-Descending from a long tradition of quilt making Denyse Schmidt's creations have a quirky, decidedly contemporary spin without even a hint of hobbystore saccharine. Her journal pages are dotted with tiny renderings of the quilts, roughhewn sketches in colored pencil. Filled with saturated hues, one book has the deep colors of a New England fall: asters, cranberries, and pine. Another is summery and light with the colors of sherbet, lemonade, and babies' gingham blankets. Other pages comprise black-and-white sketches in which Schmidt works out the shapes of her quilts or drafts the prose she sometimes stitches into the pieces, such as "Tomorrow is Another Day."
The quilts first came to Schmidt as telephone doodles while she was working as a graphic designer: circles and squares repeated in a bold, graphic style. Gradually, they made their way from scrap paper into her journals. As the idea for a business devoted to quilt making emerged, the journals blossomed.
Between graphic brainstorms, Schmidt sticks in the stuff of life: musings over relationships, last-minute accounting, and taped-in quotes from tea bags.
"Must stop with the nail biting," she admonishes herself on one occasion. It is this vulnerable, quirky side of Schmidt that comes through in the quilts. They marry creature comfort and high-art craftsmanship at a time when most textiles have a synthetic, Made-in-Sri-Lanka feel.
Schmidt's quilt-related journals were at their fullest when she was in the early stages of starting her business. They brimmed with new ideas and the headaches and challenges of an entrepreneurial undertaking. In recent years she has increasingly used a computer for design, and her journal keeping has declined. The hand-drawn element is still important enough, though, that she'll scan a drawing into the computer. She also pins things on the wall of her studio, so that she can gaze on them while designing, and the board operates as an extension of her journals. "I wish I had the discipline to take everything off it at the end of a season and add them to a journal," she says, a desire echoed by many contributors who rue lost ideas.
Schmidt finds her creative muse in many places, including the worlds of fashion and home décor, nature, and paintings. She likes the random composition of signs and shapes that happen unintentionally, such as on the backs f tractor trailers. Though she fills them more slowly, she still carries a journal ith her most of the time—especially on her travels, which provide creative enewal—and has several in various stages of completion around the house. Returning to the personal notes and wanderings that coexist with the fanciful shapes and colors of her textile work, Schmidt says, "There's an emotional life attached to my journals. They're not just about work."
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