|Denyse Schmidt Lecture at Northern VA Community College in Alexandria, VA. Sponsored by the DC Modern Quilt Guild.|
A former graphic designer and graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Denyse Schmidt has been sewing since she was a young girl, taught by her mother. As a professional seamstress, Denyse worked on everything from tutus and bishop’s mitres to fine clothing. She brings these eclectic influences together in patchwork quilts characterized by simple graphics, rich color, and quality workmanship.
Firmly rooted in the techniques of quilt-making in this country, Denyse reinterprets tradition to make modern functional quilts that are fresh and offbeat. Her Couture custom quilts, in production since 1996, are pieced to order in her studio and hand-quilted by Amish women in Minnesota. Denyse Schmidt Works, a line of machine-quilted pillows and quilts with an industrial-chic aesthetic, are made at her studio located in a Bridgeport, CT factory building. Clients of DSQ have included The Philip Johnson Glass House, Ralph Pucci International, Takashimaya, The University of Michigan Art Museum, The American Folk Art Museum, and The Whitney Museum Store.
You can find a full bio of her here.
The lecture was really fascinating; Denyse talked about her quilting journey from a graphic designer to a quilter. I was particularly interested in her approach to her business. She had a great slideshow with pictures of her work and great motivational quotes along the way.
If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. --George Harrison
There were two main points I took away from the lecture. One is to be ready for unexpected opportunities. Denyse got involved in several business opportunities that she wasn't looking for, but that she said "Yes" to.
You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. --Jack London
Be ready. Take a chance. Don't be afraid. I'm writing this, in part, to remind myself of this. It's a good mantra.
The second, which is a kind of corollary to the first, is that there is life after failure. Denyse talked about her failures as well as her successes. It's pretty inspirational to hear someone at that level say they've failed...and then had success again.
When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel. - Eloise Ristad
We all have failures, large and small. A failed quilt that we really believed in that didn't turn out the way we thought when we started. A harsh critique. A show with no sales. A birthday where we forgot to send a card. A day where we made no progress on our art. We are our own harshest critic. The world's full of people who have failed spectacularly, in full view, and keep moving on. I'm forever grateful that my failures are mostly tucked away in a corner of my studio in a pile of UFOs (UnFinished Objects). (Gotta go through those and rework some, give away some and throw the rest away. *makes note on to-do list* Others are tucked into sketchbooks--partially fleshed out ideas that didn't come together.
Speaking of UFOs, this is probably my favorite quote about failure and it is soooo applicable for quilters:
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. - Thomas A. Edison
Doesn't that make you think of your UFOs? Hey, if it worked for Edison, it works for me.
As I write this, it's a cooler-than-normal morning. The windows and patio door are all open and I can hear the birds singing. I think it's time to go to work and see what small successes (and failures) I can find in the day.
Have a great day!