Workshop projects?

Workshops are always a fun time for me. I sometimes take them because there is a specific technique I want to learn. I’m always curious about another teacher’s work process. And often, it is simply uninterrupted time dedicated to having fun.

The most recent one for me was from Joe Cunningham. I’ve certainly seen and admired his work for a long time but I didn’t check out his website in detail as I usually do for those with whom I am going to study. I always try to go in with an open mind and eager anticipation of learning and that attitude almost guarantees a fun time.

As we got into the class and he found out that I was already an improv piecer, he wasn’t sure that I would be learning anything. WRONG! Joe has a particular way of working that is quite different from mine.  That is exactly why I took the class! It was very challenging for me to work in the way he does and I truly loved the challenge.

Now, the piece I made still looks very much like my work.


You can’t leave your style behind, but finding a different route to get there is wonderful. It adds to your toolbox and opens your eyes to ever more possibilities.

But Joe has a particular style, too, which uses lots of bias tape and that was part of what we are ready to explore.


I am not sure if I will add bias to mine or not. I don’t want to make a piece that looks like I’m trying to imitate Joe, but I do like the idea of playing with the bias tape. I’m really torn. I have the same dilemna with a workshop project from another teacher. It looks so distinctly like her work right now, which was fine for learning the technique, but I want to make it mine now!

Of course, often workshop projects never get finished because they are just that–learning exercises. But for those that you do want to finish, what do you do? Go ahead with the style of the teacher, or absorb their techniques and make the project your own?

For me, right now, it’s bias or no bias……………..




10 thoughts on “Workshop projects?

  1. yes to bias. Use what you learned, finish this quilt. Not every thing made is for Quilt National. Enjoy exploring his style, then use that experience in your own style. Right? Enjoy it? I sure enjoyed hearing your post and about an experienced quilter taking a class. LeeAnna


    • I think I do need to at least add bias to this one. It’s such an easy way to add the accent/contrast. I’ve done it before, but not to the extent that Joe teaches and uses. And the exploration is half the fun!


  2. The same thing happens in any art discipline. You can always tell when someone has studied under certain teachers. But as time goes by, students usually will develop their own ideas as they explore more possibilities. It is ok to copy techniques. There is no such thing as an original idea, you know.


  3. I’ve been feeling that dilemma as well when taking classes and creating projects. I don’t feel that I really have an understanding of my own aesthetic yet . Incorporating new techniques, but finding ones individual voice is what I am pondering a lot lately. I really loved the printing classes I have taken in the past couple years, but most of my time is spent on charity quilts and organizational things. I have two projects stewing in my head, they need to get out.


    • It’s hard to find time to do the original things inside your head when we are pulled by so many obligations. Make an appointment with yourself–dedicate time to you–you are worth it!


  4. I like your piece…..yet that bit of red….probably the bias tape you mentioned did have a nice jolt to the piece. Whether it was too much of a jolt I can’t say….I’d have to live with it for awhile to decide. Can’t believe he’s still on the quilting highway….gosh as a brand new quilter I took his class (along with Gwen) at my guild in IL back in the early 1980’s!!


    • He and Gwen were at our guild when they first started out (before I was here), but there is much more interest now in men in quilting and that modern aesthetic. Makes for good opportunities if you can stand the travel! I’m not sure if I want to add tons of red bias tape or not, though. We’ll see…


Comments are closed.