When people ask me where I am from, I always tell them that I grew up in Tempe, Arizona, even though I was born in Iowa. The eleven years from sixth grade through ASU graduation were the most important, formative years of my life. I left Arizona in 1964 and did not return (except for visits) until 2002. During those early Arizona years, I learned to sew garments and tried out many types of needlework—embroidery, knitting, and crochet.
After five years as a U. S. Air Force officer, I married, and moved to southern Wisconsin. When our two girls were young, I was involved in teaching children’s crafts at their school, church, and Girl Scouts.
I did not start quilting until my older daughter left home for college in 1988, and I moved the sewing machine into her room. I joined the local quilt guild and took some classes. From then on, I was obsessed with quilting. I started by making traditional quilts, but very soon was drawn to art quilts, making wall hangings and quilted garments. Of all the types of art I had tried, I finally discovered that fabric was my medium. I have experimented with fabric paints, bleach discharge, thread painting, and sashiko. My latest technique is translating my own photos into stained glass silk landscapes.
When I retired, after 24 years with the IRS, I bought a house and moved to Mesa, Arizona. I turned the master bedroom into my quilt studio, the walk-in closet holds my stash, and the bath tub (with a hinged cover) hides my UFOs. The large front room with a long table became my class room and a place for friends to gather and sew. I joined two quilt guilds, took classes, taught classes and presented guild programs/trunk shows.
I have won ribbons for many of my pieces at local shows, but always hoped I could someday get a quilt juried into a national show. Two years ago when a quilting friend from Wisconsin was visiting me, I pulled a piece out of the UFO tub and asked her if she would do something with it. She did, then sent it back for me to work on. After another trip back and forth, it was finished. It was juried into the AQS Phoenix Quilt Show and the Madison Quilt Expo.
The quilt I am most proud of is my Arizona Centennial quilt depicting my early years in Arizona. I was honored to be included with five other talented art quilters to make the slice quilt, The Spirit of Sedona. It definitely challenged me, but I am delighted with the group’s result.
One of my favorite group quilting activities is a do-it-yourself round robin. Rather than passing the quilt around for others to work on, you do all of work. You start with a center block of your own design. Each month, you are told what your next technique or design will be. Allowing for rather loose interpretations, this can be a very creative activity. I have made two of these quilts, and am very pleased with the results.
Evelyn Link Gallery