Nature, whether a topographical scene, a forest, plant, animal, insect, bird, or an interaction between any of these living things, vignettes of wonder stop us in our tracks and appeal to our senses. As we stroll through a park, walk along on a trail in a nature preserve, or work in a garden, our experiences and observations affect us in ways we may not even be aware of. Lasting impressions, we recall and connect to these nature scenes to inspire, calm, motivate, and center our souls. To help people explore and tell their nature-inspired stories with fabric art, I developed a Quilt the Forest Workshop.
I’ve taught the workshop at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, ArtPlay, Little River Canyon Center, Birmingham Audubon Mountain Workshop, the Trussville Library, and Common Threads.
During a three-hour class, small blocks are designed and hand-sewn using a canvas square as a base, colorful felts, and embroidery threads. Participants are asked to recall their favorite nature scenes, design a vignette, cut out the symbols, layer colors, and complete the piece with needle and thread. For full-day or longer workshops, large pieces are made using scraps of fabrics machine-sewn onto canvas base cloths.
More of a facilitator than a teacher when I lead textile art workshops, I strive to prompt ideas, encourage participants to develop their own methods, to tap into their creativity, forget the rules, and just go for it. I’m always amazed to see what people come up with, and even those who think they are not creative, will create beautiful and intricate works of art.
I like to think of the Quilt the Forest Workshop as a continual community quilt. Blocks are individually sewn and virtually pieced together on Instagram on the feed, #QuiltTheForest.