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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An Artful Trip Through Alabama!

Steel Quilt Company Giveaway is here!

We’ve been back from vacation for a little while now, but I’m finally getting to that part of my story! I’ve been excited to share some of our adventures in my Sweet Home Alabama. And a couple of giveaways (Stay Tuned!)….

A little history, if you’d like… My family (parents, grandparents, etc) is from Alabama, but I was born in Texas and then we moved to Bama on my tenth birthday. It was not an easy adjustment for me! And I have to admit, I never fully appreciated Bama until I left. I guess that’s partly being a teen-ager and partly that whole saying, ‘The grass is always greener on the other side….’ But once I left home, I knew I had something great back home! And honestly, it’s only been over the last 6 or 7 years that I’ve come to find how much amazing art comes from my home state!

And just in case you don’t know about some of it, I’m going to share it with ya over the next week or two! I hope you enjoy this little journey as well!

Ready??? Here we go!

We flew home, grabbed a bite to eat with my mom, drove to my dad’s house, spent the night and then we were off for a family adventure to the NE corner of Alabama. Where I went to summer camp as a kid! Mentone, AL! While in this area we took in a few caves and waterfalls, which were all beautiful! And so fun. Our first stop was Little River Falls in the Little River Canyon. Our first place to take our shoes off and put our feet in the water and sit in the sun!!! Which was very much needed after a Pacific NW winter!

Warning::: You might want to stop and put on some sunglasses, our white, white legs are a bit blinding!

My husband and I love old buildings. So while we were driving around, from falls to caves, we found this cool old factory building only to find out that it was an antique and art gallery. So of course we jumped out to see what was inside! The first thing I saw when I walked in was this really cool quilt pattern art made of metal and wood.  I loved it! But left it there.

We got back in the car and I googled the artist, The Steel Quilt Company. My husband was driving around the building and while I was trying to find out more about this artist, I happened to look up and saw their sign! Right there in the building! You can google anything,but man, pay attention to what’s going on around, because I would have missed it if I had stayed online!

On our way to Sequoyah Caverns I found some barn quilts! I was sooooo excited! I just learned about the whole barn quilt thing a few months back and they aren’t common in the South at all. So to see one, was very exciting. Even my husband was pulling over and pointing them out. But it was the only barn quilts we saw!

Now barn advertising, on the other hand, that was everywhere!

And Sequoyah caverns… AMAZING! Getting off the interstate and to the caverns was a bit like stepping into a world left behind, but that only added to the adventure. A bunch of rusted out and abandoned buildings and cars, but…..  The caverns were great! The best cave I’ve ever been too. And it was us, the tour guide and some bats. How cool is that???

So that barn quilt by The Steel Quilt Company… Literally, I kept thinking about it. And I kept bringing it up to the family. So the next day when I brought it up AGAIN, it was quickly decided that we’d go back for it. And that’s what we did. We went back and I got myself my favorite one!