Rayna Gillman works in mixed media on fibre, using a variety of surface design, collage, and printmaking techniques to integrate text and images into her work. She made her first scrap quilt in 1974, when she fell in love with an antique quilt she could not afford. Noted for her instinctive sense of colour and her improvisational approach to design, she encourages students to work spontaneously and to experiment. Rayna was a featured artist on the TV show Simply Quilts and has written for Quilting Arts Magazine. In addition, her work has been widely published. She was a juror for the national Art Quilts Lowell show and teaches internationally. Her fabric and quilts have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the country and are in private collections in the United States, France, and Belgium. You can see her quilts on her website at www.studio78.net and www.galleryfxv.com.
Wow - what a book! I have to say I sat and read this whole book over a weekend and am including in my book tally for 2018 because of that. I do mean read - this is much more than a pattern book and is the first time I have read such a book from cover to cover. You could also dip in and out of it but I think you may want to read it all. I have been drawn to the improv quilting style over the last couple of years but have still to relinquish control and go for it! It is hard coming from an engineering background and loving the perfection of perfect points to let go of the rulers and measuring and to not match seams! I also thought that improv should surely be improv - you don't get it from a book do you? Well I was wrong and, as I said, this is much more than a how to book. The subtitle is Modern Quilting with No Rules and No Rulers which is just perfect. Rayna explores some of those 'rules' that have sprung up around Modern Quilting, such as no batiks are to be used in a modern quilt, the use of highly patterned fabric over all solids and even improv paper piecing - a contradiction in terms surely?!
There are several technique sections which talk you through the process and give you exercises to do to get you improv quilting. As a newcomer to this technique, I think they would prove very useful and the great thing about this is that a whole group of people could be given the same fabric and technique and the resulting pieces would all be unique. There are lots of quilts to look at, both Rayna's and other quilters and towards the back there is a gallery containing information on others such as Catherine Whall Smith, Cindy Griselda and Debbie Anderson to name a few. Rayna talks about her inspiration and as I am someone who sees quilts in almost every thing I see I totally get that. I have not yet translated these thoughts or visions to fabric but this book has really sparked something in me.
In fact, before I even finished reading the book, I went and searched through my drawers of scrap fabrics and found some scrappy improv pieced blocks which were, one day in the very distant future, destined to a scrap vortex quilt. However, I now realised I could do something different with them and taking huge inspiration from this piece of Rayna's, I set to with putting them on my design board and then started to fill around the edges with white Kona.
I had a most enjoyable few hours over a couple of day and LOVED the process - then real life and prior deadlines called and it has been at this stage ever since.
DEFINITELY recommend it for anyone who may be interested in improv quilting or who is looking for some inspiration for their next quilt.
In the foreword to Create Your Own Improv Quilts, author Rayna Gillman says that reader should use this book as an ideas generator, not as a recipe book. Beforehand, she has already explained how the book was a process of discovery and that many of the experiments that she set out to achieve didn't actually make it on to the pages. Improv quilting is by its very definition a freeing approach that leaves you open to serendipity and sometimes failure. Having started out on her quilt-making journey in the mid-70s, Rayna was used to using rulers and scissors as opposed to rotary cutters, so wonky lines were nothing new. The discovery of Gees Bend quilts at the Whitney Museum in 1996 only reinforced her principles of no rules; no borders, and personal expression. Here, you start with strips and geometric shapes and simply follow your instincts. Rayna tells you how to see a design through a camera or someone else's eyes, and explains how to do no-pattern piecing or make use of leftover fabrics. This is a great book for quilters who are already proficient and fancy breaking out of traditional techniques. There are no projects as such but plenty of ideas.-- Julie Sheridan * Popular Patchwork *