Quilting must be in Mary Alice’s genes! Her maternal grandmother, mother and most of her aunts quilted – mostly of necessity, but it probably provided a creative outlet as well as time to relax from the demands of household and farm chores.
As a child she remembers being the “needle threader” at quilting bees. She also recalls visits to relatives where the first order of business – after a filling meal and cleaning up the dishes of course, was a showing of the latest sewing projects and a tour of the flower and vegetable gardens. Is it any wonder that she loves both quilting and gardening?
Her mother, a long time 4-H leader, was her first sewing teacher starting with a feed sack skirt at the age of eight. Mother’s influence was probably responsible for her choosing home economics education in college.
Retired from teaching since 2000, Mary Alice finally has time to focus on her love of quilting and gardening. Gardening pleasure is found as a volunteer gardener at Olbrich Botanical Gardens and in a small backyard garden. Free time has allowed her to study many facets of the quilting world. But in 2008 three things converged that forever changed the focus of her quilting; a digital camera, Solvron®, and an article in the Quilting Arts Magazine. The camera took great close-ups of flowers that she longed to turn into quilts. Solvron®, a water-soluble material could give fabric interesting textural effects. And the article, “Daylily” by Ann Holmes gave her the final piece of the puzzle showing her how to turn photos into a pattern. She was quickly hooked and totally obsessed!
In the quilt world her work would be classified as machine applique. It is based on photos that she manipulates in the computer to create a master pattern and pattern templates. Most of the pieces are cut with seam allowances that are turned under and the pieces are assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. When the piece meets her approval the sewing/quilting begins.
“Mother Nature is the artist in her work” she says. “She created the form and chose the colors. I am the interpreter. I honor her by trying to be as true as possible to the original photo.”