Friday, December 21, 2012

NNJMQG Profile... Rayna Gillman

Hi Guilders! Don't you just hate when life gets in the way of quilt stuff? I'm sorry to be late in posting another profile, this time of our own Rayna Gillman, author of Create Your Own Free Form Quilts and Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth. Please keep the submissions coming (email me at melintheattic(at)gmail(dot)com) -- they won't post until the new year, but we'll continue the process of getting to know one another.

Name and location
Rayna Gillman, West Orange, NJ

Me on Quilting Arts TV.

What do you do in your non-quilting life?
Do I have a non-quilting life??  If I’m not in the studio I’m blogging, marketing, developing workshops, sending out contracts and supply lists, getting on and off planes, teaching, and writing books or magazine articles.  Glamorous, it’s not!  I do manage to squeeze in a social life – believe it or not – and I find time for my kids and grands,.

When did you start quilting?

Fell in love an antique quilt and couldn’t afford to buy it so I thought, “I can do that.”  In 1974 there was basically one book, 101 Patchwork Patterns (I still have it and it is the best) and no such thing as classes.  I found a teacher at the Montclair Art Museum who was a real quilter and was very relaxed about seams and matching. She always said “do the best you can” and that’s all I needed to hear.  If I had had one of those self-appointed quilt police teachers I would never have taken to it!  After that, I was self-taught and just experimented.  I never took another quilting class.

How would you describe your quilts?
Free-spirited and original.  I stopped using patterns in 1984.

Do you have favorite colors, fibers, designs, techniques?
No favorite colors, although I hate pink (but you probably already know that). These days I tend to use a lot of acid green, purple, and orange in with everything else – but generally I am not a primary color person. I love working with 100% cotton. Designs?  My own, which evolve as I work.  I never plan ahead.  As far as techniques – I love printing with thickened dyes and screen printing with textile paints – printing my own fabric or improving some of the ugly ones.

What inspires you?
 Anything and everything: a particular fabric (one I’ve printed) is a good starting place.  I love an urban feel – New York City’s grit, graffiti and old buildings feed my soul.

Do you have a favorite quilt, or one that you are most proud of?
Two favorites:  I think these are two of my best pieces.
Early Frost 2006

Harvest 2011

What are your favorite fabrics to work with?
Uh – my own handprinted fabrics and the gorgeous Indian batiks from  Usha of Handloom Batik.

Where do you sew?
Mostly in my small, cluttered sewing room but sometimes in my studio in East Orange.

What is your workspace like?
At home – did I say small and cluttered? An understatement.  My studio outside of the house is mostly a print studio – it is a happy place in an old industrial complex. High ceilings, southern exposure, great karma.  I am always happy there.

What kind of machine do you use? 
At home a Janome 6500 which I bought used from a friend. I love it.  In the studio, my wonderful old Bernina 1020 that I bought used about 15 years ago. It is a workhorse and sews like a dream.

What is your favorite part of the quilting process?
Designing on the wall, as I go along.

What is your least favorite?
The actual quilting, although since I don’t try to free motion any more I hate it less.

What is your favorite quilt-related reading source?
Catalogs from Quilt National and Visions – and my own two books, of course!  I don’t really use books.

Do you have a blog or online photo album of your work? 
Yes, my blog is  and my website, where you can see some of my work is

What are you working on now? 
Putting the facing on my latest quilt and getting another one ready to layer and stitch.  Never enough time.

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