Spotlight: Sherry Shish, Quilter, Blogger, & Pattern Designer
Sherry Shish has been a crafter her entire life, starting with hand sewing when she was younger, then expanding to crocheting, knitting, needle felting, paper crafts, and finally quilting. And Sherry fell in love with the creative possibilities in quilting! She’s an engineer by schooling and day job, but quilting definitely energizes and motivates the rest of her waking moments. And maybe some sleeping ones, too! Hence, her blog: Powered by Quilting.
How long have you been quilting? How did you get started?
I have been quilting for almost 3 years. But I actually started on accident. I had finally gotten a sewing machine and started to make bags and smaller little items when I thought making a quilt would be a good idea.
The basic quilt top turned out great, but the quilting was really horrendous. There are no other quilters in my family and when you are new at something, Google doesn’t help because you don’t know what to search for. Basic things like basting a quilt or using a walking foot were completely foreign to me. Thankfully, I got properly introduced to quilting at Original Sewing Expo in Minneapolis a few months later. It was very overwhelming, but I dove right in and haven’t looked back.
When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
Ever since I was young! I don’t really know how old I was, but I remember in 2nd grade we did one of those “When I grow up” books. My page was about how I wanted to work for the Dallas Museum of Art because that’s obviously where all the artists go to work. I grew up in Dallas and the museum was the only exposure I had to any adult creativity.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people – or do you think creativity is a skill that people must develop?
I actually think it is both…I think creativity is like a muscle. People are naturally creative, but if you don’t work with the creative part of your brain it’s really hard to get started. I went to school for and work as an Engineer so creativity has been on the back burner for most of my adult life. Finding quilting has actually opened up the creative part of my mind.
I’m completing the 365 Days of Art book this year to really train my brain to think creatively or at least exercise that part of my brain on a regular basis. I’ve noticed that it has really helped my design process for quilting.
Who or what has inspired/influenced/empowered you?
This is actually the hardest question for me to answer. I gather inspiration from lots of different artists, but I have a hard time naming certain ones. I consider my style more of a traditional modern, but it tends to fluctuate with my mood!
Tell us about your most challenging piece. What were the obstacles and how did you get past them?
My most challenging piece was actually the very first quilt I designed. I can’t share this design just yet because it’s getting published in a magazine releasing later this year. The quilt design has changed slightly over the course of 2 years, and I had attempted to make the quilt several times.
The original idea was the most technically challenging quilt I had ever attempted to make and each time I had quit before getting very far. I worked on the quilt design on and off for months before finding a very clever way to make the blocks without making it so challenging while still keeping the original intent of the design.
You post your weekly goals on your website. Does that help you achieve them?
Absolutely! I do feel a bit awkward posting my goals, but it’s my way of making sure I’m accountable for what I set out to do. There were a few weeks after I moved that I stopped posting goals and guess what?!? I stopped making as much progress as I needed to be doing to move my projects forward!
How many projects do you have going at once? Or are you one of those kind of people who only works on one creative project at a time?
I have more projects going than I can count. Some projects have strict deadlines for blog hops or commitments and some deadlines are those that I set for myself. Some projects just sit in a bin waiting for me to inspired again to work on it. At any given point, I would say I have upwards of 10 different projects going on and I can get distracted easily and may start a new one.
In addition to creating your own quilts and tutorials, you participate in so many challenges and hops – and actually post about them! How do you decide what to work on and organize your time and space to make it all happen?
I have a monthly planner that I schedule out my blog posts. One of my goals this year is to blog consistently. Challenges and hops are really fun to participate in and they get scheduled on my calendar.
Do you do your own quilting, have a longarmer on speed dial – or both?
I do my own quilting for up to a lap size quilt. I love my longarmer, Rhonda Walker, and she is on speed dial. Because I tend to know what is coming up, I can give notice when she’ll be getting a quilt from me usually a month in advance. It helps me set that personal deadline and helps her schedule. I am trying to up my free motion quilting skills, but I don’t know if I’ll ever find wrangling a quilt in my domestic machine fun.
When you begin to create, do you have a finished product in mind? Or does the work evolve?
By the time I get to cutting fabric, I usually have the finished product in mind or sketched out. There have been times that the work evolves but it’s usually more with the fabric choices that don’t seem to work together, not the final design.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like? Tell us about moving a studio – fun or not?
I’m lucky to have a dedicated space. When we lived in Minnesota, I had started with one of the bedrooms and slowly took over the second spare room and then part of the guest bedroom.
We just finished moving to Kansas City, and we bought a place that works better for our needs. I ended up taking the entire basement family room as my dedicated space. I have bookshelves of storage along parts of the walls, design walls on one of the walls, and my machines and minis on the other walls. In the center of the room, I have my ironing board and my cutting table creating an L shape to have more work surfaces. Moving the studio between the two spaces was not very fun, but at least I had movers to help me! Plastic bins with gaskets were a must to help transport all of my fabric. I used clear bins to help see what was in each bin for unpacking. (Read about my space here)
Are there indispensable tools/materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
Daylight lamps. I need so much light just to see and the Daylight lamps are the best.
What is your favorite storage tip for fabric?
I use clear plastic totes or project boxes for almost everything! I make mini bolts with fabric that I have that is one yard or longer. Anything smaller I keep in totes. I have totes for fat quarters and half yards, scraps sorted by color, and individual projects.
How many UFOs do you think you have?
Not including kits that I haven’t started, I usually run 10-15 projects at a time. Some of these projects just need to be retired to the “I’ll never complete this” pile. If you include kits that I have purchased… I don’t even know.
Which current trends are you following? What will be the next big thing?
Fabric Weaving is up and coming. It’s also really fun and the products made from weaving look so cool!
What else would you like to share with us today?
A few blogger friends of mine started Partners in Design, Where Friends and Fabric Meet. We are currently hosting our second Quilt along and planning our 3rd. I designed a block for our first quilt along, I Wish You a Merry QAL and designed 2 blocks for our current quilt along, Fall into A QAL.
I am also participating and designing a sampler quilt in the 2018 Monthly Color Challenge. It’s been really fun to play with color each month and we’ll end up with a wonderfully colorful quilt at the end of the year.
There are lots of things in the works for the next year and I’m so excited to be designing and creating beautiful things!
Here’s how to find and follow Sherry!
Quilter, Blogger, Pattern Designer