Thursday, August 18, 2011

Six Questions with Susan Beal

As promised in the July/August newsletter, we sat down with Portland crafty rockstar Susan Beal for six questions.

Woolen Mill Store: What is your workspace like?

Susan Beal: I sew and work on most of my crafts in a brand-new workroom in my basement (just painted it aqua last week, and moved the last box a couple days ago!). I have my sewing machine, ironing board, a work table, and most of my fabric, in there, and my jewelry and printmaking supplies stored close by. I have a shelf of Pendleton wool with the larger pieces folded, and then my scraps are in the wooden box, ready for piecing or scrap projects. When I baste a quilt I roll up the living room rug and do it there. (I learned the hard way not to baste it *on* the rug - I don't recommend that as a time-saver, to say the least, once you've unpicked all the basting from the carpet!) I dream about having a bigger workspace with a big cutting table and more light... one day hopefully, but I love my new space. I usually write at the kitchen table or in the rec room downstairs.

WMS: Name one tool and/or one craft supply you couldn't live without.

SB: I love my sewing machine so much, it's the first one I ever bought new and the nicest one I've ever had. It's a Pfaff with a built-in walking foot for quilting, and it is just a great machine - not too fancy but perfect for me! It has a few pretty decorative stitches, which are kind of fun for something like a pocket edge or a collar.

WMS: Tell us someone whose work you admire.

SB: There are so many artists and crafters I really admire - it's hard to choose just one, so I hope you don't mind a little list! I'd have to say Denyse Schmidt (who designs fabric and quilts), Marie Watt (a fiber artist who lives in Oregon), Rebecca Pearcy (who owns Queen Bee Creations here in Portland), and Ryan Berkley (an illustrator and artist who lives here, too).

WMS: What is your favorite homemade gift to give or get?

SB: I love to give homemade jam or hand-sewn pillows the most. I make big batches of freezer jam every summer with flats of raspberries and marionberries. When I make pillows, I love to piece bright quilting cottons or soft wool for covers. I used to make jewelry for gifts more often, but every woman I'm related to pretty much has one of everything at this point! My favorite thing to get has to be something pretty a friend knitted or crocheted, since I don't do as much of that myself and really admire the craftsmanship there.

WMS: What inspires you?

SB: Traveling all around Oregon, hanging out with my two children Pearl and Everett on a sunny afternoon, looking at antique quilts, visiting museums, going fabric shopping, having a half-hour just for coffee and making lots of lists, and collecting vintage Pendleton coats and blankets.

WMS: What is one question you wish people would ask you in interviews, and what's your answer?

SB: Maybe what's my favorite place in the world? I would have to say Mt. Hood.

You can ask Susan all sorts of questions this Saturday at the Woolen Mill Store! Join us for her Quilted Cross Pillow class at noon, or a free book signing and reception from 2-4pm.

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