Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Artist of the Month~ Tarabu

Contrary to employing some quilting techniques, I do not consider myself a quilter. I do not make actual, full size quilts. Recently, I've had some experience with helping people with quilts. This has lead me to realize I really do not want to become a quilter AND to have a greater appreciation for those that are.

Quilts, in general, have a major role recording history. There is a broader perspective of chronically women's work throughout ages that did not deem such talents notable, or other otherwise recordable. For example, there has been much study done into the use of quilts as 'road markers' to the travelers on the Underground Railroad. These pieces were used to give warnings, welcome and guidance to people on the arduous path to freedom.

In addition, quilts have acted as status symbols in times when meticulously handcrafted items were considered luxurious. In the Victorian-era, even tiny scraps of silk and velvet were saved from dress making and re-used in crazy quilts. On a more personal level, quilts have become priceless heirlooms that are passed from generation to generation and tell a familial history. To read more about the stories quilts tell, check out this website.

Tarabu's work not only continues some of these traditions, but thrives on it. Her own work is a lovely combination of an educated, yet whimsical nature, cute vintage fabrics and painterly free motion sewing. She does custom work that takes personal artifacts and creates a memorial to that person and their own life. The "Boxer Quilt", below, speaks directly to documenting personal histories.

Read on to find out her own personal philosophies behind her work:

Q~How did you get started?

A~ My mother taught me to sew basic shapes and crochet when I was I child, and I learned to paint in college, but I didn't start to quilt until I got pregnant. It didn't seem terribly appropriate to sniff turpentine and oil paint for two. After my first child I made a photo quilt for faraway grandparents, my husband bought me a new sewing machine and it's been uphill ever since!

Q~Why do you continue?

A~ One of the great benefits of quilting is that I can literally stop in the middle of whatever I'm doing, come back to it, and it will be none the worse for the time. Painting takes a good twenty minutes of cleaning my brushes and putting away my gear every time. With quilting I get all the fun of combining shapes and colors, without the stress of buffer-time.

Q~What is a great(or greatest) success story?

A~ The underpants quilt! A friend had novelty boxer shorts the way some men have novelty ties. Boxer shorts that he had been saving for years with the belief that they would turn into a quilt one day. When his wife (a gifted scientist who thinks he's barmy sometimes) and his daughter (who, at eleven, is entitled to believe her father's nuts) both balked at the idea of turn Popeye and various cartoon critters into a quilt, he came to me. What started as a few decades of novelty fabric became a queen-sized quilt.

For me it was huge, the learning curve of making jersey knits and tightly woven shirting play nice together, not to mention asking all those colors to speak to each other was quite an achievement.

Q~What is one of your greatest failures?

A~You mean I have to pick one? Out of that great big closet full of UFO's (*Un-Finished Objects, for the non-crafty types).

Q~Where do you get your inspiration?

A~ 10th-grade geometry. I wish I could say it was nature or the sunset or something poetic, but mostly I start with a cool fabric and contemplate how best to pair it with triangles and right angles.

Q~Why do you make/create what you do?

A~I'm addicted.

Q~Where is your favorite place to sell? Or Favorite show?

A~ I like live shows, especially neighborhood festivals, like the Green Man Festival in Greenbelt, MD every May.

Q~What is one thing you love about your business?

A~ Knowing that I create comfort - a quilt is like a long-distance hug. I love knowing that what I make is going to make someone smile and keep them warm.

Q~What is one thing you loathe?

A~ seam-ripping

Q~What is your dream about your art?

A~ That I will be able to do it until I'm too old to walk.

Q~What is your mission?

A~ To create beautiful, functional objects.

Q~Where are you based?

A~ Maryland!

Q~Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

A~ Ireland, preferably the quiet, backwater southwest coast.

Q~What would you be doing if not this?

A~ Painting - preferably ridiculously bright tropical birds and fish; feather by feather and scale by scale

Q~What is next?

A~ Realism - one day I want to translate what I see in the world into two-dimensional pieced fabrics.

Q~What is your favorite question to ask people?

A~ Who made that?

Q~ What is your answer to that question?
A~ Varies

Q~ What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen sparrow?

A~ Not sure, but according to Douglas Adams, the mathematical notation of the curve of the wing can likely be translated into a string sonata that would make a http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifbrave man weep.

You can check out Tarabu's works online at:



Or, go get an in person 'fabric hug' at:

THIS WEEKEND: 5/7-8 - Greenbelt Green Man Festival

5/14-15 - Stone Fence Gardens Music Festival

6/11-12 - Columbia Art Park

Take a moment to appreciate someone's handcrafted work today~Jen

Green Tip~ Recycled like it is 1899

Create your own Victorian style crazy quilt! Not all of them were created with expensive silks and imported lace. You can use everyday cotton t shirts, ripped jeans and stained ties. Why not collect used clothing from each member of your family and create memory crazy pillows for Christmas? You have 7 months!

To find more information on how to 'crazy quilt', check out this website that shows step by step directions for creating a block in this style.


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