Welcome to the ninth in my Three Questions series, where I ask makers about their creative practices. I’ve known Rachael since 2016, when I wrote an article about her and her quilts for Quilters Companion magazine. I’m so pleased to be able to feature her work here.
Rachaeldaisy is a quilt maker with a playful name, who enjoys taking traditional techniques and presenting them in fresh ways. She uses many 3D elements in her work such as Yo-Yos, Prairie Points, wool felt, appliquéd and pieced denim, doilies and decorative trims. She jumps around in styles from vintage to improv to contemporary modern but, in all her quilts, she aims to capture a sense of joy. She knows she’s succeeded when the words often used to describe her style are ‘whimsical’, ‘creative’ and ‘happy’.
How did you get started on your creative path?
“I had a very creative upbringing. My parents were artists and our house was full of art. There were colourful rooms with abstract paintings, big bold Marimekko curtains, Indian textiles, Sri Lankan batik wall hangings, Japanese painted scrolls, tables and shelves of contemporary ceramics. Some of my earliest memories are of being in art galleries.
“I started playing with fabric as a little girl, spending time with my grandmother. She would make clothes and I’d use her scraps to make clothes for my dolls. She later taught me embroidery stitches, English Paper Piecing and basic dressmaking. It was always a special treat to go to a fabric shop with her, with all of those colours, patterns and textures. Then seeing the fabrics turned into a garment that someone could wear was quite magical. My creativity as a child was always encouraged and I always had various projects on the go from drawing and painting, pressing flowers, collage, cross stitch, tapestry and sewing experiments, clothes, toys etc.
“I did art in high school and the advice from my art teacher as I was leaving was to never stop making art so I’ve always been creative in some form or other.
“I became a florist in my early twenties which gave me the chance to play with colour, texture and design, not only with flower arrangements of all types but also eye-catching window displays, installations for large events, fashion and magazine shoots.”
“I discovered patchwork and quilting in my mid thirties when I arrived in a new city and decided I needed a hobby. I looked around for dressmaking classes but couldn’t find any that fitted with my busy work schedule. Around that time the Sydney Quilt Show was on and, on the spur of the moment, Mr Daisy and I thought we’d go and have a look. It was as though we’d wandered into a wonderland with so many beautiful quilts and endless aisles of fabric. The spark was lit and I went home that evening with a bag of quilting tools.
“I ignored some friendly advice to start with a potholder or cushion and jumped in and made a queen size quilt of squares. I didn’t have a pattern because I thought “How hard can it be to sew squares together?”. I wasn’t brave enough to machine quilt it so I entirely hand quilted it with stitches that would make the quilt police laugh. Looking back I realise I pretty much did everything wrong but the quilt has lasted all these years and is still one of my very favourite quilts.
“I see my quilting very much as a continuation of a creative life journey with many of the creative processes and design elements that I learned through my work with flowers being applied to my quilting practice.”
What satisfies you about the creative work you do?
“Quilts are a wonderful creative medium because they involve playing with colour, pattern, texture and the result is an item that adds beauty to our lives whether it be on a bed, couch or hanging on a wall. I love that there are many different styles and endless techniques to try.
“Setting myself a challenge and bringing it to fruition is always a great feeling especially as some of my quilts are quite different and use unusual construction methods that I don’t know will work until they’re finished and hanging. The next step from that is the happy buzz of seeing a quilt hanging in a quilt show or art gallery.
“Of course sharing my work with others and having a wonderful response is always encouraging. But the most satisfying feeling of all is seeing or hearing that one of my quilts added a smile to someone’s day.”
How do you stay inspired to create?
“As a professional quilt designer and teacher my obligations to make new quilts are a big drive to be creative. Inspiring students is a great reward for coming up with new designs. My years working in flower shops has given me a good work ethic for working steadily in a creative way, to stay inspired, with an ability to meet deadlines. I’m also inspired by quilt guild challenges, and to make work for art exhibitions.
“Working on a series of quilts does wonders to spark my imagination. Choosing an idea, element or technique and seeing where I can take it. For example my denim quilt series in which I’ve been exploring traditional quilt patterns made in contemporary ways using recycled denim. Or a recent group of quilts using vintage tea towels. I often have sketches for more designs in these series than I have time to make.
“I see being creative as a way of life. Creativity is expressed through what I wear, the way my home is decorated, even my cooking is creative (I rarely follow a recipe). A simple walk around the neighbourhood can be a wonderful creative time taking photos, making up haikus about the environment (I really do this) or consciously looking for colour combinations or shapes in nature that inspire. Cloud watching is a happy playground for the mind. So even when I’m not feeling inspired to work on a quilt I’m always busy being creative in other ways, and this often ends up feeding inspiration back into my sewing.”
Follow Rachaeldaisy online
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Thank you Rachael, for sharing your creative life.