July Aurifil Designers of the Month Barbara Pershing and Mary Hoover!

Hi I’m Pat Sloan, the Aurifil Designer of the Month coordinator.  I’d like to introduce you to our July Aurifil Designers… yes designer.. as in two!  The amazingly talented Barb Persing and Mary Hoover of 4 and 6 Designs are here to share with you.

I’m constantly blown away by their quilts and the quilting on them really makes their work stand out from others. So let’s meet this dynamic duo and find out what makes them tick tock!

Post your photo at our Flickr folder and one quilter will win a prize of Aurifil thread! Post a photo of your completed top or a project. Everyone in the flickr folder is in the running!
Flickr folder –  http://www.flickr.com/groups/2011aurifildesignerofthemonth/

1.You one of the unique design teams that are in the quilt industry, two people and related no less!  Can you tell us how you decided to work together?

We are so lucky to be able to work together. Working together happened relatively quickly, if you don’t include the years of shopping for fabric together and going to quilt shows and of course the endless discussions. In 1999 Mary opened a quilt store and needed samples to inspire the customers to buy the beautiful fabrics. As it turned out, customers didn’t want to be merely inspired but wanted the actual directions for the quilts hanging around the shop, shocking. Since we didn’t use patterns in our own quilt-making we really were shocked at this revelation. So to accommodate her customers, Mary began writing instructions and giving them away for free. Turns out, Mary is good at writing directions and really enjoys creating the illustrations that go into all of their patterns. The popularity of our designs grew and we realized that this was a new business.

2.When was your FIRST quilt sighting? Did it inspire you to start quilting? If not, what did?
As children, our mother taught each of the six kids how to use a sewing machine and how to construct clothing. In the early 8o’s she learned quilt making. Mary’s first quilt sighting was when she would go to quilt group with her mom. She made a few quilt blocks and then sewed one of those into a tote bag. Around that time Barbara had married and moved to New Hampshire. During visits home and when our parents would visit them, mom would share quilt making with her. Barbara would continue to make quilts but Mary didn’t really become a quilter until 1992 when she moved to upstate NY.

3.What is your favorite type of quilt or quilt pattern?
We can’t say there is any particular design or pattern that we would call our favorite. We love to see how the individual quilt-maker can change a design with their choice of colors and fabrics. We are both drawn to color more than pattern, everything from traditional to art.

4.We all have parts of the process we ‘prefer’ more than others. What part of quilt making do you ‘Prefer’ most and why?
Barbara would prefer to work through the design process, for example, sewing a few blocks a playing with those on the design wall. Mary likes an orderly process and works through each step, she really likes piecing.

5.Do you do other crafts now? Did you do those BQ ‘Before Quilting’, what types of ‘stuff making’ do you connect with the most??
At this time we are both quilters. All of our activities revolve around that. That includes painting fabric and inking designs. Before becoming full time quilters, Barbara has excelled in many areas. She’s made stained-glass lampshades, which could have turned into a full-time creative outlet had it not been for her longarm quilting business. Also, she liked to visit auctions to buy furniture to reupholster (her husband is glad that she had to give that up). Let’s not forget knitting Icelandic sweaters, sewing Pendleton wool suits and wedding and bridesmaid dresses. Mary, on the other hand, never really liked sewing clothing her creative outlets were counted cross-stitch and decorative painting. She considers herself a “slacker” when compared to her sister.

6.Did you have a career prior to making art, and what was it? Do you still do that career while having your design business? If you’ve always done art, did you do another type before quilt making?
Barbara and Mary both had careers in the medical field. Barbara was a respiratory therapist and later an office manager for a six-man, orthopedic surgery practice. Mary was a radiologic technologist and later a secretary for an orthopedic surgeon. Barbara left the medical practice, after 18 years, to start her longarm quilting company, Quilted Heirlooms. Her family lovingly refers to her machine as “Monstro”. Mary left the medical world when she had her first child and moved to up state NY. She owned a quilt store for 8 years but closed the shop when their first book was released to free her schedule to travel and lecture/teach and concentrate on the design company.

7.How do you fill your soul?  What I mean by this is – what makes you SO HAPPY that you know that if you do this you are experiencing a little ‘Heaven on Earth’.
Our “heaven on earth” always starts with being together. One of the reasons we love our business is that we get be together. Living 300 miles away from each other isn’t always easy for a design team so when we travel to leach or lecture or to quilt market we get to be together. Even better than that is we get to include our sisters. We get to include them in our travels and really we have more fun then people should be allowed. Usually you’ll find us laughing uncontrollably.

