Here’s another installment in our series of interviews with the 10 designers featured in our latest book, Optical Illusions: Innovative Designs for the Modern Quilter, with Mary Kay Fosnacht. Her quilt, Tangerine Tumbler, is based on the traditional block, Tumbler.
Mary Kay says of her quilt: “The Tumbler block has been around for a long time, but when done in shades of light, medium and dark, it takes on a dimensional, ‘building-type’ feel. I think the diamond shape adds dimension and, when given a pop of color, brings the whole quilt to life.”
You can see her full quilt in Optical Illusions, which is available now.
Detail from Tangerine Tumbler, by Mary Kay Fosnacht
Mary Kay was born in Chicago and graduated from Illinois Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, with degrees in music education and sacred music. In the early 1990s, she and her husband and two children moved to Overland Park, Kansas.
“My husband went to work, the kids went to school, and I went to the fabric store,” she said.
Thus began her quilting journey.
Mary Kay enjoys the entire process of quiltmaking from conception to adding a label, especially the creative aspect of taking a thought and making it tangible. The modern aesthetic has allowed her to develop her creativity in a new way. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking in the mountains in Colorado, playing piano and photography.
How did you learn to quilt?
Mary Kay Fosnacht
I took sewing classes in high school and made most of my own clothes. I didn’t learn to quilt until my family moved to Kansas in the early ’90s. Walking through the fabric store one day, I saw the book, Watercolor Impressions, by (Pat Maixner) Margaret and (Donna Ingram) Slusser, and just had to make the piano quilt featured on the cover. Later, I took quilting classes to learn how to quilt it.
How do you approach quilt design?
I approach quilt design by first looking for inspiration, which comes in many forms. Sometimes the inspiration comes from other quilts, but often it comes from something totally unrelated, such as nature, photographs or other art forms. In particular, I look for color and the overall feel of the inspiration and challenge myself to come up with something different.
What’s your favorite color to work with?
My favorite color evolves over time. I went through a red and green phase at one time. My current favorite is orange, followed closely by hot pink.
What’s the strangest inspiration you’ve had for a quilt?
Strangest inspiration? I saw a checkerboard circle and had to make one. Of course, one wasn’t enough, and I ended up making many. The quilt I made using that design element was the first quilt where I threw caution to the wind and did “my own thing.” I wouldn’t call it a successful design, but it was a turning point in my quilt journey.
What was your first modern quilt?
My first modern quilt was inspired by Yoshiko Jinzenji’s book, Quilting Line and Color. I had never owned white fabric before that quilt and have since used many yards.
What drew you to modern quilting?
From the very first meeting I attended of the KCMQG (the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild), I knew that modern was the direction I wanted to take my quilts. I was drawn to the enthusiasm of the group, the fresh-looking designs and fearlessness of the quilters.
How many UFOs do you have right now? (Be honest!)
UFOs = five, plus two charity quilts that need to be quilted.
What’s the next quilt you plan to make?
The goal for my next quilt is to do something small and quick. I would also like to make one that reflects life in Kansas for an upcoming Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) show.
Our next Optical Illusions Q&A: Jaime David, Oct. 15