Today we’d like to introduce you to Liz Gray.
Liz, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Making things is satisfying and I have always been a crafter. I learned to knit when I was ten and laid up with a broken leg; moved on to crocheting in college; and have taken ceramics, jewelry-making, and book-making classes as an adult. An English major in college, I came very close to being an art history major, and I visit art museums whenever I travel. Traveling itself and everything about other cultures is inspirational for me. A long-time admirer of quilts, I started quilting in 2013, about a year before I retired from my job as a school librarian. I had never used a sewing machine before I took my first adult education quilting class because I associated sewing with making clothes and following patterns, neither of which held any appeal.
Over the last five years, I’ve immersed myself in all things quilting. Through classes, reading, membership in a guild, and studying to be a certified quilt appraiser, I’ve been giving myself an education in the art and history of quilting. I’m currently working on my 30th quilt. Many of the quilts I’ve made have been given as gifts, and all of the quilts I’ve sold have been through word of mouth or social media. I try to balance my time between commissions and quilts made with no one in mind, creative explorations intended to satisfy only me. I see each quilt as a new challenge, a fresh opportunity to play with design, shape, and color.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a surprisingly smooth road considering that I am creating the map as I go. I am also very grateful to my wife for providing me with health insurance. My business is in its infancy, so I’ve been drawing on my retirement funds and other gigs (Airbnb hosting, substitute teaching, consulting on library space planning) to pay the bills, but I can imagine a day in the not-too-distant future when quilting will contribute in a significant way to my livelihood. And if that doesn’t happen, I will be fine; making art for me truly is its own reward.
Lizbiz – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I make quilts of all sizes but I specialize in crib quilts and wall hangings. I use traditional techniques to create modern pieces that are usually abstract and geometric. My collection of fabric is not only quite large but also varied—new yardage, vintage pieces, cloth bags, old clothes—and that affords me great flexibility when creating a quilt. It’s my artist’s palette. I start with a basic pattern and then arrange the blocks based on the way the colors complement each other. The finished product often looks very different from what I imagined at the outset. I have also recently begun to repair and finish vintage quilt tops.
Most artists have a unique vision that is hard to quantify. What sets me apart is my particular set of life experiences and how I translate those into my quilts. Color is definitely one of my hallmarks, as is a sort of exuberant orderliness. I strive to combine beautiful fabrics in a way that I hope makes people smile. I also want my quilts to be well-loved and well-used so that the recipient feels embraced by the pleasure I took in making the quilt.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment was when three people vied to purchase one of my quilts after I posted a picture of it on Facebook. I am also proud of my ability to finish projects—I don’t have many UFOs (unfinished objects)—and to think of new designs. I often fall asleep at night imagining how a particular collection of fabrics will look together. There’ll never be enough time for me to execute all of my ideas!
- crib $250-$350
- wall hanging $400-$450
- twin $550
- queen $850
- Phone: 617.448.2866
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @lizgrayfoto
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.dunbar.gray
- Twitter: @carpelibro
Megan Parker-Gray, Liz Gray