8.When you start a new project, how does that work? Do you have assignments for it? Do your own things and have unique styles under your company name?
We think one of the reasons we are design partners is because it’s been so effortless. Designs come organically. The catalyst is frequently a goal or a deadline. For example, a fabric company needs something made with their new fabric or quilt market is coming and we need to debut a new pattern. But the design always starts with the fabric. That’s how we are inspired. The ideas always start there. We don’t use any design programs so we simply start cutting and sewing and looking at the blocks, squares or pieces on the design wall and see where it all leads. This usually goes very quickly when we are in the same room but when we don’t have that luxury the UPS man becomes the third member of the design team. When the design is finished and we know what the finished project is going to be, we get our assignments. Usually Mary completes the remainder of the piecing and frequently applies the appliqué and Barbara always does the quilting and usually applies the binding. Individually, we pursue our own interests in the form of quilts created for quilt show entries or personal use.

9.What is your favorite weight of Aurifil thread?  What are you ‘go to’ thread colors?
If we had to choose one it would be 40 wt.  It is extremely versatile, it can be used for piecing, appliqué and Barbara uses it for longarm for quilting.  We normally use the 50 wt. for piecing, the 40 wt. for quilting and the 28wt for appliqué. Hard to say we love them all.  As you can see from our project we are drawn to clear bright colors.  Orange, yellow, fuchsia, lime green, electric blue, purple…see what we mean.

10.Besides your sewing machine, what are the tools you MUST have when you quilt?
A really good iron, a rotary cutter with a new blade and an assortment of rulers are our must haves.

11.Do you travel to teach? And if so, how often and what types of groups? Guilds, stores, retreats, big shows? Is there a schedule on your blog or website?
We teach and lecture mostly to guilds but we do teach classes in and around our homes. We will be the featured teachers at A Quilters Gathering in New Hampshire Novemebr 3-6. We kept our schedule light this year to write out next book and pursue other quilting opportunities.

12.How would you describe your personality? Are you process oriented, detailed, big picture, are you carefree, structured, unstructured, all over the place depending on the project?
We have very different styles. If you remember the sitcom, Darma & Greg, this is how we would describe ourselves. Barbara is Darma, free flowing, and unstructured. Mary is Greg, detailed and structured.  Barbara likes to do little bits a time, cut a few pieces, sew a little, press the blocks then put the pieces on the design wall and watch the project progress. Mary, on the other hand, will do all of the cutting at the same time then will sit and sew until all of the pieces are done, then press and then go to the design wall. Check out the differences below.

Barbara at work… looks like me!

Mary at work.. so neat!

13.If you could train with, or work with, or follow one person for a day, who would it be and why?
We have two answers.
1.George Clooney. We ask you, wouldn’t that be a good day. We are sure that he has a very interesting life and he could bring us to some great places to eat. (We do love good food)  He is a very successful businessman and has many humanitarian interests. We think we could learn a lot from him and let’s face it have a great day.

2.Tim Gunn. What a cool guy. Again, a very successful business man, his life is all about design, and we think he could bring us to some great places to shop. And who couldn’t use a little fashion advice?

And a few on the light side…
The Book you are currently reading

  • Barbara: The Help
  • Mary: True Grit

Your Favorite Movie – Impossible to answer. There are soooooo many movies that we love. We a cannot name just one.

A Song that makes you ‘dance the happy dance’

  • Barbara: I don’t have a favorite but being a Jersey Girl I love Springsteen.
  • Mary: “Melt With You”~ Modern English

The Color you have always LOVED.….

  • Barbara: Fuchsia
  • Mary: Orange

website http://www.4and6designs.com
sign up for their newsletter off the mailing list
FaceBook biz page CLICK HERE
Barb’s quilt site http://www.barbarapersing.com/default.php

************** THE PATTERN/The Giveaway ******************

Aurifil Tulips FINAL

EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made one of the Designer projects to receive a special Aurifil thread prize.. wowzer!!.

You can make ANY of the designer projects (and we hope you make them all!)

Share your photos at our Flickr Folder… we can’t WAIT to see what you do!

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  1. What a fantastic story. I have three sisters and we do enjoy each others company. And love to get together to quilt. We are not yet designers, but who knows ? Could happen.

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