Get to know The Guild better by meeting our talented members! We have interesting and inspiring members all over the country doing amazing sewing and we want you to be able to share their work.
Meet Guild member, art quilter and teacher, Alicia Merrett.
What are you working on now?
Having had to take some time off teaching and other activities in the last year, I used some of the time to follow an online course on “Art on the iPad” taught by American quilt artist Susie Monday. I found it exhilarating and rejuvenating, and my new pieces are both a new path and a return to my first love: Colour.
There are many ways to create on the iPad. I start with my own original colour paintings, I then modify them using a variety of iPad apps, sometimes also using Photoshop in my computer. I then print them on fabric – I can do small pieces in my home printer, but the majority are printed by Spoonflower. They are an American firm but have a branch in Germany. They are not the cheapest but they produce the best, strongest colours, which is what I want. They are ecologically-oriented printers who use very little water in their processes.
The printed pieces are layered and then fairly heavily machine quilted.
I have now made several pieces, some smaller ones mounted on stretched canvases, some bigger ones where sections are joined together, and larger ones are being planned for the near future.
I also made a 3-D art book, which will be displayed in the Quilt Creations category at the Festival of Quilts 2019.
What is your favourite quilt that you’ve ever made?
It’s difficult to choose between a number of favourites. If pushed I would say “Port at Dusk Diptych”, which is an imaginary quilted map, highly regarded by a lot of people, and which has been shown very widely – in the UK, in several European countries, the US, South Korea. It is also featured in SAQA’s book “Art Quilts Unfolding” which traces the history of contemporary art quilts in the last 50 years.
Another favourite is “Yorke 1611” which was commissioned by the Quilters’ Guild and it is now in their collection. It was based on the pioneering 1611 map of York by John Speed, and the quilt was on display in York in 2012 as part of the 800th year celebrations of the City of York receiving its charter from King John.
The above pieces are map quilts, which I have been making for the last 12 years or so, and for which I am best known.
Who are your quilting heroes?
Several. My first crucial teacher was Nancy Crow, who changed my outlook on quilting. Then I took classes with Michael James, whose teachings were also very important to me from the art point of view. Other teachers whose input was very much appreciated and whose work I admire, are Carol Bryer Fallert-Gentry, Melody Johnson, and Sue Benner.
I am very fond of Korean Bojagi, and had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Chunghie Lee, who led the revival of this ancient Korean art for modern times. I believe it influenced my use of fine lines in my quilts and my maps.
I love the work of Linda Levin and Betty Busby, both American quilters almost unknown in the UK, but very much deserving our attention.
Can you recommend a good quilting read?
Years ago I read books by Nancy Crow and Michael James, and they all made a huge difference to my quilting. They are still relevant.
The quilts of Gee’s Bend were another great influence on me; there are several books about them. I saw them in New York when they were first exhibited and they made a strong impression.
I am interested in Afro-American quilting and another game-changer was Anna Williams: Her Quilts and Their Influence by Katherine Watts; and those by the late Jewish-American quilt collector Eli Leon, particularly Who’d Have Thought it: Improvisation in African-American Quilting. Unfortunately they are out of print, and second-hand copies, when found, can be very expensive.
I also strongly recommend Art Quilts Unfolding: 50 years of Innovation, Schiffer Publishing, 2018, which traces the history of contemporary art quilts in the last 50 years.
When did you join The Guild and why?
I joined the Guild in the mid-1990s when I started quilting. A friend invited me to attend the meetings of London Quilters, and soon after I joined the Guild. It was a brilliant thing to do and it led to meeting lots of like-minded people, attending exhibitions, showing my work, teaching, etc. Belonging to a community of wonderful and friendly people makes a huge difference to one’s progress as a quilter, and I strongly recommend it!
We are asking Members to tell us a bit about their sewing life using five simple questions. At the end of the interview each member suggests another to interview. This way we hope to bring you a wide range of makers from all corners of The Guild over the next weeks and months. If you know an inspiring quilter who we should feature, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send out a copy of our questionnaire.