Where it All Began

Beginner Sampler by Bridget O'FlahertyMy Very First Quilt; a Sampler.

Even in the beginning back in 1991, I was pushing the boundaries – black with a floral print was looked at with disapproval from the traditional quilters. It didn’t stop me then, and likely won’t stop me now. With no specific direction in mind for my life at that point, I had tried University, was a ski bum and had just met my current partner. I had done one quilt by hand with my mother in a class and was not really interested in the investment of time it took to make quilts. I was sure I was never going to make another sampler quilt.

Then my mother offered to let me work in her quilt store

Being 21, with no direction, I took the job. It was a decision that changed the course of my life and has forever shaped me. I began seeing quilting in a whole new light. Where I had seen little old ladies at the church group before I was now seeing art. New magazines and books with machine work and landscape quilts… THAT was inspiring and that was what I wanted to know how to do. I spent the next few years learning how to work on the machine and mostly did geometric quilts with cutting and strip piecing.

I took courses from pioneers in the art quilt world Jean Boyd, Ann Bird, Joen Wolfrom. They were emerging as quilt artists and their quilts were astounding – cutting edge. I was so excited by it, I wanted to be part of that quilt world and decided to pursue it as a career path.

My First Sale

The first quilt I ever sold was a Double Attic Windows. I was then asked to do an interpretive piece of the 4 seasons…It was the best thing that had ever happened. I was suddenly thinking of myself as a creative person.

Over the years I added a little embroidery here and there, I tried strip piecing landscapes and slowly evolved my embroidery techniques. There were no courses, no books and very few quilters using free-form embroidery in their quilts. I loved the detail I could achieve, I love playing with layers of colour to get the shading just so. I loved sitting at the machine and watching my image come to life.I have been doing my quilts now for over 20 years. The last few years have been slower in production for me as life has a way of dictating how much art one can actually produce. Babies/children, building a house, starting a 2nd and 3rd career to keep it all together has forced me to put my art on the back burner. But the time will be right again…