shop to see what else is there. It was such an interesting and eclectic set of quilts that I was intrigued. So, I asked Terry if she'd like to interview so that I could learn more about her. She agreed to an interview... Hurrah! Now you too may learn about her creative talent.
What originally gave you the idea to create such an interesting Etsy shop?
I wanted to share my art quilts with a wider audience, and my Etsy shop allows me to do that, and make some money too! Also, I find that having the Etsy shop motivates me to keep creating and to finish each project I start.
I started quilting in 1998, and as soon as I discovered the concept of art quilts, I knew I had finally found my creative niche. My style is contemporary. Some of my quilts are pieced, some are fusible appliqué, and some are a combination of techniques. I love bright, intense, complex colors. My favorite color is chartreuse; you’ll find at least a bit of it in almost every one of my quilts. I often use dark backgrounds, as they make the bright colors “pop”.
I seldom have a problem turning my creative ideas into finished art quilts – although the design always evolves during the creative process, and the final quilt is sometimes quite different from my original concept.
Could you share some tips on how someone would go about growing an Etsy shop or online presence?
Take advantage of all the Etsy resources - the Seller Handbook, forums, workshops, etc . Teams are a great resource – I’ve learned so much from the members of the Quiltsy Etsy Team. Good photos and interesting descriptions are so important! However, I would also say don’t try to do everything at once, just start and then tweak as you go along. And most importantly, make what you love, not what you think others want to buy.
What is your main hurdle in running your Etsy site to date?
Not enough time to create new items. First of all, there will never enough time to convert all of my ideas into finished quilts. I have a part-time day job, so my quilt business is not my primary focus. However, even a part-time business requires some time spent on listing and renewing items, paperwork, marketing, etc.
Last year I added appliquéd fabric portraits to my repertoire. The first one I did was a partial face. Then I was commissioned to make a custom portrait of a little boy. It was my first complete facial portrait, but I think it turned out very well, and the boy’s grandmother loved it!
What is the structure behind the scenes—how many people do you have working on your shop at the moment?
It’s just me – hence my comment about not enough time! When I first opened my Etsy shop, my husband did all the set up of the shop, took the photos, wrote the descriptions and listed the items. That gave me more time to create art quilts. But once I had built up a bit of an inventory, he turned over the administration of the shop to me.
How do you promote your business? Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or other?
I must admit that I don’t do any of these - yet. I do send out a periodic newsletter to a group of contacts.
I also enter my quilts in juried shows and submit my quilts to magazines. I have had quilts accepted at the Canadian Quilters’ Association National Juried Show and the International Quilt Festival, and published in Quilting Arts Magazine.
Describe the process of creating one of your handmade items.
Here’s the process I use to create portraits. I start with a photo of the subject. Using photo-imaging software, I change the photo to gray-scale then 'posterize' it so that there are 5 to 6 levels of value. I then select 5 or more fabrics with appropriate values, often using surreal rather than realistic colors. The fabrics are applied with fusible applique, then stitched with coordinating threads. Thread-painting enhances the hair, eyes, and other details.
What do you love most about making your products?
I love designing my art quilts, and selecting fabrics. When I am working on a quilt, I love searching through my stash to find the 'perfect' fabrics. Often, when I'm selecting the fabrics, the colors change dramatically from what I envisioned in the design phase, but that’s part of the fun!
List 3 adjectives that describe you.
cheerful, perfectionist, creative
What is your favorite food?
Definitely savory, not sweet. I love seafood and pasta.
If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?
I don’t really see myself as a specific animal, but I am fascinated with the look of the Great Blue Heron – so tall, slim and graceful – eventually I’ll make an art quilt featuring this beautiful bird.
I certainly had fun reading your thoughtful answers Terry! Making portraits out of quilting seems like magic to me: unfamiliar and amazing all at once. Wow. Thanks for sharing your process too!
Be sure to treat yourself to a few minutes and browse through Terry's amazing shop.