ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Hosta Class and Pattern?

I am frequently asked when I might publish a pattern for a hosta quilt and offer a class to teach it. The method I use to create many of my hosta quilts is similar to the one I use when creating my floral quilts, although some of my hosta quilts do have an additional layer of complexity that is not taught in my "In Full Bloom" class. Because I have a class to teach the florals, I have always thought that when one learns my method for creating them, one will also be equipped to create a hosta quilt.

Part of the reason I have not offered a class or published a pattern is my concern that having copies of my hosta quilts out there might devalue them. They will no longer be one-of-a-kind. Although my primary focus is not on selling my work, I do sell some of it, and have sold more hosta and foliage works than any other series I have made. Collectors might not be so happy to know there are copies out there. It is also these quilts that have gotten me into many shows, more than any other works.

Most of my classes are designed to help students make something unique. I encourage this, and don't necessarily want to encourage others to copy me. One exception is the "In Full Bloom" class. It is impossible to design an original floral quilt in a one day class, so I provide patterns in the one day class so students can learn about value and how to construct one of these quilts while using one of my patterns.

There are a few patterns out there that have been made so many times that you will see them in every guild show. There are some that if I never see a quilt made from them again it will be too soon. Many people, particularly across Ontario, have taken my In Full Bloom class, and I often hear about students entering them in their guild's show. It has crossed my mind that one day someone will say the same thing ... "there is another one of those damned Elaine Quehl poppies";-))
But if this happens, do I want to be remembered for poppies or hostas? Good question.

I taught a lot of In Full Bloom classes last year, and it got to the point where people started expecting me to provide the hand-dyed fabrics for them. I simply can't keep up all the dyeing when I'm away teaching so much. Would people expect the same if I taught a hosta class? Would they want to use the same fabrics I use?

I do need to make a living, so if interest in my classes should ever wane, will I want to start teaching a class on how to make a hosta quilt? Maybe that will depend on what series I am working on at the time. If I have moved on to something else, it might feel OK to teach a hosta class. Still I would rather encourage students to find their own imagery, although I know not everyone will want to do this.

What do you think? Hosta class or not?


  1. Oh, Elaine, I hear you loudy and clearly! Remember though that even though the pattern may be yours, there is only ONE Elaine Quehl and few, if any students will be able to match your standards. What I object to is the notion that blatant copying of someone else's work is fair game and no attribution is necessary. That is SO wrong. It is partly for that reason that the class I have just finished teaching involves making one's OWN pattern from one's OWN photo and making a quilt from that pattern. You and I know how much work it is but few people would understand. I can now guarantee that there are at least seven other quilters in southern Ontario who know! Hang onto your Hostas Elaine. They are YOU and they are stunning. Make the others make their own Hosta patterns once they learn the pattern making technique from you. Likely no threats there: )

  2. Hmmmm....Robert Genn has written that up-and-coming painters copy from the masters...but like you, I want to believe that they (and we) are copying techniques, not actual images. Carolynn is quite right when she says that few students who think they require a pattern to make anything beautiful, will match your standards. They won't. As long as they stay inside the safety zone of a pattern, they won't take the risk to practice the stitching, or venture into their own hand-dyeing. I agree: keep on teaching the technique and encourage students to take it and run with it -- to the poppy patch, the rose garden or the hosta bed -- with their own interpretations of those images. Pattern not included. (And yes, if someone makes "another damned Elaine Quehl poppy", she/he'd better darn well credit your pattern on the label!


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