Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fun and Inspiration with Mary Ellen Hopkins

Back in the early 1980's I was a new quilter. My husband was watching the children while I spent a Saturday at a WQI meeting (Wis Quilters Inc.) At the time, the members had to bring their own lunch to eat between the morning lecture and the afternoon speaker.  This particular meeting, Mary Ellen Hopkins was the speaker for both time slots.  I had no idea what was in store for me that day.

Mary Ellen Hopkins

What a treat, she was a stand up comedienne/quilter.  This was the first day I was ever hit with a big idea, inspiration that kicked off my own colorful quilting career.  Mary Ellen was so funny, her entire talk was lots of fun.  She started to talk about finding a colorful splashy fabric that could be cut up into half squares; arrange the pieces and sew them back together! Just one fabric, not 5, 10 or 20! This is when the inspiration hit.

Only the day before I had been shopping in a local chain store and seen a red, blue and yellow print that I loved, but couldn't figure out what to do with it. You can guess what I did. The very next day, I drove to that store and purchased some of that fabric*.  I set the triangles in a black border and was absolutely thrilled with the result and ready to create another. This quilt led to another, and another, and you get the idea. 
Closeup of a similar quilt, using one fabric and sewing it together.

Mary Ellen has recently died.  She taught, lectured, and wrote books and articles that entertained and inspired quilters around the world.  I was one of them.  Thanks Mary Ellen.

Symphony of Color by Ann Fahl
*Ann no longer has the quilt that was inspired this day.  It was called "Fun with Triangles."  There is no photo of it, but it is in the collection of Wheaton Franciscan Hospital in Racine.  The fabric scraps, if there were any, were all cut up into triangles and used up! Some of Ann's more recent triangle pieces can be seen on her website. Half squares will always be an important part of her quilts.


Sally said...

Thanks for sharing your remembrances of Mary Ellen. She was a favorite of my husband's. He was always encouraging me to start with the basics and use the fabric to tell the story. Your quilt made from that lecture is wonderful.

Nina Marie said...

When I was a young quilter - in the 90's I would watch every quilt show that was on - including a PBS one that had Mary Ellen on as a guest. She was so full of life and funny - my husband stopped to watch her segment and said - Now THAT's my kind of quilter. Now you wouldn't think anything about that - until you realize that he was this 20 something hunky construction worker (grin). when I gave him the news this week - he totally remembered the day 20 yrs ago watching that segment. She will be missed.