We were first introduced to textile artist Lorraine Turner a few years ago. She learned of Aurifil thread from a friend and colleague and eventually sent us an email introduction. We sent her some thread to help with her projects, she sent a response thanking us for the thread, singing its praises, and attached two images of projects that she’d recently completed. We were immediately smitten. Lorraine is incredibly talented and what she is able to accomplish with machine, fabric, and thread is nothing short of remarkable.
We worked with Lorraine first as an Artisan, then as an Aurifilosopher, and now we’re thrilled to now bring her on as an Aurifil Designer. Her first curated thread collection released a few short months ago in Fall of 2019, a range of 50wt (+ 2 spools of 12wt) to coordinate with her debut Free Spirit Fabrics collection, Calico Horses.
Like her work, the collection is rich and vibrant, heavily inspired by her intense and therapeutic connection with animals. Calico horses is truly her signature and it’s been wonderful to see Lorraine’s vision come to life.
THREAD COLLECTION DETAILS
10 Large Spools, 50wt (1422yds/spool)
2 Large Spools, 12wt (356yds/spool)
50wt: 2135, 2150, 2270, 4020, 1231, 2860, 2735, 2810, 1243, 2581
12wt: 2692, 2024
Thanks so much for taking the time to share some of your story with us. For our readers who are meeting you for the first time, could you tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in this creative textile world?
My background into this medium seems to come from a deeper source. In 1878 a man immigrated from Germany to Chicago, IL where he worked as a tailor for the Opera House. There he met his wife who was a seamstress making gowns for the opera stars. They moved to Philadelphia, had five children– one who became an awning maker and gifted seamstress. She married an inventor and woodworker and they had five children, one who grew to be a skilled upholsterer. He married a woman who was an exquisite embroiderer and together they had eight children, one of them being me. So, as you can see it’s a matter of… “ancestral harmony.”
I’ve been a professional artist for over four decades, but a textile artist for only four years. For most of my career I worked as the lead designer for the Philadelphia 76ers, a professional basketball team in the U.S. From there I went on to be the art director for The Library of American Comics, a business I co-own with my husband. In the Spring of 2016, my journey came full circle when I switched my personal art from computer graphics and watercolors to textile art and thread painting.
We’ve always been fascinated by your background – how do you feel your experience in the comic world has informed your current artistic expression?
Over the years I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the most talented newspaper comic strip artists that have ever lived. The clean lines, exaggerated color and bold brushwork depicted in comics has strongly influenced my art—and you could say that endangered animals are my superheroes.
What do you love most about the practice of textile illustration?
The freedom it offers as I play with textiles every day, not caring about any rules, simply creating art for the love of it knowing it will help endangered animals.
Your stunning artwork caught the eye of the Free Spirit team and your debut collection launched at Fall Market in 2019. What do you love most about that partnership?
I love being a FreeSpirit fabric designer as the name alone really resonates with me. I’m so appreciative of their encouragement and the artistic freedom to design what’s close to my heart with a passion of purpose. A portion of my royalties will be donated to Horselink.org, a non-profit organization helping the animals depicted in the fabrics.
** Click HERE to check out the full lookbook.
Can you tell us a bit about your debut line, Calico Horses?
They’re WILD and FREE! Imagine manes flowing in the wind, thundering hooves, and colorful mountains looming over a sage covered desert all coming together to bring the wild horses of the Southwest. Illustrated with fresh and bold brushwork, my collection evokes feelings of freedom and adventure. The rich textures of prickly cacti, streaming tails, and delicate blooms capture the beauty of the desert and excitement of running free. My collection is perfect for fussy cutting and fabric collage.
Do you have a favorite project made with the fabrics?
I’m particularly fond of “The Calico Sentinel,” which was made with my fabric strike offs. I was given less than a quarter of a yard of all 14 SKUS on August 1st, 2019, none arrived with a complete repeat. I then created this 45” x 60” fabric collage which was displayed in the FreeSpirit show booth during the International Quilt Market in October 2019. I’m excited to announce it will be hanging in a special exhibit in the International Quilt Festival in Houston this coming fall.
What makes Aurifil your go-to thread?
When I first began working with textiles, I was unhappy with the quality of the threads I was using and found I needed to constantly clean my BERNINA 770QE. Pricey machines and cheap threads don’t mix. Once I switched to Aurifil, maintenance became easier and that spectacular sheen and spectrum of 270 colors was a game changer!
Do you have a favorite weight?
Since becoming an Aurifilopsopher, I’ve discovered so many new ways to incorporate various weights into my art. I use 50 wts. for my overall work, 80 wts. for delicate areas and 12 and 28 wts when I want to emphasize highlights and shadows.
Calico Horses is your debut Aurifil thread collection, newly launched back in October at Fall Quilt Market. Can you tell us a bit about the threads you chose to include and why they are significant to you?
If you take a look at my artwork, you’ll see I’m drawn to bold colors. This appears not only in my textile art, but my graphic design work as well. Naturally, I chose exciting colors that really SING. I included ten spools of 50 wt. brights and a spool of black and white in 12 wts. as I always use them when creating eyes.
Anything new on the horizon? Where can we find you in 2020?
I’m happy to announce I’m one of the newest BERNINA Ambassadors stitching on the amazing BERNINA Q20. I feel like a thoroughbred winning the Triple Crown! With the collaboration of Aurifil, FreeSpirit fabrics and BERNINA, I’m now able to reach an even wider audience allowing me to help even more endangered animals worldwide.
I’ll be heading to the studios of Quilting Arts TV to film three segments with Susan Brubaker Knapp in March. Next is Austin, TX for two workshops in April. I’m teaching and I’m the keynote speaker for the Quilter’s Unlimited show in Chantilly, VA in May. I then travel to NV in June where I’ll be speaking and giving demonstrations at the Reno Quilt Show, teaching a 3-day workshop in Gardnerville and teaching a 6-day retreat in beautiful Lake Tahoe. In August you can find me leading four workshops in three locations in Australia. I’ll be at the International Quilt Market and Festival in October and I’ll finish off my whirlwind schedule in November with a workshop not too far from my home in New Tampa, FL. Whew!
Find Lorraine on Auribuzz:
- Lorraine Turner, Textile Artist — Part 1
- Lorraine Turner, Textile Artist — Part 2
- Lorraine Turner, Textile Artist — Part 3
- The Great Thread Adventure
As a young girl, motivational speaker and author/illustrator Lorraine Turner was told she would never make it as an artist yet went on to become a two-time Emmy winner for her work as one of the lead designers for a professional sports team in the US. The National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers.
Lorraine has created award winning children’s activity books and is a multiple Eisner Award Nominee in her role as Art Director for the Library of American Comics – a company she co-owns with her husband Dean Mullaney.
After surviving years of abuse she became a team leader for the first community Domestic Violence Response Team in New Jersey and helped the Attorney General’s Office form the police guidelines which are still being used today.
Lorraine uses her own life experiences and travels world-wide as a motivational speaker encouraging all ages from teens searching a career to seniors desiring adult education.
Today, with the help of meditation, she happily writes, illustrates, and teaches others to follow their dreams.
She is a living testimony to the power of moving thoughts into action.
*All images and text courtesy of Lorraine Turner (with exception to the intro!)