Wise Craft Quilts Contributor Lari Washburn
Photo by Erin Little
One of my favorite sections in Wise Craft Quilts, is the one about quilt labels. To me, this was a section that had to be included in the book- sewing a label on to the back of a quilt is such a huge part of the storytelling process. In the book are full sized labels in the book that can be printed out at home (I use these ink jet printable fabric sheets) and filled in. (They will soon be available, preprinted and ready to use, from my shop.) While writing the book, I reached out to some of my favorite artists and asked them to design a quilt label. I was over the moon with what they sent back! Each label speaks to the style of the artist who made it, and interprets the idea of labelling a quilt in their own unique way.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting interviews with each of these very inspiring women! First up is ceramicist, painter, and maker of all kinds of beautiful dots and lines, Lari Washburn.
I found Lari’s work online several years ago. At the time I believe she was posting daily drawings in her sketchbook, and I was immediately taken by her thoughtful repetition of the simple marks she drew. I could tell she was inspired and thoughtfully studying the organic lines and shapes she was drawing and posting. Her intentional use of mostly small bits of color mixed in with signature black and white or earth tones makes me look at color in a very different way than I normally do. One of these days I’ll be lucky enough to own a piece of Lari’s work! Till then I am so thankful to have a piece of her work in my book. Thank you so much Lari!
Blair: What is your primary art medium? How long have you been creating in this medium, and what drew you to it?
Lari: My primary art medium is painting, but I also spend a third of my time making ceramics these days. I’ve been painting full time since 1999, but I got a BFA in painting earlier. My mother was a painter and also a maker of everything you can think of so it came naturally to me. I just saw making as a way people lived, not as something special. I’ve kept journals and sketchbooks for many years and they are an integral part of my creative and living process. I think by making and writing.
Blair: Could you describe your current work to us and what is inspiring you right now?
Lari: I’m very inspired by my natural environment as I always have been. Living in Maine gives me a constant source of beauty and truth. But this winter my commute to and from my studio afforded me a certain immersion in the colors and light and shapes of winter that got translated into my paintings and drawings. Also, I’m very interested in reuse and mending and repair as I have been for a long time. I get satisfaction out of making something new from something simple and overlooked. Right now I am working with recycled used teabags to make collages on ink dyed old used up textiles. I’m in love with marks, so I do that all the time in whatever form I have in front of me. Ceramics are another way for me to explore marks. Three dimensional work has been good for my paintings.
Blair: Tell us where you work.
Lari: I work in a studio at an old fort in Brunswick, Maine. I have a rather small space, only 300 square feet, but I manage to have a kiln and an easel and a big work table my husband made me. That and time seem to be all I need. I love the privacy of my space. I don’t really let too much in there to distract me. Without that calm I can’t sink into my work and listen to what is next.
Blair: While you work- coffee or tea? Music or podcasts?
Lari: While I’m working I have sometimes have music or listen to a podcast, but it totally depends on what I’m doing. For beginnings of paintings I need silence so that nothing that is not my own voice enters in. When I make ceramics I can tolerate much more distraction. My favorite times are just sitting quietly with my sketchbook, letting whatever comes, come. That’s peaceful. I have a tea kettle and a chemex coffee pot ( I save the chemex filters to draw on) so I can have either beverage I feel like.
Blair: Have you ever made a quilt? If so, and if this is not your usual type of creative project, what inspired you to make it?
Lari: I’ve never made a quilt although many years ago I was tempted to make one out of all my old TO DO lists! I admire those who do make quilts, though. The patience it takes is pretty awe-inspiring to me.
Blair: When I proposed the idea to you to design a quilt label for the book, how did you approach the project? Why black and white? Did you envision someone writing info on it, or embroidering on it, etc.?
Lari: When you asked me to do a quilt label I was surprised! But I figured it was good to just do my normal dots and scratchings and see what happened.
Blair: What elements of your own work/style did you include in the design of the quilt label?
Lari: I focused on dots since that seemed the most accessible element to use in such a small format. I love black and white drawings, so that helped.
Blair: Do you have any special fabrics in your life that you have been saving for a someday quilt or other sewn projects? (Fabrics from a loved one, or that you’ve collected, etc.)
Lari: I’ve always loved textiles, and I have many old linens that I’ve kept and are now appearing in my work. I love collaging with textiles and then drawing on them with ink. I have some beautiful old embroidered “luncheon cloths” from my grandmother, but I just take them out and look at them once in awhile. I could never use those in my work.
Blair: What are your personal creative goals for 2017? How do you challenge yourself to grow creatively?
Lari: My goals for 2017 are to focus on finding more places to show my work, and to improve my website and Instagram feed. I’d also like to get back to using my Nikon camera, and to take some classes in wood-firing and glazing.
Blair: Where can we find you (please include any upcoming exhibits, shows, classes, instagram hashtags, social security numbers (kidding) where you’d like folks to find you.
Lari’s quilt label in Wise Craft Quilts is modern and clean. With her signature dots and circles, it leaves plenty of free space to fill in exactly what you want to add to the label. I did a little free motion quilting on mine. For more tips on how I create and sew quilt labels onto my quilts, take a look at this post