to experiment freely. Sometimes I use my “sketches” as a guide and sometimes I enlarge them on a projector and make templates on newsprint. I try to sketch most mornings after doing NYT word games with my husband.
Who or what are your main influences and inspirations?
Quilting has been a 35 year journey. I have to give a lot of credit to my mom, who thought I could do anything and provided the resources for all of my interests.
My insatiable curiosity has proven to be pretty useful. I’m willing to read every pertinent book, blog and tutorial. I have taken tons of classes to learn specific skills and I’m willing to ask a million questions when I find an expert.
Irene Roderick has been very important to my improv life. She helped me to find my voice and it’s hard to fully express what that means to a maker. When I was first working with her, she asked me two important questions; Who am I and what do I want to express? My list included musician (lover of rhythm and melody), former dancer (lover of movement and sinewy line), 4th child sense of humor (I needed to be funny to stand out).
Another influence is Nancy Crow.
After three workshops, I’m beginning to understand figure/ground, value and expressive line. As I mentioned, Gwen Marston and Freddie Moran provided a catalyst to my improv journey with their wonderful books as did Sherri Lynn Wood’s book and her Creative Bug classes.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
Don’t hate me. My studio is over a 2 car garage, with myriad windows, sitting high in the trees. It is my happy place and I’m in it every day. I don’t have a regular schedule but I work hard and fast.
My equipment includes a Babylock Aria, APQS Lenni Longarm, giant cutting table and a large ironing surface covered with a Serbian Army wool blanket (from the surplus store). I have a big design wall and lots of IKEA shelves for my fabric. I try to clean up after each project. Oddly enough, even though I’m a musician, I don’t listen to music while I work. When I’m pinning big giant curves or doing handwork, I listen to my favorite podcasts.
Where can people see your work?
I regularly post on Instagram @anniehudnut. I have had a number of quilts in QuiltCon, including 2 winners in the Improv category. One of my goals this year and next is to enter more exhibitions and shows. I seem to miss deadlines so I’m planning to do what it takes to be in the know. It’s important that I finish, photograph and document my work so the process is a bit easier in the future.
I am always happy to share information and expertise with others. If I were more computer savvy and motivated I would make videos and teach. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.
Interview posted October 2023