The Steel Quilt Company- An Artist Interview

Hello again! Remember alllllll the way back to yesterday when I told you about The Steel Quilt Company?? Well, today, there’s even more great chatting about them!

As I mentioned yesterday, I found The Steel Quilt Company pieces in the Big Mill Co- Antiques & Artisans and fell in love! I totally almost missed the fact that their studio was in the same building as the Antique shop because I had my nose stuck to my phone trying to find out more information about them! So as my husband was taking pictures I sneaked in and met Will, one of the two guys that make up The Steel Quilt Company. He was very nice to the odd quilt girl who just randomly showed up in his shop, but he didn’t have too much to say about the quilt pieces, since he isn’t the one who makes them. When we went back the next day, I was hoping to meet Nathan, the other guy of The Steel Quilt Company who does make the quilt pieces. But…. He wasn’t there then either…. Sad…But happy too, since I was leaving with my very own Steel Quilt!

I got my piece and I am totally stoked about that. But throughout the rest of the trip, I kept thinking about Nathan and his art. When I got home, I emailed him and we started a little email conversation and he agreed to an interview and GIVEAWAY! Yea!

Welcome Nathan!!

When did you start creating art?

I did my first pattern, Crossed Canoes, in August 2011.  I went on a trip with my mom to Iowa in Feb 2011 and that is where I got inspired to do the barn quilts…

What inspired you to add the metal quilts to your furniture company?

I actually added the furniture side after I started the quilts.  I wanted to integrate some quilt patterns to the furniture.

The pieces are all made with reclaimed barn materials, how do you get the materials?

I tear down old structures in my spare time, so I actually harvest the materials myself, including the barn tin I use to hand cut the patterns out of.

Did your mother, grandmother, aunt, father, grandfather, uncle, etc, quilt?

Its unbelievable… no one in my family quilts or crochets.  My mom can sew but my aunt does it regularly.

Tell us about your creative process. Does the barn metal inspire the quilt or does the quilt design inspire the barn metal selection?

A little of both.  When I first started doing the quilts, I painted then because that is the way it was done. 

I longed to find another way to do them because to me, the painting demanded too much precision.  I didn’t think it reflected my personality…. Then one day, I was at my sister and brother ‘n laws and there was some barn tin I had given them for a project and it hit me!!! I took the pieces home and have been doing them this way since.  When I started cutting the barn tin I stopped painting the patterns, just the background, I started using the varying shades of rust for “color” therefore, sometimes the pattern inspires what metal I use and sometimes the metal inspires the pattern I do.  The Jacobs Ladder with the green background is a perfect example of that.

What inspires the designs?

Really my mood…. I look for different patterns online and I really like doing collections like the Underground Railroad and Civil War era patterns..My 7 year son is a big inspiration as well…he does quilts when he is in the shop with me.  He is very talented also.  Last year I was entering a barn quilt in the fair and my son wanted to enter one also.  He did and I did.  End result, he got first place AND best in show, I got nothing.. It was great!

 

Where does the magic happen?

Everywhere…but the work is done at the Big Mill. The space is so awesome and inspiring.. I am grateful to be able to work in such a great place.

Even though I was SUPER excited about finding the steel quilts, when I saw this painted one hiding out in the back by thier back door, I have to say even then I got a little giddy! hehehe…

A favorite quote to share?

I have several actually…one that I really like is “if your mind can perceive it, you can achieve it”  but the one that I have written on my project board and live by is “SIMPLE, STUPID!”

Thanks Nathan!

When I purchased my piece, the saleslady told me that the patterns Nathan uses are from the Underground Railroad. Of course, I know what the Underground Railroad is, but I wasn’t sure what she meant… What do quilt patterns have to do with the Underground Railroad??? So back to the internet for me! And wow, I keep learning sooo many great things about quilting. The people using the Underground Railroad used quilt patterns to send messages to others that were also using the Underground Railroad.

The Bear’s Paw pattern was used to tell others to ‘Take a mountain trail, out of view. Follow the path made by bear tracks; they can lead you to water and food.’

The Drunkard’s Path pattern was used to as ‘A warning signal to take a zigzag route to elude pursuing slave hunters and their hounds that are in the area. A slave spotted travelling south, for instance, would not be suspected of escaping.’

Back in the day, the barn quilts were used to distinguish the different barns from one another, which in turn made them a sort of way finding method. And this is also what was happening in the Underground Railroad. A method of way finding. And to think, I once thought quilts were just for keeping warm and cuddly!

So not only did I find a really cool artist with an most creative take on Barn Quilts, but I learned something else about the history of quilting!

And I’m happy to say I’m the proud owner of this amazing piece!

Do you want one too???  Come back later and sign up for the GIVEAWAY!!!

Or you can contact The Steel Quilt Company via:

facebook

phone, 1 (256) 418-2599

email Nathan at sales.nlw (at) gmail (dot) com

or go right to thier shop at the

Big Mill Antiques & Artisans

151 8th St NE

Fort Payne, AL 35967-2601

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Comments

  1. Well that’s just cool! Amazing to see traditional quilt blocks rendered in metal and wood. Thanks for the introduction to these unique artists!

  2. Love this article and the art! The underground railroad idea is brilliant! I’m impressed!

  3. These are really neat. I know it does not take as long to create these as it does to hand piece a block. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Wow! Who knew? Thank you for this interview and thank you Nathan for your awesome upcycle of bits of history. Love the insight to the underground railroad.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Yea!!! It’s a giveaway!!! Did you read about The Steel Quilt Company yesterday?? [...]

  2. [...] Louise of I’m Feelin’ Crafty introduced us yesterday to Nathan of The Steel Quilt Company who makes quilt block inspired decor from reclaimed barn tin and/or wood. Shown here is his first piece, Crossed Canoes. Love it! See more of his work (lots of photos) and read his interview with Louise here. [...]

  3. [...] my family’s adventures down South! I’m so excited about all the kind words about the Steel Quilt Company that I found and about the giveaway piece! The Doo Nanny was tons of fun… Our next art stop [...]

  4. [...] post wraps up my Southern Adventure series! We made it from the top of the state where I found the Steel Quilt Company, to the middle of the state for the Doo Nanny and Gee’s Bend, to the Gulf and our beach house [...]

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