© 1995, Jane Sassaman. 72" x 76"
Collection of Fairfield Processing Corporation
After exploring many art mediums, Jane Sassaman discovered quilting in 1980 after seeing Nancy Crow's quilt, March Study on the cover of American Craft magazine. Jane's bold designs are dazzling reminders of the beauty of the natural world.
"I give so much of myself to my quilts, that after I embroider my name on the back and it's finished, that's the quilt's job is to go out into the world and it's on it's own, you know I can't stand next to it and explain it, it has to be able to say what it has to say all by itself. And it goes out in the world and it radiates energy back to me and it's just part of that cycle.
"The Willow quilt was a good six months of full-timemore than full-timesewing everyday work and I remember the day that I decided that I had to outline every flower with top stitching thread. I knew that was going to take another month of my time just doing that 'cause it's a large quilt and to go around each piece means the entire quilt is turning around through the little hole in your sewing machine.
"But I knew that it would make the piece that much better so I guess that's my thing is trying to make those pieces the best they can be before they go out the door and then they're on their own. And that piece has really radiated so much energy back to me that all of those hours, all of that six months work was definitely worth it but it's kind of like graduating from college. As soon as you get that piece of paper, all that pain is gone... I look at that quilt today and I think 'Did I do that?' because it really is a rather overwhelming piece.
"I was a jewelry and textile designer in college and after I graduated, neither of those mediums had really got the place in my heart yet. Neither of them was overwhelming me with desire and so I spent several years consciously looking for what my perfect medium was going to be.
"I knew I wanted to use my hands and I wanted to become a master of some kind of technique. So I looked and I looked, went to museums and read art magazines and then in 1980, Nancy Crow's quilt was on the cover of American Craft and just one look did it.
"[Quilting] had everything that I knew I wanted my medium to have. It had fiber which I loved already and knew how to handle. It had color. It had engineering which I really enjoy trying to figure out how the heck pieces are going to fit together. It had design. It had scaleyou could make them as big as you wantedand it didn't take any special equipment, just a sewing machine which I had already. And it also supplied the autonomy which I was interested in. It wasn't group work which is something that I'm not interested in. It just took me and my sewing machine and fabric and I can do everything that needed to be done.
"Because I was a designer of decorative accessories, the decorative arts have always been important to me and have influenced my work for sure... I started using a lot of techniques that I was using in art departments, so things like glue and tape and Exacto knives (which I use when I make a quilt) just seemed logical to memore than scissors and seams.
"The more I worked, the more my true style came out. But I think we're all born with that satchel that has those preferences in it, which has the colors that you like or the shapes that you like, like the spiral. I mean to me, every time I see a spiral it just takes my breath away and when you look at my work it almost always has some kind of spiral motif in it, to me it's such an energetic shape.
"I try to start every morning, to start my day by looking at beautiful objects, beautiful pictures, beautiful books, just to trigger that creative receptivity in my mind. And it's an actual physical feeling that I get when you see something fabulous you just feel that inspiration rising. If you're lucky, you can take that inspiration with you when you go to do your own work.
"I'm shy but my quilts are quite loud."