Knowing that I wouldn’t be quilting for a while post surgery I interviewed 2 fab quilters and will have a guest blog.
My first quilter is Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero of Kaleidoscope Collections. I met Jeanie in the green room while we were both in OH to tape for Quilting Arts TV. Shortly after our time together Jeanie asked me to quilt for her and here we are now having finished our first competition quilt together.
Teri: How long have you been quilting and how did you get started?
Jeanie: I started quilting in late 2004. It was quite a circuitous route. I designed some software (Kaleidoscope Kreator) for the scrapbooking market and at the first scrapbook tradeshow I went to, I had three other vendors say, “Have you thought about quilting?” Well, no, I hadn’t thought about quilting, but after hearing about it from three different people, I decided it might be a good idea to look into it. Also at that tradeshow, I just happened to be across from a booth selling inkjet fabric (which is what makes it possible to use Kaleidoscope Kreator for quilting.) Not only that, but a distributor at that show was also in the quilting market and told me that if I could get them some samples, they would love to include them in their booth at Quilt Market (just five weeks away). Not only did I send them some (very simple) samples, but I also attended the show to see what this quilting world was all about. I was totally blown away – and totally hooked on quilting after that!
Teri: As a quilt maker I’ve found that I have an affinity for certain patterns and colors. I’m always inspired by what other quilters find as their favorites. Can you share your favorites?
Jeanie: One of my very first quilts was based on a log cabin block and I still love that pattern! I like how different a quilt can look based on the arrangement of the blocks, colors, values, width of the strips, traditional vs. wonky, etc. I like just about any color as long as it’s bright! Jewel tones are probably my favorite, but they need to be balanced with lighter accents. No pastels or muted colors for me – though I do love neutrals!
Teri: Each quilter has a favorite part of the quilt making process, which part is yours?
Jeanie: I think that designing is my favorite part of the process. I usually design in Photoshop (because that’s what I’m most comfortable with) and then have to figure out how to construct what I’ve designed – which is my next favorite part of the process. I love the challenge of constructing something after I’ve designed it!
Teri: Jeanie, you’re best known for the Kaleidoscope Collections software, how did you get started?
Jeanie: Back in 2003, I was working as a photo restoration artist – scanning old, faded, cracked or otherwise damaged photos and “repairing” them in Photoshop. I was an active member of an online community of other photo restorers and one of them posted an image of a photo kaleidoscope that she had made by flattening out a coffee filter, cutting a wedge out of it, placing it over a photo and scanning it in – and then creating a kaleidoscope design from the wedge using Photoshop. I took the process a step further and figured out how to “cut out” the wedge in Photoshop. A bunch of us in that forum had a lot of fun making kaleidoscope designs from our photos! I happened to send some of my designs to my sister (who was into scrapbooking at the time) and she said, “Hey – this could be really big! There’s a whole book written on how to make photo kaleidoscope for scrapbooking!”
The process for creating photo kaleidoscope by hand is fairly tedious, so my sister and I decided to try our hand at offering a service at a scrapbook show to make kaleidoscope designs for people who dropped off their photos and printing them out. It was a hit (maybe too much so – we were swamped!), but perhaps more importantly about half of the people who stopped by our booth asked if we were selling the software to make the kaleidoscopes. And the rest is history!
Teri: What is the most difficult part of writing the software?
Jeanie: I should be clear that while I defined what I wanted the software to do, I didn’t actually write the code. I do have a degree in Computer Science, but I had always worked on large mainframe computers and got out of that field before personal computers were on every desk. So I hired someone to do the actual coding. With that in mind, I think the hardest part of writing software is coming up with a good description of what you want it to do and how you want it to look before any coding actually starts – and then sticking to that plan. “Creeping featurism” is really, really hard to keep under wraps – there’s always a little tweek or small feature that you’d like to add, but the more changes to make to the code, the more chances there are that you’ll introduce an unintended defect. Perhaps even more difficult than that however is actually pulling the plug and saying, “It’s done!” No matter how much testing you’ve done, there are bound to be defects that you didn’t find (and won’t find) until the software is installed on a bunch of different systems.
Teri: Do you see the Kaleidoscope software growing and changing?
Jeanie: All that I can say right now is that I have a ton of ideas – probably more than will ever see the light of day. So stay tuned!
Teri: You’ve been working with the Kaleidoscope Collections software for a long time, what is your favorite feature?
Jeanie: I’ve thought about this quite a bit and I can’t come up with a favorite feature of KK. It’s a tool for me to accomplish a design that I’ve dreamed up, so my favorite feature is whatever one helps me realize that vision. And then it changes with the next idea. My favorite quilt is one that I call “Burst of Paradise”.
Teri: Do you design anything other than quilts?
Jeanie: I’ve been an amateur photographer long before I started quilting. And since I’ve started marketing Kaleidoscope Kreator, I’ve dabbled in a lot of other disciplines. As mentioned above, I started my business in scrapbooking which then blossomed into card making and other paper crafts. I love to create 3-D geometric solids and other dimensional objects from paper. I’ve also worked with image transfer onto polymer clay to make pendants and I’ve transferred images onto glass plates (using water slide decals). I love working with resin to create pendants and buttons and recently took a wire-wrapping class to learn how to further embellish those. I also just recently purchased an embroidery sewing machine and digitizing software (which is about all I can say about that right now.
Teri: Do you sell any of the 3-D pieces you make?
Jeanie: No, I don’t sell them. They’re not on the website, but I’ve attached a photo of a couple of lanterns I made a while back. I’ve also made much smaller versions of these and have a more complex model that I’ve designed, but never actually put together. Other dimensional paper objects can be made by simply layering. You can find examples of the layering techniques on my blog:
Teri: One final question, would you mind allowing the readers to see your studio?
Teri: Thanks Jeanie! I’ll see you at the Kaleidoscope Collections booth in Lancaster at the AQS Show!