Quilter stitches together an art show
Nancy Frith loves scuba diving and quilting, so it is no surprise that the two often meet.
An exhibit of her marine-inspired quilts will go on display at Homer’s Cafe at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art on Thursday.
It is the 59-year-old’s first solo show.
Q: How did you start quilting?
A: I have sewn ever since I was a child. When my two daughters, Allison and Claire, were little I made clothes for them. As they got bigger I didn’t do that any more, so I got into quilting. I grew tired of using other people’s patterns so I started making my own. I consider myself more of a fabric artist than a quilter.
Q: When did you start diving?
A: My husband is Bermudian and I am from Canada. We lived in Bermuda in the 1980s, then moved to Canada where we lived on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. We moved back to Bermuda a few years ago. I started scuba diving as soon as we moved back and I got certified in 2008. I also snorkel quite a bit, and that led me to do a lot of quilting of underwater images. I quilt what I know and what I am interested in.
Q: What sort of materials do you use?
A: I buy a lot of fabric from Gibbons Company or when I am away. I paint some of the fabric. I do memory quilts, which aren’t always marine-themed. For these I have taken baby clothes given to me by clients and sewn pieces of them into quilts.
One client wanted to remember when her daughter was little, so I used the baby’s onesies and dresses to make a quilt. One gave me a bunch of her daughter’s old dance costumes. That was fun.
Another client wanted to remember her father who had passed away. She had a bunch of his old dress shirts and shorts. In some places on the quilt I sewed on pieces of sleeve. I left the sleeve intact so that she could put her hand into the sleeve or unbutton the shirt. When she came in and saw the quilt hanging on the wall she started crying. She said that it was like having a piece of her dad.
Q: What are the challenges with doing something like this?
A: I don’t know what the challenges are. It is just fun playing around with the different shapes and fabrics.
Q: Is quilting something that is catching on, or are quilters an ageing population?
A: No, it is becoming more of an art form now. There are still people who do traditional quilting. I belong to the Bermuda Quilters Guild and there are about 35 members. Most of them do traditional quilting.
I go to quilt shows in the United States and a lot of people in those shows do art quilts.
Q: Why is that?
A: Sewing machines are getting better. You can now use a lot of sewing machines like pencils to almost draw a design onto the fabric, but with thread rather than ink.
Q: Do you prefer smaller quilts to full-size ones?
A: I got into the smaller ones because I just have a tabletop sewing machine.
Some quilters in the United States and Canada are using these big long-arm machines, where you can roll a great big quilt on to it and just topstitch sections at a time. The smaller ones take eight to ten hours to make, the larger ones take much longer. I just sold a four foot by five foot memory quilt for $700.
Q: How much will you be selling your work for at Homer’s?
A: It will range for between $100 and $500.
Mrs Frith’s exhibit will be at Homer’s Cafe at Masterworks Museum until February 19.