Courthouse Steps (2016)
83 x 83 inches
quilt with cottons and metallic linens
Tara Faughan is based in California. Her contemporary quilts are geometric patterns in vibrant bursts of colour and she explains her work as trying “to find the line that exists somewhere between harmony and discordance.”
What is your background in Textiles?
I started quilting in 2001 and was hooked immediately. I have always been crafty and followed an artistic nature, trying my hand at everything from painting to drawing, knitting, weaving etc. But when I made that first quilt as an adult, I immediately felt that this was the medium for me. My quilting hobby led me to do a textile design program in Berkeley CA around 2007. A few years later I started working as a fabric designer, first at Pottery Barn Kids and then at Michael Miller Fabrics. This was a great fit for me as it combined my love of quilting with designing fabrics for the quilting industry.
When did you make your first quilt?
According to my mother and the proof I have, I made my first quilt when I was in junior high, maybe at age 12 or 13. It was for a math assignment and I made a mini wall hanging to demonstrate angles. Honestly though, even when I look at this little quilt, I have no recollection of making it! It came as a surprise to me when my mom showed me the quilt a few years ago. So, aside from that, my other first quilt was made in 2001.
What is it about quilting that appeals to you?
I think it’s partly the tactile nature of the craft, I love the intersection of seams and the feel of the fabrics in my hands . But there is also the sense of connection I feel to the generations of quilters who have come before. Though there are and always have been male quitters, it is essentially a women’s art form, this is OUR heritage. I can’t think of too many other arts that are the majority of women, though I’d love to hear about them if they are out there. For me there is a sense of belonging or connection I feel when quilting that is absent in other art forms I’ve tried out one the years, I can’t really put it into words, but I feel a part of a bigger history a times.
How do you describe your work?
That’s a tough question. I think I would say I focus on form, color and the relationships of both. Notably in how color interacts, but also of how shapes communicate with each other and both combined create harmony and discord. I am generally not as concerned with the overall design as I am with the small conversations that happen within different areas of the quilt. I like to have fun when I make, and explore ideas as they come to me.
What type of fabric do you use?
I use mostly cottons, but there’s some linen blends in there as well, or rayon blends and even poly blends if the color is right.
Where are you based and where do you quilt?
I live in Oakland CA, and have been lucky enough to have always had a spare bedroom in my home to sew in. My husband and I are both artists, and it’s always been a consideration wherever we lived for us each to have space to create in.
How do you design a quilt?
Usually I get an idea, and either work out the specifics by making small samples, or by figuring out the math on the computer. Sometimes it’s combination of both. I hate to say I don’t keep a sketchbook, but usually if an idea is interesting to me it will just stay in my head. Or sometimes it pops up years later.
How long does a quilt take?
Anywhere from 40-100 hours (or more for the hand sewn Double Wedding Ring).
What has been your career highlight so far?
I think it has not been any one moment or thing, but more that I’m at a point where I’m so comfortable with my craft that I can take an idea and organically translate it into fabric. There is at times a seamless flow from my head through my hands, and it’s such a joy to be able to create in that manner.
Do you have any advice for aspiring textile artists?
Make. Do. Sew. Whatever is your passion, don’t worry about the outcome and try not to judge yourself too harshly. If it’s not your best or favorite work, that’s fine as long as you keep moving forwards! At least that advice has worked for me. I make duds and quilts that don’t thrill me, but it always seems as if the next quilt after a period like that is always my newest favorite, so I don’t fret over periods of creative slumps, I just keep sewing through them, knowing I’ll get to the other side and get back into that groove.