Spotlight: Christine Ricks & Amy Ellis of Curated Quilts
What happens when two quilters start meeting for lunch? For Christine Ricks and Amy Ellis, they launch Curated Quilts, a quarterly quilt show you can hold in your hands. The magazine shares their love of quilting and connects Modern Quilters with current trends and with each other.
How did you get started with quilting?
Christine: I truly started quilting about 10 years ago when a good friend invited me to participate in a quilting bee. But my quilting experience began much earlier than that. My grandmother quilted a lot, but mostly as a practical gift for grandkids as they went to college. She didn’t explore design or care much about fabric either. She’d use what she had and stitch them up as something to keep her hands busy.
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I also oddly felt a distinct call to quilt when I turned 30. I decided as a rite of passage to make a quilt and hand quilt it as part of becoming a woman. I’ve always been drawn to fabric because of all the pretty patterns and colors.
While in college, the graphic design students thought having our designs on fabric one day would be the greatest achievement. So with all these elements playing to my need to create, it was only a matter of time before quilting became part of my life.
I should add…I joined that sewing bee thinking it would just be a fun social experience to hang out with my friends. Little did I know that 10 years later I would be heavily involved in this community. I love calling myself a quilter.
Amy: I learned to sew garments as a girl and then taught myself to piece quilts as a young mom. I needed the satisfaction of a finished project; at the time, I didn’t realize how much I would grow to love quilting!
What are your earliest memories of your own creative expression?
Christine: I’ve been creatively encouraged all my life. My parents were both pretty creative and my maternal grandparents were also very creative and encouraged me to explore art. I remember distinctly as a 1st grader entering a class contest to draw/decorate a pumpkin. I won a prize in my class. It was very satisfying to me to feel recognized for my creativity.
Amy: I grew up watching my mom sew and enjoyed sorting buttons from her vintage button collection while she made clothing for my sister and me. I enrolled in 4-H at 10, and we did all sorts of sewing projects that I made to fit me. I loved wearing those garments, and was proud of the work I did.
Who or what are your main influences and inspirations?
Christine: I get most of my inspiration from fine art. I’m drawn to the modern works of Rothko for his use of color, Minimalist artists of the 21st century, Mid Century design, and quilters such as Gwen Marston, the Amish and Sherri Lynn Wood.
Amy: So many things inspire me! Art and architecture top the list, but I try to look closer at everything in life; inspiration is a constant if I let it.
Tell us about Curated Quilts and how it came to be.
Curated Quilts started when Amy and I started meeting up regularly for lunch. As modern quilters looking to connect and share our love of quilting.
We live about 45 minutes away from each other and would meet in the middle to catch up. Eventually, these lunches grew into an opportunity to make something together.
We’d originally aimed to produce a modern quilt show but realized quickly how much of an undertaking that would be. Instead, Curated Quilts was born. It became a way to create a quarterly quilt show while curating a context of history for future generations.
How do you decide on a theme for each issue of Curated Quilts?
We like to meet every 6 months or so and plan out the year’s issues. We typically gather thoughts and ideas of things that pop up in social media or themes trending in the community. The last QuiltCon had a strong theme (we like to think) from some of our issues in the previous year. Black and White quilts and Word quits.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes Curated Quilts stand out from other quilting publications?
Each Curated Quilts issue has a theme. That allows us to deep-dive into the history and technique for each idea we study. Curated Quilts is ad-free. We are a lean team of two working on each issue; ads didn’t fit into either of our skillsets when we started the journey. We also commit to using high-quality paper for our publication. As tactile aficionados in textiles, the feel of the paper is very important to us.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain?
Our focus is always to bring inspiration to our readers and encourage them to create their unique quilt. We hope that the Gallery and articles in each issue provide inspiration and tools to explore at the sewing machine.
What trends do you see in quilting today?
Christine: A lot of the trends we see are coming from the art world. Quilters incorporate them as way to define their own style of quilting and what it means to them. Hand stitching, dyeing fabric and appliqué are just a few that stand out to me.
What do you believe is a key element in creating a successful quilt?
Amy: I believe any quilt made with love is a success. It may not be the most detailed or perfect, but when made with heart I believe it is a win.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have as compared to people who are not creative?
Amy: I believe everyone is creative. It’s a matter of finding the right medium for each person; then they can explore the creativity that is always unique to them.
How do you get unstuck creatively?
Amy: I usually have to clean up my space when I’m feeling stuck. This allows me to uncover things that I left to finish later. I find precious bits of fabric or a project in progress that didn’t have a deadline. Improv piecing has become a great source of joy in my quilting practice. I have been rewarding myself with a little improv time after mask sewing or a long computer day.
What is the biggest challenge to being successful in a creative field?
Amy: Burnout! I’m constantly looking for a way to recharge my creative battery so that quilting is still fun. Usually this comes in the form of a project without a deadline or objective, sewing just to sew.
Christine: I find sometimes I put a lot of pressure on myself to “be creative”. For me this is a full time job, and I always want to produce something that I can be proud of. So when I step into my sewing room, I remember that this is something I love to do and that it’s FUN!
My best way to get past burnout is to allow myself to play and have fun. Whether it’s at the sewing machine with a few minutes of sewing some scraps or pulling out my paint or doing some hand stitching, enjoying something creative that gets me away from the computer has been the very best way for me to relax and break out of burnout. Funny, you’d think being MORE creative offers more burnout, but it is actually the opposite. More FUN creativity opens the doors to MORE creativity.
Interview posted August 2020
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