Growing up, I loved arts and crafts of all kinds, especially Creepy Crawlers and airy candles made by pouring wax into ice-packed orange juice concentrate cans.
I couldn’t draw worth a dime - my college drawing professor gave me a B, which plummeted by GPA. So unfair! OK, my drawings were terrible, but I TRIED! Sadly for me [cue tiny violins], he graded on results, not effort.
What I was naturally good at was writing, so I had a long career in journalism, including two decades writing about health for Rodale Press's Prevention magazine and health books. I learned to love explaining things that could make people’s lives better.
A chance visit to a quilt show in 1991 plunged me into this unexpected hobby. I started with Eleanor Burns’ “An Amish Quilt in a Day” book. I aspire to pay forward what Eleanor did for me and so many others – opening up a world of art-making that’s low on judgement and high on fun. I am living proof that even people who aren’t great at drawing can and do make wonderful quilts!
I see my books, patterns and classes as not only the fulfillment of my lifelong compulsions to make stuff and explain things, but also a continuation of my career writing about health. Quilting is SO freaking HEALTHY - it makes me laugh, play, stand up, sit down, stand up again, hike between the sewing machine, cutting table, design wall, and, okay, too often, the refrigerator; do complicated arithmetic (also not a raw talent of mine, but I tell myself it’s brain exercise); and, for bicep strength, ironing, rotary cutting, and stroking beautiful fabric. Even if you’re a natural introvert, it gives you a social life. Quilters are great about cheering each other on. I believe everyone should try quilting, unless you absolutely know from experience that you hate working with your hands (and NOT because an art professor gave you a sad little B on your earnest self-portrait. I’m not bitter. Much.)
My drawing has improved since college, by the way, thanks partly to quilting, but mostly to getting my hands on the book ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’. I promise that if you do the exercises in that book, you will astonish yourself. Today I considered my sketching skills to be downright adequate, enough to do the illustrations for my books and patterns. I choose to believe that my college drawing professor might change my grade to a strong B+.
I love the quilt world, I love that there are beginners of all ages, I love that people can come to it from wildly different backgrounds and life experiences, and talents or lack thereof, and get so much out of it. I love that the vast majority of people are kind, supportive, cheer each other on, and are dedicated to lifelong learning!
My quilts have been juried into national and global shows, including: Houston/IQA/IQF/International Quilt Festival (including two in their Tactile Architecture section); Road to California; QuiltCon; Mancuso shows. Two quilts have won awards in national shows. My work has also been shown in museum venues, and I have a piece currently travelling through museums in the US and abroad, in Studio Art Quilter’s Association shows.
My articles and/or my quilts have been featured in national and international quilt magazines and/or websites, including: Curated Quilts; Uppercase; SAQA Journal (Studio Art Quilt Associates); Quiltmania (No. 148); Machine Quilting Unlimited; Quilter's Newsletter Magazine; Uppercase; Traditional Quiltworks, The Quilt Life; The Quilt Show, and others.
I have posted hundreds of blog articles about quilting since 2011 at Gefiltequilt.com. It includes many free tutorials (click on “tutorial” in the word cloud on the sidebar).
My first website, set up in the 1990s, was Judaiquilt.com. It’s devoted to all kinds of fiber art Judaica, including wedding canopies (chuppot), tallitot (prayer shawls), matzoh covers and more. One of my yarmulke’s won the community Choice Award in the Baycrest “Cover Thy Head” exhibition of kippot at the Morris and Sally Justein Heritage Museum in Toronto, Canada, 2012. I served a two-year term as president of the international Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework.
In the Covid pandemic, I created two different free mask pattern tutorials, which can be found on my blog - the simple pleated mask and the roomier mask.