About Susan Carlson
I've been creating art with fabric since 1983 while attending the Maryland Institute, College of Art. There, I used any excuse I could to use fabric as an art medium for my illustration assignments. I painted on fabric, inked, dyed, drew with thread, did traditional piecing, appliqué and reverse appliqué. My influence was my mom, who trained as a dressmaker and seamstress. From her I inherited my love of fabric. I think it's the tactile nature of it. My husband has more than once noted that when I shop for fabric, my hands are as busy fondling fabric as my eyes are drinking in the pattern and color.
As I continued to experiment with fabric for a few years after college, I yearned for something more immediate, more like painting and less like construction. In 1990 I drew on my collage skills, though this time with fabric and not paper, though still using glue. Since I had approached quilting from an art direction rather than a traditional one, I didn't realize how out-of-the-box gluing fabric was. A true quilter was not supposed to glue. But that's what I did, and I've never looked back. And there's even raw edges! As you may have figured out, I don't worry too much about what I'm not supposed to do.
I grew up in a crafty household with parents who like to "figure things out" and made things to sell. My mom sews and my dad does woodwork. The first decade of my career (the 1990s) I spent a lot of time making small quilts—16 x 20 inches or so—to sell. My first ones were mostly of fish—I must have made a thousand of them. I started to teach my fabric collage process in 1994 and slowly the teaching overtook the production of pieces for shows or galleries. These days I concentrate on making the quilts I want to make, usually for myself, unless they're commissioned. I make on average one big quilt a year allowing me to put a lot of myself into every piece. They're not usually for sale, but I do submit them into quilt shows, and use them as examples for my teaching.
By the end of 2016, I will have spent fifteen weeks teaching. For a homebody like me, that's a lot. I try to limit teaching to one week per month on average. But between prepping for a trip, travel, teaching, and recovering from a trip, each week of teaching actually uses up about two weeks of my time and energy. Which helps to explain why the remainder of the year I want to concentrate on my own work.