I had the privilege of hearing Denyse Schmidt speak at the New England Quilt Museum this past Friday. She is a much admired figure in the Modern Quilting movement, although she doesn’t consider herself solely a modern quilter.
She was raised by parents who lived through the Depression and who embodied the philosophy of “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” As a grad student at the Rhode Island School of Design, she majored in graphic design, took classes in stone carving, and developed her own font. After graduation she moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut and eventually started her own business, which has led her to design fabric for Free Spirit and Fabric Traditions (the former line is sold to independent fabric stores and the latter to chain stores).
Denyse believes in “haphazard, accidental beauty” and feels it can be found everywhere. She closed her talk with an assortment of images from the mundane (battered metal doors) to the inspirational (a church billboard with the assertion that “Everyone Can Sing” – one of her core beliefs). Her words were accompanied by a slide show of images and a sprinkling of quotes from writers and artists. My favorite was from Jack London: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”