At the end of November 2015, Lisa Walton spoke about her quilting journey at the Quilt Study Group of NSW meeting. Most of us first met Lisa at her ‘Dyed and Gone to Heaven’ stalls at the quilt shows where she sells her hand-dyed fabrics and books, beads, fabric paints dyes and markers, and kits. Her quilts have won prizes in Australia, Paducah USA and Birmingham UK.
Her topic ‘Leap and the Net will appear’ became clear when she stated at first that her motto is ‘failure is an option’ and then recounted how many ‘leaps’ have been responsible for the development of her different skills and business opportunities taken.
Lisa’s first quilt made 20 years ago was a traditional quilt made from charm squares that ended up as the dog’s quilt. Her next one was made from Laura Ashley squares in a Mariner’s Compass pattern but unfortunately she ‘missed the quarter inch seam allowance’ – hence her ’15 minutes of traditional quilting’. At a SCQuilters Christmas Party her Secret Santa gift was a pack of hand dyed fabrics. She was fascinated by it and this led her to a class in USA in fabric dyeing - thus starting her journey in making hand dyed fabric and using them in her quilts.
When others wanted to buy the fabric her dyeing business started. Then when they wanted patterns to use, the first leap in her career started. She made a quilt using her fabrics but when it was rejected by a well-know quilting magazine as being ‘too contemporary’, she decided to follow her heart and, rather than produce what was then ‘commercial’, put together kits of her own fabrics and her own style of pattern and sold them direct.
When Quilters Companion asked Lisa to contribute to their videos she took a leap to putting herself out in front of the camera. At the same time she started producing associated simple kits for each of the projects. When her husband retired she was still working fulltime so when he offered to help in her business by cutting fabric and dyeing it, she ‘leapt’ at the offer.
Her next leap occurred when commercial batik fabrics became popular and the market for hand-dyed fabrics slowed. She changed the business accordingly to producing custom ordered fabrics, stocking Australian-made fabric paints and dyes, selling beads, and value-adding fabric by over stamping. At this time too she started using more textured fabrics, playing with beading, paints, surface design and stencilling on her own quilts.
Her next leap occurred when she was awarded the Jewel Pearce Patterson Scholarship for Quilting Teachers in 2010. As a result she developed new classes using overlay paint techniques. After she sat next to the C&T Artistic director in Houston she ‘leapt’ at the chance to write her first book – ‘Beautiful Building Block Quilts’
When her second book was cancelled, she leapt into the world of self-publishing and started the ‘Creative Journeys’ series which cover the different techniques she uses in her work. Another leap came when the Quilters Guild of NSW asked her to be a featured artist at the 2011 Sydney Quilt Show and her work to date was exhibited (You can see some of them at http://thelastpiece.typepad.com/the_last_piece/2011/06/its-a-wrap.html)
Lisa is an active user of Facebook and contributes greatly to discussion on SCQuilters. She teaches classes on free-form fabric construction, indigo and shibori dyeing, fabric and thread dyeing, stamp carving, screen printing, beading, embellishing, couching and quilting around the world. She said she is inspired by her travels and continues to take tours of quilters to Italy, USA and Japan. All this while running her business ‘Dyed and Gone to Heaven’ with her husband, and working as Vice-President – Administration and Oceania representative for Studio Art Quilt Associates Inc. She is certainly a wonderful example of why we should take every opportunity to ‘leap’.