Be prepared this holiday season!

If you’re like me, every holiday season I say, “Next year I am not waiting until December to start making gifts; next year I’ll be better prepared.” Well, here’s your chance to get a head start on your holiday gifts! Though it’s still hot and muggy here in Massachusetts, the Quilting Arts crew has already put their final touches on the Quilting Arts Gifts 2010-2011 issue and it is off to the printer. I got a sneak peek and I can’t wait to get started.

Kelli Nina Perkins is one of the many talented artist whose work you’ll see in Quilting Arts Gifts 2010-2011. You won’t want to miss her Scrappy Gingerbread Bookmarks, Nested Scribble Boxes, and Rolling Pin Recipe Book. A frequent contributor to both Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors, Kelli’s art is colorful, bold, and happy; you can’t help but smile when you see it. I contacted Kelli recently to ask her about her art and her process, and here’s what she had to say, along with a sampling of Kelli’s art.

Q & A with Kelli Nina Perkins


perkins_1 BD: Your artwork is so colorful and happy; I love the palette that you seem to favor. Do you choose the fabric first and then come up with a project, or vice versa?
KNP: Project first. When the idea comes to me, I start to sketch out the concepts. Then I move on to the what if's. What if I used buttons, what if I used batting, what if I incorporated a layer of paper? When I have the basic premise worked out, I turn to the materials and begin auditioning them for the work. If nothing speaks to me, I have to step back and create the materials before I can continue.

BD: Do you always work in this happy palette? How did this colorway come about?     perkins_3
KNP: I don’t think that you can engineer the colors you’re passionate about. When I see a color set that gets my attention, it’s like hearing a beautiful harmonic chord. It resonates with me. I don’t spend time working with colors that don’t excite me. I can appreciate them when other artists use them, but they don’t motivate me to create. My color choices didn’t evolve so much as they were revealed by my reactions to the world around me. When I see a combination I love, I make a note about it so it doesn’t slip away.

BD: I see you do a lot of stitching in your artwork. Do you prefer to sew by hand or by machine? I see you seem to do both quite often in your artwork.
KNP: Machine sewing can create a kind of raw feeling. It can be messy and scrawling like graffiti, or measured and precise, depending on how it’s done. I use the most elementary of stitches, the straight and zigzag stitch. When I add hand stitching, it’s because I want more texture, or wish to impart a sense of randomness. Seed stitches are a little uncontrollable.The juxtaposition of opposites like hand and machine stitching is always very interesting to me. They’re better when they’re paired, so you can appreciate them next to each other.


BD: When do you start your holiday projects?
KNP: I like to have as much lead time as possible because if I love what I create, I want to make one for everyone on my list! By the end of summer I already have ideas, but going into the fall it's nice to have some things partially made so that I can take my time embellishing them during the long, cooler indoor months. Of course, I'm also a fan of last minute gifts that can be whipped up in a frantic holiday fever!


BD: How do you get organized for gift making?
KNP: Although I am a notorious list person, I need to see things in a physical space as well. So, each thing gets a basket or a tub to hold it. That way I can take an inventory at a glance. Am I missing someone? Did I finish that last bit of embroidery? What kinds of packages do I need for wrapping? I need to have everything together so I know when I'm "done."

BD: What do you do if you get into a creative slump?
KNP: A creative slump doesn’t come because I'm never out of ideas. I’ve got a notebook with all my creative jottings yet to be explored. I will get bogged down if I’m unhappy with what I’m working on. The only way to get past that is just to let go, move to the next project, and accept that the failed one is still fodder for the art engine. Nothing we create is ever wasted. It’s all part of what spurs us toward new creative acts.


Thank you Kelli!


Make sure to get your copy of Quilting Arts Gifts 2010-2011, where you can check out Kelli’s newest artwork and get lots of other great gift-giving ideas. Get Quilting Arts Gifts 2010-2011 hot off the presses, leaving you plenty of time to whittle away at that list. The 2010-2011 Gifts issue has a plethora of projects and ideas for gift giving, and as a bonus, they have even added a “Make It Quick” section to help with those last minute additions to your list. Happy planning!


Enjoy the waning days of summer.



Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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