Wendy Rieves of Brookfield can come up with all kinds of imaginative fabrications, but that's a good thing. Rieves is an artist at heart.
She can whip up something gorgeous in everything from silk to felted wool - and then teach you how to revive your own creative spirit.
She'll be at the Quilt Expo in Madison, scheduled for Sept. 9 through 11 at the Alliant Energy Center, teaching two workshops in silk scarf painting. Here's her tip for beginners:
"The secret is to be playful and to not be intimidated," Rieves said. "You never really know how (the scarves) are going to turn out. But all of them, no matter who does them, look good. I haven't had an ugly one in a class yet."
Inspiration came early
Rieves found her bliss as a middle school student, volunteering at what now is the Brookfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Care Center. She worked in the activity department, "and that's when I decided to become an occupational therapist," she said. At that time, she explained, occupational therapy included doing a lot of crafts with clients as part of their treatment.
She still has her occupational therapy license, but when Rieves found herself between jobs, she took up quilting to pass the time. About 10 years later, she began teaching beginning and advanced quilting classes at Waukesha County Technical College.
"I kind of live vicariously through my students. I can come up with a pattern and make one quilt and then see it reproduced 20 times," she said.
Finding creative balance
Rieves is now a full-time fabric artist with her own business, Creativity Studio, the umbrella company for her lecturing engagements, workshops and quilting cruises organized with her friend, Chris Kirsch. They've hosted quilt-themed excursions to Alaska, Budapest, the Netherlands, the south of France and down the Mississippi River. The next trip, to Ireland, is planned for March.
"From this little kid who just wanted to do crafts, it's taken me all over the world now," Rieves said.
Next weekend, she'll be lecturing at a Quilter's Expo workshop on "charm squares," a quilting technique using different fabrics for every piece of the quilt.
Rieves has stitched together her own charmed life, with support from her husband, Dan, and children, R.J., Adam, Lauren and Tori. She insists that anyone can find their own means of artistic expression.
"As children and adults start going back to school, it's important to think that it's not just the factual or logical things in our lives, but we have to think about the creative part, too, to balance us out," she said.
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For information, call (866) 297-6545 or visit wiquiltexpo.com.
JUST THE FACTS
NAME: Wendy Rieves
NOTED FOR: fabric arts, including quilting
ON THE WEB: wendyquilts.net
WENDY'S PEARLS OF WISDOM: "As children and adults start going back to school, it's important to think that it's not just the factual or logical things in our lives, but we have to think about the creative part, too, to balance us out."
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