Designer Edge: Laura Heine
Laura Heine’s mix of artistic skills comes into play in her glorious art quilts. She has expert collaging skills when it comes to cutting and pasting, her painting talents shine as she arranges fabric motifs to blend colours, and her quilting abilities are award-winning. This multi-talented artist has created a candy-coloured world where everything from cars to giraffes are adorned with beautiful florals.
Her creative ideas run wild in her cabin in Beartooth Mountains, USA, where she develops her quilt concepts in her studio. The area boasts alpine lakes, waterfalls, glaciers and snow-capped mountains. Laura’s majestic surroundings have no doubt inspired her quilts; she even has a couple of moose and bear patterns in her collection.
Laura describes her work as very similar to paper collage, except she works with fabric. “Collage is the cutting and melding of many different motifs, working with scale, colour and value to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art,” she says. To create her collages, Laura irons a fusible web to the wrong side of fabric pieces. Using serrated scissors to prevent fraying, she cuts around the motifs — flowers, leaves, paisley prints etc. She draws her design on a product called Pattern Ease, which is the foundation for the collage. Next comes Laura’s favourite part — arranging the cut-out motifs within the design outline and ironing them into place. The collaged design is then cut out and glued onto a piece of background fabric. The quilt top is layered with batting and backing before being quilted. Laura also uses a painterly technique to create her collages. Instead of cutting around floral motifs, she cuts fabric into strips to create a brushstroke effect.
Part of the beauty of Laura’s work is that her quilts look just as beautiful up close as they do from afar. When up close you can fully appreciate all the intricate details and fussy cutting. “Many people think my collages are panels. At first this was insulting to me, but now I look at the comment as positive,” she says. “Once the person looks closely at the quilts and they see all of the tiny flowers and motifs cut up to create the image, they are blown away!”
Although Laura tries to experiment with different colours in her quilts, she always returns to her signature palette. “I find that I hang out in the same colour palette, which I call bright pastel with low-volume backgrounds. I think as I am making the next collage that I am using a new palette, but when the new quilt hangs next to the others it melts in with them too!”
Lots of time and consideration goes into selecting colours and fabrics for each quilt. It can take Laura more than six months to pick a selection of fabrics for any particular quilt. It took over a year to collect fabrics for Seawell, the sea turtle quilt. But Laura is fortunate to have an entire quilt shop worth of fabric at her fingertips, including some of her own fabric designs. Laura opened Fiberworks 25 years ago. The shop is still open for retail, but it has also become a warehouse where the team put together quilt kits and package patterns.
“The best part about being a quilter and fabric artist is that I can do what I love. It is very fulfilling to know people love what I do and want to create my designs. That is my reward.”
And there are plenty of new, whimsical designs to come. A unicorn, flying pig and more teeny tiny quilts are in the works at Laura’s studio.