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About the Artist
Carroll Schleppi learned to sew from her Mother beginning with aprons and skirts. From there she progressed from simple garments following the pattern faithfully, to executing her own designs, from coats and hats to her wedding gown. Her formal education is in the sciences and mathematics at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia but included many art courses and frequent visits to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum. Later, her young children convinced her that oils were not the best outlet for her creativity, so she returned to designing clothing as beautifully and frugally as possible. Wall hangings, copies in fabric of well known artists’ works, decorated her home.
In the late nineteen seventies, she designed and executed a double bed quilt, hand-appliquéd and hand quilted. In the early eighties, she started a traditional crazy quilt using corduroy instead of velvet. Her four year old daughter cut out the pieces. This quilt, “Love You to Pieces,” was finally completed and presented to Kristin on her twenty-second birthday. Retirement from teaching in 2001 has given Carroll time to follow her dreams with scraps, batting, and a needle and thread.
Carroll currently quilts in Dayton, Ohio when she and her husband, John, are not traveling the world. Their three daughters and their families live near them.
Sketching, drawing, designing, “fooling around” with shapes, colors, textures has been part of me since I was a child. I have expressed myself in oils, in collages, in embroidery, in knitting, in designing and making clothes, in decorating, and in sketching. The freedom of unscheduled time that came with retirement has brought me art quilting as a way to release the ideas tat are churning inside me.
Quilting, from designing to execution, holds two satisfactions for me. The first is the creative process…the release of an idea from the turmoil in my mind, usually to a sketch, verbal descriptions, and/or notes on color or texture. As this idea ferments, the search for the fabric begins and the idea takes on a life of its own. Like a child, it may not respect the boundaries I have tried to set; it may lead me down a path I had not planned; it may prove to be disappointing or send darts of joy through me.
Eventually the excesses of the creative process begin to wane and the meditative, peaceful quality of the execution begins. The calm induced by hand sewing—cutting, piecing, appliqué, quilting—leads me into a meditative state. Time to think, to dream, to be. The work at hand changes as the execution progresses, and the excitement of the initial drive is moderated. The creating is exhilarating; the execution is relaxing. Viva la balance!
Some of the pieces that I have done have originated with an idea, and then I search for fabric to give substance to my design. However, since I feel that my quilting is rooted in the tradition of making something warm and beautiful from the cloth at hand…waste not, want not…, I prefer starting with what I have on hand, and letting the fabric lead me. For several years, I have been working on a series of quilts made with the scraps from an aloha shirt factory in Hawaii. The challenge is to create a design from the irregular shaped pieces at hand, and to combine several different aloha patterns into one quilt. I have completed two, and have three others in the execution stage. In each of the aloha quilts, the design has come from the fabric.