Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Coffee Talk Tuesday: Robin Oxenford

This week we're getting to know Robin Oxenford a little better.  :)  She's such a cutie, and is expecting a little cutie baby girl of her own in October!  We're all thrilled for her!!!  Maybe she'll bring the little one to a meeting so I can get a baby fix.  My babies are now toddlers...'nuff said.  ;)  
Okay...enough about me and missing the baby stage.  On to our interview with Robin!






Hi, Robin!  Lets get the "boring" stuff out of the way.  Do you have a blog?  Online shop?


I have a blog titled "Robin Loves Quilting."  No shop though.


How long have you been sewing/quilting?


My mom is the family's original quilter/sewist/fabric store maniac, and I was a girl scout, so between sewing classes and merit badges, I have a small collection of things I made as a kid - not that I remember making them, honestly. But in 2003 I joined a middle eastern dance troupe, and found that my small foundation in sewing allowed me to make - and to help others make - simple costuming items. Mom had an inexpensive old singer she was happy to lend to the cause, and for the first six years of my sewing "career," I made circle skirts and accessories to perform in.


I have been quilting for almost 3 years. I made my first quilt in March of 2010, as a gift for my now-husband's niece. 


Belly dancing?!  SWEET!  I think you need to teach a random class to us on belly dancing basics.  :)  So, how did you get from making costumes to quilting?



That's actually a funny story. My Mom's from California, and when I moved to Oklahoma, she'd want to hit all the quilt shops here. So for YEARS I dutifully traipsed around to every quilt store in the area, thinking myself immune to their charms "because cotton is too stiff to dance in." Then, two years ago when the Wizard of Oz Fabric was big, I picked up a couple of picture panels to make pillows for my Mother-in-Law, who's a huge Oz fan. I was stunned at how easy the cotton was to work with, and thoroughly enjoyed making the pillows, and quilting seemed the next logical step. 

Mom did quite generously refrain from gloating in public when I told her I liked making the pillows and wanted to quilt, but I'm not sure if it was out of social grace or because she was too busy doing a victory dance internally.

"Slices of Sunset".  Robin displayed this at the recent OKCMQG "Defining mod-ern" quilt show.


HA!  Well, that was nice of your mom to contain her "gloating."  So, what drew you towards the more modern style of quilting?

Three words: color, color, and color. Nothing makes me happier than working with bright, cheerful palettes, and they're pretty prevalent in Mod quilting right now. Also, on a social note many modern quilters are younger, and I think it's a really exciting time to be a woman in her 20s or 30s; our mothers and grandmothers paved the way for us to have plenty of choice, and we're the first generation to benefit from a sort of "second-wave feminism" where a woman can find equal dignity in a traditional or a career-oriented path. Modern quilters as a whole seem to get this, and though we come from all walks of life and make a wide variety of choices, the general sentiment seems to be "forget the mommy wars, the rules and the "proper" way to do things, let's just talk about what actually important: life, and fabric." I like that attitude.


LOVE it when modern quilters see how we came from the traditional set!  So important to give kudos to those ladies who brought us where we are today.  With that in mind...modern quilters often have inspiration from other modern quilters as well.  Who do you find particularly inspiring in that realm?


My favorite blog, and the one that drew me into the blogosphere initially is Stitched in Color. Now I'm also addicted to seeing what everyone is doing over in Work In Progress Wednesdays at Freshly Pieced. You can see all the blogs I follow on the sidebar of my blog.  (it's a pretty good mix), but mostly I like to draw inspiration from the fabric itself; I find a collection I love, and then I trawl the web and check out the sample quilts on display in my LQS until I see a pattern that I think would show it off just right. I'm not above fudging.


Speaking of fabrics.  What styles of fabrics speak to you the most, and why?


I swear I really am old enough to drive, vote, and drink; but you'd never know it from my tastes in fabric. My absolute favorite designer is Me and My Sister Designs with Doodlebug for Riley Blake coming in a close second. I think it's the bright colors and unabashed whimsy that draws me in.


Nothing wrong with whimsy!!!  We could all use a bit more whimsy in our lives.  Although there are times when we have to get down to business so to speak, so when do you find you're the most  productive, or when do the most ideas strike you?


