A Mother’s Influence


This is Mother’s Day Weekend.

And that being the case, I would like to take a few lines to not only wish my mother a very Happy Mother’s Day and thanks for putting up with me for all these years, but also explain what creative influence she’s had on my life.

mom and me (1)

Mom and Me

First of all, you must know that I was raised in a traditional “Southern” household.  Mom and Dad were high school sweethearts and before Dad’s death in 2005 they were heading towards their 50th anniversary.  Mom worked various jobs and owned a couple of businesses before her “retirement” from the workforce. You will notice I put the word retirement in quotes because she technically is still working.  This is where her creative influence comes in.

Besides teaching me that it was wrong to wear white after Labor Day, you’re never more than five minutes late for curfew, and you don’t call a boy before you’re engaged to said boy, Mom was always creating.  She is extremely artistic.  She has painted.  She sews (yes, even a quilt or two), and could have had a second career as an interior decorator.  If you ever have a chance to visit her condo, do so.  It looks like something out of the magazine Southern LivingLet me point out right now that this gene has totally skipped me. 

However, the one creative process that she is known for is her stained glass work.  My mother is a stained glass artist and still teaches two or three times a week at her local community college.  We’re alike in two areas:  First of all we both teach, and second, we are both afraid that if we don’t teach, the art we are passionate about will die with our generation.  The process of quilting and stained glass work are very much alike.  I’ve taken classes from her and was delightfully surprised at how closely the process between the two are related.  So how has Mom’s creative process influenced me?  First, she’s always been doggedly determined to return to it.  There have been a couple of times she’s had to take a sabbatical from her classes.  She’s returned to them as soon as she was able.  The classes allow her not only an outlet for the art, but also a social network of support that is so vital to any artist.  I keep this in mind anytime I have to leave the quilting field for any reason – even it’s only a week-long vacation.


Second, her color choices are terrific.  The influence this woman has had over color choices in my quilts is phenomenal.  She’s never been afraid to throw a deep purple next to a lime green and make it sing.  So, when I’m a little hesitant to make a color choice because I’m scared the quilt police will show up, I do it anyway because she’s taught me that at the end of the process, all the colors sing together in the same choir and the harmony is beautiful.


Happy Mother’s Day Mom.  You are awesome!


Last weekend I attended The Applique Society’s Annual Meeting. It was in beautiful Pinehurst, North Carolina.  The Pine Needler’s Chapter hosted the event and the ladies just outdid themselves.  At this point you may be asking “What is The Applique Society?”  Allow me to explain what this wonderful organization is…

This guild/network/organization is a group of quilters that loves all types of applique and works together to keep this arm of quilting alive and well.  While it is primarily an “electronic” group (we are an on-line presence), there are chapters of us in many states and Canada.  These are groups of quilters who belong to TAS that get together once a month to applique and fellowship.  So, besides the opportunity to have an on-line community that supports each other, there is also the local, physical presence of appliquers.

Founded by Anita Smith, our organization will celebrate our 20th Birthday this August.  I’ve been a member of this group for more years than I will admit and have had the privilege of serving as its President last year and was re-elected this year.  If you would like a glimpse of what we do, please visit our open-forum Facebook page or our website,  Membership is nominal but the benefits are terrific.

Now to the good stuff – pictures of the quilts shown at the meeting!

Quilts made by the Pine Needler’s Chapter and the Sand Hills Quilt Guild.  The quilts with the sunflower and other nature scenes are made by Nanette Zellar who was so generous with her teaching techniques.  Nanette is available to speak at guild meetings, etc., and she is phenomenal.


Words of Wisdom from Nanette


Last weekend also gave me some “down” time.  In addition to a few hours of contemplating my quilting life, I also had some time with Anita.  Besides being the TAS founder (which automatically puts her on the Awesome People list in my life), she has become a friend who I greatly treasure.  Thursday night, we had time together to discuss her work on Love Entwined (if you don’t know what that is, please go to

Anita Smith’s Love Entwined

Talking quilts with Anita is a wonderful combination of what I call spiritual quilting.  I have many, many delightful quilting friends whom I love dearly, but only a few of them have that spiritual quilting quality. It’s kind of hard to define, but the nearest I can describe it is that this group of quilters allow the quilt to “talk to them.”   Color choices, techniques…it’s dictated by the quilt, not by the quilter or even the designer.  These quilters don’t rush the process, they “breathe” with the quilt.  At times the quilt will tell you to stop and rest from the process.  At other times, it will strongly dictate color choice.  It speaks to you.


To me, this is a vital part of the creative process of a great quilt.  Not all quilts do this, and when I run into one that does this with me, the emotional ties to that work of art are strong – so strong that I can look at parts of that quilt and remember what I was thinking during that process, what I was worried about in my life, what I was praying for.  It’s those quilts – if they could talk – are the treasures in my life.


On the way home, I reflected on my conversations with Anita and this process.  And I realized that there are fewer and fewer quilts like this in my life and I need more of them.  I’ve got to make some changes.  It may mean fewer group quilts.  It may mean limiting my work with teaching and quilting organizations.  It may mean abandoning (for the time being) some of the quilts I’m working on now.  I’m not sure. I just know that I’ve got to begin to allow the quilts to talk to me again.  In the process of keeping up with deadlines, I’ve stopped listening.  The creative process is now rushed to meet the date of the calendar and not a place in my heart.  Perhaps this is the one thing that the Year of Quilting Fearlessly was meant to teach me.


Lesson learned.


Love and Stitches,


Sherri and Sam


One reply on “A Mother’s Influence”

I think this is important, and a lot of quilters (including me) should slow down and let the quilts speak. Quilting, especially applique, should be about quality, not quantity. We don’t always have to race to the finish line first.

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