Frieda Andersen is a self proclaimed “Investigator of Ideas”. With a formal education in Art History, she has always been interested in making things – using her hands and mind together.
How did you get started making quilts? What was it about art quilts that called to you?
I made my first quilt when I was in high school with my MeMaw, my maternal grandmother. We made a square template quilt from leftover dress fabrics. I still remember using a cardboard square template and tracing around each of the fabrics with a pencil and then cutting them out and arranging them on the floor before sewing them together on an old black Singer sewing machine. This is a very fond memory for me.
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Do you think that creativity is part of human nature or is it something that must be nurtured and learned?
I think EVERYONE is creative in some aspect of their lives, and yes I think it is ideal if it is nurtured. In the beginning of an individual’s life hopefully it is nurtured by an interested older adult, and then as the artist grows and matures by the artist themselves. I believe in the motto never give up. Any endeavor is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Just because something doesn’t work out the way you want or envision it doesn’t mean you give up. I believe we learn more from our mistakes than our successes.
Tell us about your formal art education and how it informs your work in fiber.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Art History with a minor in ceramics, and an associate’s degree in fashion design. Art, making things, and using my hands and mind together have always interested me. I like to think that I am part engineer and part artist. Certainly, I am an investigator of ideas.
If you were no longer able to make art quilts, how would you express your creativity?
If I were to branch out with my art away from or in addition to fiber art, I would explore photography, woodworking, house building, or perhaps I would do more with graphic design on the computer. I might even return to ceramics.
How does involvement with professional organizations contribute to your work?
I am a member of two professional organizations, SAQA / Studio Art Quilt Associates an international organization, and PAQA / Professional Art Quilt Alliance, a local organization. Each offers something unique for me.
SAQA offers the opportunity to connect with a membership that is worldwide. It also offers the opportunity to have my work published each year in a professional Portfolio since I am a JAM member. A key benefit of being a Juried Artist Member (JAM) is a gallery profile page on the SAQA website. Each artist can have up to five high-resolution images of their art as well as contact information and artist statements. With a membership in SAQA I am able to enter my work for consideration in many different themed competitions each year.
PAQA is a local group that offers the opportunity to have work in traveling exhibits with a group of local artist as well as attend monthly meetings for networking and encouragement.
Who or what has inspired/influenced/empowered you?
I have a bachelor’s degree in art history and an associate’s degree in fashion design. Each brings a different impact to my work. But what I believe influences my work the most is the fact that I have been making “things” from a very young age. Certainly I am influenced by my degree in Art History and it teaches me that all artists have an evolution of work that is in some degree affected by other artists that have gone before them. My fashion design degree makes me understand construction of quilting really well and also affects my finishing techniques. I am very particular about how I sew and finish a quilt. I believe in quality of design as well as quality of construction; quilting is a sewn medium.
My drive to create came at an early age, so I must say that I drive myself to be creative, BUT influences were artists of all genres and really just an eye to observation. I am constantly aware of design and color combinations, textures and subtleties that I encounter every day. All the great quilts I get to experience by attending quilt shows, quilt guilds and all sorts of museums also inspire me. I love going to museums of all kinds, as well as art fairs, galleries, flea markets and antique stores wherever I can encounter design and art.
What draws you to botanical subject matter?
I don’t know that I can pinpoint what draws me to botanical representation in my work, but I will say that I have always been interested in flora and fauna, especially if I can interpret them with simple shapes and bold color. I came of age in the 70’s when bold color and simple graphics were certainly the style.
If you could interview a creative person in any field (past or present), who would that person be? What would you ask?
Being an art history buff I have read a lot of biographies of artists and studied their work and artistic arc. But I would have to say I would like to visit with Georgia O’Keefe, Vincent Van Gogh, Alexander Calder, M.C. Escher and Leonardo da Vinci, just to name a few that pop in my head.
Do you ever get stuck creatively? How do you overcome creative blocks?
I think everyone creative gets stuck sometimes. If I just keep working no matter what, I find that ideas begin to flow. I also keep sketch books that I go back and draw inspiration from, as well as inspiration notebooks that I keep with imagery from magazines, photos or newspapers. These inspiration notebooks are a really helpful tool for looking at color combinations to design ideas and just for the pure joy of an image. I am also addicted to Pinterest and have multi boards with lots of ideas.
How do you keep your studio organized? Tell us about your creative space and how it works for you.
My creative space is very large and I am very lucky at this time to have so much space. I use the whole lower level of our four bedroom home as my studio.
This basement space has my sewing machines set up in their own sewing cabinets and I have a large work table with drawers and a large ironing surface set in an L configuration to work at.
I have several large design walls to hang work on as well as an inspiration wall to tack photos and memorabilia to.
My computer is in this space along with six large filing cabinets, and my inventory of for sale items is also in this space.
I do all the dyeing of my fabrics behind this area in a large laundry space. It has several windows set in the foundation so I do have some natural light, but I had an electrician come in and rewire the area and add lighting so I have really great lighting. Good lighting is so important to working well. I keep all my threads for sewing and quilting in drawers right by my main sewing machine, and I stack all my fabrics on shelves against the wall.
Are there indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
Of course my sewing machine and my iron are indispensable to creating. And I have multiples of each of those for different areas of my work space. Having a large cutting area and really sharp cutting tools is a must. Lots of marking tools and very sharp scissors are so necessary.
When I teach, I am so often amazed that students show up with blunt or inadequate cutting tools. Sharp tools make your work so much easier as do the right marking tools. I can’t hand sew without a thimble. ☺
I try to improve my skills and my designs by constantly reworking them. When I finish a quilt, I will critique it and look for ways to improve my technique or design. I cannot say it enough, never give up.
When you quilt, do you drive domestic or longarm?
I work on a BERNINA 770 and love it – I am a domestic sewing machine gal. I would love a long arm but I really don’t have room for one. Several feather weight sewing machines and on old black Singer 630 machine that I love for just straight stitching are in my studio, but most of my work is done on the 770. I’m not loyal to any one iron but right now I am using a large tank iron.
Which of your pieces – up to now – pleases you the most?
My latest quilt UNFULRING is my favorite quilt at the moment. It just won several awards. A drawing of it sat on my design wall for over five years until I was ready to begin it.
What is the last artwork you purchased?
The last artwork I purchased was a small 12” x 12” quilt by Jane Hall at the IQA quilt show in Houston, TX. When I am at this show or traveling, I try to purchase art work by other quilters. I have seven so far. I also try to purchase art regionally when I travel or pieces from quilters I admire.
What is on your design wall right now?
I am currently working on a series of tree designs that are on the design wall, and I have several more in my sketch book I am antsy to start work on.
Do you teach or conduct workshops? How can people find you?
What’s next for you?
Working on my new tree series will keep me busy for a long while to come and is making me very happy.
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Interview published September, 2018.
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