These days, if I get any quilting at all in it's on the weekend, usually when my husband is out of town and we can't do baby/nursery stuff. But I've always been a night owl, and historically I'd sit down a day or two a week after work, and if I got my quilting groove on I could be up for hours as long as the project is going well. I like to have a loose plan at the beginning, and then fly by the seat of my pants to execute it in practice. So my loose ideas come from fabric shopping and pattern-admiring, and then my "how to actually make this work" comes from sweat and a sense of adventure.








I can't wait to see what you do for that nursery!!!  Speaking of planning...what are some projects you plan to tackle in the near future?


Honestly, I don't really plan ahead that way: the last big thing I decided to learn was fusible applique, which is how the Star Wars quilt was born. But to say "I decided to learn applique" would put the cart ahead of the horse; I got in idea for a quilt that required applique, decided that at this point in my journey there was no reason NOT to learn applique, and so I was off. For better or worse, I am not afraid to solve problems while in motion.


I like that approach.  Learn it when you need it.  Now I have to know.  What quilt creation are you the most proud of?


This is my current piece de resistance: the Wizard of Oz Quilt. Measuring in at a fairly whopping  seven feet tall, this quilt was conceived as a practical means to use up the little movie reels that came on the bottoms of each Wizard of Oz pillow panel. Originally I thought "oh, just sew them all together, and Bob's your uncle, little lap quilt in minutes" but then as the line progressed, the sizes of the frames changed, as did the spacing and the outside color of the "reel."  So eventually I decided to just cut and frame each piece in black (or brown, so the sepia portions would stand out), and go for a real film-reel look. I also learned the importance of doing your  math ahead of time, as the quilt grew from "gee, I hope it's long enough to cover her lap" to "gee I hope she can find someone to help her fold it, it's taller than she is." But I loved working with the fabric, and the methodical nature of piecing the front. The back gave me some fits - it's made entirely of rejected front fabric and bits left over fabric from fussy cutting - but I can't argue with how well it turned out. This quilt was professionally quilted by Mary Ann Tate, who I love and who did a completely phenomenal job on it. My Mother in Law is going to love it when she receives it, but I need to finish giving her all the pillows first.




Too funny!!!  Sounds like a fun challenge to have though.  Such a neat idea!  Of course now I have to know if you've ever had a quilt go terribly wrong?



Remember, you're talking to someone who is most proud of her 7-foot "lap quilt." I wouldn't say I've ever had a project go terribly *wrong,* but many, many things I have made have not gone according to plan. 

Michelangelo once said "every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is up to the sculptor to discover it." I think that holds true in its own way for quilting. You have fabric and you have a pattern. A lot of quilters are perfectionists and spend large amounts of energy trying to get the fabric to fit the pattern, but sometimes the wisest thing to do is go with the flow. Give the fabric its own voice, and accept that it will talk back sometimes; add a little more sashing here than there if you need to, let your points not line up perfectly if they're not going to, and don't agonize quite so much about cutting repeats right. Add blocks and other details where you need to. There's very little that elbow grease and a little more fabric in a complimentary color cannot fix (believe me, I know) and often so-called "mistakes" are the most eye-catching part of the quilt in a good way. I'm not saying I never use my seam ripper -  because I do, a lot - but I also try to consider whether a mistake adds value before I undo it.

Amen to going with the flow!  

So, if you had to choose a blog to visit or a book to read what would it be? 

Stitched in Color. Lots of inspiration, great ambiance, and a wide variety of followers with good ideas.


Speaking of good ideas, what would your advice be to someone new to the world of modern quilting?


Anything goes, so go with what pleases you. And don't be afraid to leave perfectionism at the door; you can always pick it back up if you find it suits you, but it shouldn't get between you and creating something you love.


I couldn't have said it better myself!  Thanks for being interviewed, Robin!  You have such a fun and cheery outlook on life and quilting!!!!  :)   LOVE it and can't wait to see more of your work.


Sew long for now!
-Amanda-

2 comments:

  1. As usual, I LOVE this interview. So glad to learn about Robin. I hope I get to see this famed Star Wars quilt one day!

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