I often get asked how I got started as an working artist or how long I’ve been making quilts. There’s a story behind that, as there often is. Artists always having a story.
We adopted our first son almost nine years ago. When we got him, I really wanted him to have a surf-inspired room. Our house is in Pacific Beach and his name actually means “son of the sea”. But, when I looked around at bedding and/or decor, everything was either super traditional quilting, all pastel or very cartoony. None of which was really up my alley. I wanted something bold and colorful, but classy and cool. I really wanted surfboards on his quilt but not just surfboard quilt blocks. After searching around, I decided I knew what I wanted and I could make it myself. I’ve been sewing since I was ten and though I hadn’t quilted before, I knew I had enough sewing and reupholstering skills to pull it off. Maybe not like a seasoned quilter, but we were the only ones who were going to see it, so it really didn’t matter, right?? So, I bought a bunch of cool Hawaiian prints and some beautiful Indonesian batiks and designed and created the quilt above. It took a while…I wasn’t used to any of the proper techniques and I made things up as I went along. But, I truly loved the way it turned out! It was different from anything else that I had seen out there. In the process, I learned to do what would become a signature technique for me–free-motion quilting. That coupled with my wild color combinations and fun designs, I began to solidify my style and brand. And that led to an idea.
I decided I could make and sell crib quilt versions of this surfboard quilt, and even crib skirts and bumper
pads. I couldn’t find anything like it out there, so I made a boy’s crib quilt and a girl’s version. I love my girl designs to be just as bold and strong as the boy’s designs, so I made them essentially the same but with more fuchsia. They were a hit and I started to get orders. I started getting orders faster than I could really handle
them, and at the time just wasn’t charging enough. And then, we got our second little miracle. We were given the surprise chance to adopt another baby boy. I put the quilting on hold for several years while I took care of my two sweet boys.
About two years ago, I started looking at the possibility of starting my business back up and getting studio
space in The Spanish Village Arts Center in Balboa Park. I submitted my work for the jury process and was accepted for my quilts and textiles! From there, I created more surf-inspired quilts and pillows and began to branch out to ocean-themed pieces, wall art and lots of other subject matter. Though I have branched out to other designs and motifs, I still often create surf quilts and textiles using batiks and Hawaiian prints. My boys are still young and time is still a limited resource, but I’m making it work.
Very few things scream Southern California beach culture like an old VW bus. Especially with a surfboard strapped to the top. I know they came from Germany and originated with no thought of the hippie life, but here, they are nostalgic and look their best with a peace sign wheel cover on the front up against an ocean backdrop. We used to have a white one and though we got tired of repairing it on a regular basis, I do miss roadtripping in it. This quilt was inspired by all the times I’ve seen one, often with the baby blue accents, parked at a beach while a surfer gets ready to head out to catch some waves. I designed it so you would only see half of the classic front end, with it’s signature circle headlights, the old 1960’s split window and of course, a surfboard leaning up against it. You can see the parking lot and posts and in the background, the beautiful California sunset coming to an end. This surfer is heading out for a famous sunset surfing session to relax after a day of work.
The background is a strip quilt and I gradated the colors to capture the darkening sky at dusk and the sunset reflecting off the water. I pieced together the strips and the parking lot colors. The sun, posts and bus are all appliqué. I love the contrasting colors, the larger, rounder shapes of the sun and the bus against the angular lines of the sunset. My backgrounds are often a little impressionistic while the appliqué details clarify what you need to know about the scene. This quilt didn’t last long, and I truly think it is because it’s such a classic, nostalgic image. If you’ve been here in San Diego for any length of time, you’ve seen this play out in person. It still makes me smile.