Janice Barton is a lifelong lover of the arts, but had taken only a few drawing classes over the years before retiring from her marketing career.
Janice Barton is a lifelong lover of the arts, but had taken only a few drawing classes over the years before retiring from her marketing career. She felt the “challenge now was to find [her] own creative voice,” so she explored textile art classes, discovered the John C. Campbell Folk School and found her creative outlet in quilting.
How did you decide on quilting?
My mother and grandmother were both talented seamstresses and were always doing handwork, but neither quilted. I’ve always loved fabrics but had no interest in making clothes - and when I was working I really didn’t have the time. To me, quilting is all-encompassing - design, color, texture, technique. I’m particularly intrigued with modern and art quilts. Folks think if you have a sewing machine (I have several) you can perhaps do something useful like hem a pair of pants. I don’t know how to do that.
What projects are you working on right now?
There are always at least three quilts in the making - the one I’m actually quilting, the one I’m cutting and piecing and the one I’m thinking about. Then I have my “Serenbe Story” quilt, which is a project that will take hundreds of hours so it’s slow going, and a small art quilt inspired by the work of Annie Albers. I also knit because I can do that late in the evening when my brain is too tired to do the math required for quilting.
What other media do you enjoy?
I’ve tried just about everything and struggle to focus my energies. But for now it’s quilting, doing fine embroidery work and drawing.
How does living in Serenbe foster your craft?
There are so many talented people in this community. Writers, potters, visual artists, photographers and yes, other quilters. This creates a powerful creative energy field and such good karma for artists. It’s continually inspiring and challenging. We support one another and try to remember that the real joy is in the making. Many of these local artists are now part of the Chatt Hills Gallery where we display our work.
Tell me more about your “Serenbe Story” quilts and how it differs from your other projects.
This quilt is worked primarily in wool - appliqué and embroidery - and all by hand. Most of my other quilts are cotton and I use the longer machine to hand guide the quilting. The story quilt will be composed of 30 6”x6” blocks requiring about 1,000 hours of hand work to complete. Each block documents life here - what I see and experience every day. It depicts the nature that surrounds me. My house, some neighborhood creatures and other notable items are all anchored by a path structure and the beautiful street lights along Selborne. I’m hopeful this one day becomes a family heirloom.