Five Minutes with quilter Blue Mountain Daisy
Fresh back from the Houston International Quilt Festival, and ahead of Pour L'amour du Fil, we caught up with Rachael 'Blue Mountain' Daisy to talk quilts, flowers her new book
Rachael Daisy with her quilts
ECT: When and how did your interest in quilts begin?
RD: I discovered patchwork and quilting about 10 years ago 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 in with my busy work schedule. It was around the time of the Sydney Quilt Show and, on the spur of the moment, Mr Daisy and I thought we’d go and have a look. It was like wandering into wonderland; there were so many beautiful quilts and aisles of fabric. The spark was lit and I went home that evening with a bag of quilting tools.
Ignoring some friendly advice about starting with a pot holder or cushion, I just jumped in and made a queen-sized quilt of squares. Beginner’s confidence meant that I didn’t have a pattern, (how hard could it be to sew squares together after all!), but I wasn’t brave enough to machine quilt it, so I did it entirely by hand 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 favourites.
ECT: You were a florist for 20 years before you took up quilting - are there similarities between the two fields?
RD: I see my quilting very much as a continuation of a creative life journey and I apply many of the creative processes and design elements I learned through my work with flowers to quilting. My use of colour, for example, seems to be quite brave, but when I tell people to imagine the colours in a flower shop, it makes sense. I love that both floristry and quilting make people smile and add beauty to the world.
Jennifer's Joy by Rachael Daisy
ECT: How would you sum up your style?
RD: ‘A kangaroo on a pogo stick!’ I jump around using different colours, styles and techniques - one minute I'll be making a quick, colourful, scrappy, liberated quilt and the next I'll be working on a slow project of hand sewing hexagons. I really enjoy the variety of styles and techniques quilting has to offer.
Other people have describe my quilts as whimsical, 'swellegant', happy-go-lucky and having an added twist. A friend once told me that I walk the line between traditional and modern, which I think is an apt description of my quilts. I tend to take inspiration from traditional techniques and see how I can use them in contemporary ways.
I like to play with colour, preferring bright, mixed patterned fabrics and including texture where I can, either through quilting or with different fabrics. I seem to be working more and more with three dimensional elements such as blocks with folded points, yo-yos, appliqued doilies etc.
ECT: You've just been to Houston - what were your three favourite things?
RD: I’ve just had the most wonderful time in Houston visiting the Quilt Market and Quilt Festival. Firstly, I loved meeting so many lovely people - I always say if you are with quilters you are with friends. And the amount of quilts and the high standard of work at the show was amazing. There were all types, from modern art quilts to beautiful vintage quilts.
The cherry on top of my visit was winning a 2nd place ribbon in the Alternative Techniques category for my modern Yo-Yo quilt, Fair & Square. It was such an honour and a wonderful experience to be included in the winner’s ceremony.
Fair & Square by Rachael Daisy
ECT: Looking ahead to Pour L'amour du Fil, what makes the show there stand out and can you give us a taste of what you'll be showing?
RD: I’m looking forward to Pour l’amour du Fil for many reasons. It has a reputation for being one of the best shows in Europe for a start, and there will be lots of outstanding quilters from all around the world with display booths full of beautiful quilts. It will also be great to wander around the shops to see what new, wonderful and inspiring goodies are on offer.
My booth will be full of my signature folded fabric quilts. I always enjoy showing and sharing these quilts in shows because they're so different and viewers can admire the texture, embellishments and colours in real life. I’m also looking forward to teaching workshops.
ECT: Tell us about your new book - what's it about and when will it be published?
RD: In 2016 I won Best in Show at the Sydney Quilt Show, Australia, with a quilt called Whizz Bang. It's a sampler of folded fabric blocks using old techniques but presented with a new, contemporary twist. My book is about how to make quilts using these folded fabric techniques. We’ve been working hard to get it published by mid-April in time for Pour L’amour du Fil.
Whizz Bang! by Rachael Daisy
Rachael will be giving a talk about her beautiful quilts at Pourl'Amour du Fil as part of our tour programme. You can find out more here