Deborah Boschert on Playing Well with Others, Part II

Here’s the rest of what Deborah told me about the collaborative art quilt project, 12×12:

Q: What was the best thing about the collaboration? What was the most fun for you personally?

Over the past four years, the regular process of creating to a theme on a deadline helped me clarify exactly what kind of work I really want to create. I’ve made 24 quilts as part of the 12×12 project, plus several others that were test-pieces or further explorations of one of the themes. If there is no other way to define your personal style than to actually make art, then we’ve all done that! That’s the artistic benefit of the process, but there have also been many personal benefits. I’ve made wonderful friends who live all over the world and they’ve encouraged and inspired me both personally and professionally. I hope I’ve done the same for them. 

Also very very fun: sharing margaritas and big smiles with eight of the other twelves when we were all together in Houston! I’d love to do that again soon, especially if all TWELVE of us could be there.

"The 'twelves' enjoying TexMex in Houston. Notice the paper cut outs of the three "twelves" who couldn't make it."

Q: What surprised you about the collaborative element of the project?

In some of the themes, more than one artist chose similar imagery for her quilt. For the “identity” theme, three artists made quilts with fingerprints. They are all unique and wonderful in their own way, but it’s still surprising that they made such similar choices. In the “illumination” theme, two artists used images of Chinese paper lanterns. In our “kilauea” set from the Colorplay series, several artists used wavy linear compositions.

I think we have also influenced each other in interesting ways. I’ve been challenged to create more abstract compositions like some of the other twelves. I’ve also been inspired to try new surface design techniques, explore narrative expression and create multiple pieces as part of my process.

Q: What tips would you suggest to others who’d love to collaborate but don’t know where to start? Any advice?

Well, of course… just get started. It doesn’t take much. Find a couple of people who are interested in making a commitment to a specific project. Pick a theme, size and deadline and get to work. You have to set aside any feelings of self-doubt or worry about the results. Just give it a try and tweak as you go.

Q: What’s next for 12×12?

We’re still creating! We decided to change up our format a bit. The next series will be just one year long. (The other two series took two years to complete.) To honor the year 2012, we’ve switched our size to 20×12 inches. We will each make five quilts in that size during 2012. Knowing that the focus of our project is exploring a similar theme in different ways, we’ll keep that element of the project. We drew names out of a hat to decide who would pick the themes for each of the five quilts. The first theme is “metamorphosis” and our reveal day will be February 12. (The last reveal will be 12/12/12. Isn’t that fun?!) There is lots of discussion on our blog about different kinds of metamorphosis. Some of the twelves are also considering creating a cohesive set of quilts for the 2012 Series and there are some interesting thoughts on the blog about that.

I’m considering using the life cycle of the allium plant for my quilt. I’ve been perusing images online and I’ve started sketching and pulling fabrics. It’s an exciting stage in the creative process.

Deborah signing copies of our book at the International Quilt Festival.

To find out more about the project, go to the website and the blog. You can order the book from Visit Deborah’s website and blog, as well. And don’t forget to check out her etsy shop!


Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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