Please give us a review of the history of your business.
I started Blue Nickel Studios mostly as a blog presence in 2006 or so. I wasn’t sure where I would go with it when I started but blogging was THE THING back then and I started sharing my design process and ideas. It was much more journal-like then. At the same time, I started getting patterns published in magazines and then I started designing quilts for various fabric companies. I did some local teaching here and there. In 2011, I joined the editorial team of Generation Q magazine which got me connected with a LOT of people in the quilting industry. Then in 2012, I did my first teaching stint at Quilters Affair in Sisters Oregon. I have been teaching there ever since. Currently, I still have my day job at Costco, and do my Blue Nickel Studios stuff on the side.
How did you choose your business name?
One day, I found a nickel with blue paint on one side and red paint on the other in one of the cash registers. And for some strange reason this blue nickel fascinated me. And I thought, hmm … The Blue Nickel … sounds like a tavern or some other “third place” meetinghouse…..(and it does, doesn’t it??) Now, I should also note that I had been dreaming of opening a Quilt Shop (one of the best kind of third places) for years but NEVER had the capital to start such a venture. When I found this blue nickel, I said to myself, “Wouldn’t The Blue Nickel be a great name for a quilt shop? It sounds more mysterious and intriguing than a typical Scott’s Quilt Shop, right?” But again, the money coming in was really just barely enough to take care of our family of five, let alone start up a quilt shop. I bought that nickel from the register anyway and kept it to keep the dream going … or at least to give me something creative to dream about.
Where are you from?
I have lived in the Pacific Northwest all of my life. We live in a little town called Sultan. It is about an hour Northeast of Seattle at the foot of the Cascade Mountain range.
What is your community like?
To be honest the community in town is pretty much working class without much artistic influence in the town itself. But there is so much beauty to be found around us. The mountains are beautiful all times of the year. And the woods and trees around us bring me constant inspiration. And Seattle is not that far away if I want a modern urban influence!
Do you specialize in a specific look or technique?
I am not sure how to answer this question. People tell me they can tell when I design something. I don’t really like standard matchy-matchy fabrics or points. I do a lot of maverick piecing techniques that will probably throw people who like to follow the “rules” of quilting a little off. I call my style “Urban Folk” which to me describes my angular though not perfect piecing.
What craft or hobby did you do prior to sewing? Do you still continue?
When I was young I loved to draw and play with paper and color. I occasionally do that now but I rarely give myself time to do so. Just before quilting, I was madly counted cross-stitching everything. I never seem to have time for that now. It takes too long. I have picked up embroidery lately after quickly abandoning it as a child. And I am currently trying to learn to crochet. I love all of these things, but quilting consumes my time.
When did you start to quilt?
I made my first quilt with my mom’s help when I was about 14 in the late 70’s. Didn’t make any more until the early 90’s. From there it has snowballed from making gifts to becoming totally absorbed with the craft and the industry.
How did you come up with the inspiration for you fabric line?
My first line of fabric Tie One On for Banyan Batiks is very roughly based on images in my mind of mid-century men’s neckwear. I have a big vintage tie collection from my days before Costco where I was required to wear a tie, but oddly enough, I didn’t even really look at those ties. I just started drawing. There is a long story about a fictional character I made up to give the line some meaning that is too long for here but you can read about it on my blog.
Your patterns often have unusual names. How do you come up with them?
Oh, this is a fun question. So many things spark the names for my patterns. Often, I think of songs or books. I love playing with words, so things that sound like other things often entertain me. One of my newest patterns, Tree Time, is based on the song Three Times a Lady — very, very loosely! I normally find it very easy to just think about what this particular quilt reminds me of.
My pattern shop link is here.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
The first color that comes to mind is Cerulean or Aquamarine, but I think those are both already in the box! So to give a color I went to the internet and made up a color. Bayside Blue. Bayside is Valspar paint color that needs to be a bit bluer than it is to be my color. Now for the reason. I love the outdoors even though I seldom find myself out in it enough. But when I can, I love to drink in a warm breeze and gaze at blue skies. I also love being in the trees and taking long walks in the woods (sans mosquitos) so blues and greens seem to suit me. Although here’s the kicker. My favorite color is really Red. All sorts of Reds – Cherise – Ruby – Scarlet – etc.
Do you have a hidden talent?
Hmmm. Does singing and dancing to 80’s dance tunes count if I only do so in the studio when no one else is around?
That and I know the lyrics to most of the songs in High School Musical 2. And Dad Jokes, I am particularly good at Dad Jokes (don’t ask my family though)
You recently taught in Alaska. How different — or the same — are quilters there? What did you enjoy most?
It is funny. Quilters seem the same everywhere. They are making things for their loved ones or themselves. They love color. They are kind to others. They care about others and laugh at all sorts of appropriate and inappropriate things. They inspire me and each other in every single class. I can’t think of a greater group of people. Wherever I go, I feel like quilters are my tribe.
Besides flying over incredible glaciers and mountains to get to Valdez, Alaska, what I found most interesting was the things that people outside of Alaska think about Alaska. Apparently, many tourists think Alaska is not part of the USA. They ask in the shops if they take US currency. People think that they can’t ship to Alaska because it is a foreign place. Also, that week after Labor Day in Valdez was normally very rainy, I was told. We had beautiful blue skies every day. It was fantastic!
What have you dreamed of doing but haven’t yet?
Oh, the BIG dream is traveling in Europe. Mostly the countryside, not the Cities. Scotland, Ireland, The Lake District in England, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Normandy, Versailles, The Black Forest, The Rhine River valley. Danish farmland. The list is vast! I’d love to go and create with the people who live there. This will take years to accomplish, hoping that’s maybe part of how I will “retire.”
Besides OLFA, what are your go-to quilting tools?
To be honest, I am not a big tool guy. I like the white handled seam ripper from Clover, and I love the ring and flat mount thread cutters from ThreadCutterz. Other than that, my Brother Sewing machine, my basic Black and Decker Iron, and my OLFA mats, rotary cutters, and rulers really are all that I need. OLFA scissors are great too!
Please give us a quick quilting tip.
Oh, I don’t know how great I am at “tips”. I have some things that I do that are part of my routine. I sew quite a distance from where I press, so each time I have to get UP and MOVE to where the iron is. My cutting station is also in a different spot so I am always walking between the three stations. I make myself move because the older I get, I think that is even more important. This is the same reason I don’t have one of those magnetic pin picker-uppers. If I drop a pin, I want to MAKE myself bend over to get it. Even if it takes a lot of time to get down there and back up. It is important to MOVE.
Also, I do use one of those paper sticky lint rollers to pick up loose thread where I am working or to pull the last little bits of thread from a ripped seam. Okay, and I use Daylight bulbs in the studio now for two reasons. One reason is that I get truer light so I can see the real color better. The other is it makes better lights for photos and I truly live life on Instagram, so I want the best pictures I can get for posting there. So, I had more tips than I thought.
Other social media links:
Website link: http://bluenickelstudios.com
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- Pinterest >> https://www.pinterest.com/bluenickelstudios/pins/
- Facebook >> https://www.facebook.com/Blue-Nickel-Studios-151867068205222/