Monday, April 3, 2017

Meet Mary Whittaker

Hey there! I am Mary Whittaker, have been a member of OMQG since 2014 when we moved to Orlando and am the new Community Outreach Chair. I am excited for our outreach projects this year: quilts for youth that have been neglected, abused, or abandoned that are being served by the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association and simply sweet stuffed teddy bears for ShareBear United that distribute to young children in hospitals. These two organizations are making an impact in Central Florida through their service and are thrilled to be partnering with us in 2017. In fact, look for youth being served by Legal Aid and UCF Medical School students with ShareBear joining us for some sew days! In addition to our two community outreach projects, OMQG will continue to help other communities through our Calls for Blocks program, support the Art Museum of Orlando with a quilt for their Festival of Trees event in November, and support the MQG and a local organization with a QuiltCon Charity Quilt in February 2018. The OMQG is such a generous group of quilters!

Before moving to Orlando I was a member of two quilt guilds in West Lafayette, IN and drove 1.5 hours to Indianapolis to be a part of the Indy Modern Quilt Guild. I learned so much from these guilds and formed lasting friendships. I still travel back to Indiana each January for a reunion retreat (and hopefully a snowy weekend) with a group of quilty friends. I started following the OMQG on Facebook before we moved to Orlando and joined shortly after settling. I believed the guild would be a great place to develop new friendships and connect to the community. I appreciate the warm welcome I experienced and try to pay that forward.

My mom taught me to sew and do handwork at a very early age. I used to make my clothes and loved sewing for my son and daughter when they were young, especially Halloween costumes. I took my first quilt class during a sabbatical year in Boston in 1994. The instructor was incredibly strict, but I still loved quilting! For years my projects were quilts made with my son’s and daughter’s classes that were used as auction items to raise money for their schools.  It still amazes me what parents will pay for a project their child took part in creating!

I love exploring the creative process of quilters I admire while developing my personal quilting style which will forever be a work in progress. It’s probably also the reason I seem to have more works in progress than completed quilts! For me it is often more about the process than the product. Some of my current favorites include Sue Spargo for her rich tapestry of story telling and embellishing with wools and threads, Gwen Marston and Pam Beal for their organic improv approach to design especially with solids, Victoria Findlay Wolfe for her intuitive use of color and pattern, Sherri Lynn Wood for her use of found fabric, and Mary Lou Weidman for her belief of documenting one’s legacy through story quilts. I also admire the energy and creativity of Heather Givans with Crimson Tate. Her fabric designs are lively and personal and the projects and patterns she creates are fresh and modern (and as a side note I love being her ‘bookie’)! Still on my wish list of instructors is Jean Wells Keenan. I consider myself a life long learner and will always be excited to explore and discover something about myself through quilting.

In addition to quilting I love to visit my family and look for quilt shops and workshops close to where they live. Our son lives in San Francisco, our daughter in Atlanta, and our extended families in the Houston and Austin areas of Texas.  My husband and I enjoy kayaking, sailing, and hiking and recently hiked the West Highland Way in Scotland. I plan to use the colors and images from that hike in a quilt this summer during a week at Madeline Island School of the Arts in Wisconsin. MISA has been part of my summers for the last few years; it is a place of inspiration, natural beauty, and always renews my creative process. My husband takes painting classes at MISA and we have a goal of collaborating on a quilt project in the future.

Follow Mary on Instagram @mswhittak

1 comment:

  1. Loved hearing your story and now it seems as if there are more quilting gurus I'll need to be googling!