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Since this month is Kaleidoscope month, I decided to go straight to the source and had the good fortune to have an interview with the guru of all Kaleidoscope techniques, Bethany S. Reynolds.

Bethany is the oh-so famous designer that first developed the beloved Stack-n-Whack® technique of layering fabrics before cutting to create Kaleidoscope blocks. She has been sewing since she was a child, but began quilting in 1982.

Bethany lives on the beautiful coast of Maine.

Son Sam at his recent high school graduation, with proud mom, Bethany

Guinness, soaking up some lap time.

How did you get started in quilting? Did someone teach you or are you self taught?

I started quilting when I began teaching classes at my fabric store. I taught various types of sewing classes, but there was a increasing interest in quilting in the mid-80's, so those were the most popular classes. I tried to stay one or two steps ahead of my students! I was self-taught initially, although over the years I've had the pleasure of taking classes with many of my teaching peers.

How in the world did you come up with the Stack-n-Whack® technique?! Did it come to you in a dream?

I joke that I am good at "thinking backwards". I felt there had to be an easier way to cut identical pieces to get a kaleidoscope effect, and cutting several identical layers at a time was the first step. The idea of cutting the layers based on the fabric repeat took longer to dawn on me. That probably came to me in the shower- most of my best ideas do.

Because quilting is your business with a focus on Stack-n-Whack®, do you still quilt for pleasure?

Sometimes, although it's hard for me to step away from my designer and teacher instincts. I'm usually thinking of how I could turn a project into a pattern or class.

What types of personal projects do you work on?

My non-kaleidoscope work is usually scrap quilt style. That allows me to use different design muscles, as well as different fabrics.

Your book bio says you bake, travel and volunteer in your community. Tell us more! What types of things do you bake? Where have you traveled (or what has been your favorite travel destination?).
I like to make cookies, brownies, etc. My baking projects usually involve chocolate and/or ginger. I like cooking main dishes as well. For me, cooking is another creative outlet. I usually start with a good recipe, but I'm not afraid to experiment.

I've taught all over the US and in several other countries (Canada, England, France, and Australia). My favorite destination is Hawaii, though all my international trips have been wonderful too!

Your teaching schedule must keep you very busy. How often do you travel for teaching/shows, etc.

I cut back on my traveling a bit during my son's last couple of years of high school. I still teach at 2 or 3 shows a year, and numerous guilds, but I'm enjoying staying home more now.

What is your fabric stash like? Too huge for words? Minimalistic?

I don't think anyone would describe it as minimalist! I have a lot of background and accent fabrics. I don't have as many large prints as people might expect. I tend to buy my main fabrics for Stack-n-Whack® quilts when I've got a project lined up, so I don't accumulate as much of those. I have several "sub-stashes" as well: batiks, vintage and reproduction prints, novelty prints, etc.

What’s your work style like? Work into the wee hours of the night when the mood strikes? Set schedule strictly adhered to?

I work best when I have a deadline. I'm not a real night-owl, especially as my eyes get older, but I can work late if I'm on a roll. When I begin a project, I work fairly steadily until it's done. I finish most projects within a week. On the other hand, I also do trial pieces when I'm working things out. I know these will never be finished, and I feel no guilt at all about that.

You can read more about Bethany on her website http://www.bethanyreynolds.com/

Don't miss my Kaleidoscope tutorials - four weeks of lessons, including two techniques from Bethany's books.

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Comment by Margo in Maine on June 22, 2010 at 10:17am
Irene that is sad...I have had a few teachers like that.....at least we learn what not to do when teaching others...the best teachers are those that stick to what they are teaching and do not get rattled easy by all the interaction from the floor if you know what I mean...and they are truly interested whether you 'get it'....
Comment by Irene Gallway on June 22, 2010 at 3:51am
I would love to go to one of Bethany's classes, but have yet to meet her. I did take a stack and whack class from another lady but never did finish the quilt. The blocks didn't come out to my satisfaction so I lost interest. Some people can teach and then there are others who just think they can. The teacher who taught this class was more interesed in sitting down sewing herself and running to the store for more fabric then she was teaching us. And to think she got paid. lol I loved your interview with Bethany.
Comment by Suzanne L/WA on June 21, 2010 at 1:27pm
Thanks for the interview Karen. :-)
I also had the joy of taking one of her classes at our quilt guild - I had no idea what a kaleidoscope or stack-n-whack quilt even was - had never heard of them before. After taking her class, I was hooked. I knew I had the perfect fabric when I read the class requirements - it was one I had bought years ago, when I started my very first quilt, a sampler quilt. Never finished that one, but now am glad I didn't so I can have more fabric for Bethany's quilt. LOL
Comment by betweens on June 19, 2010 at 10:45pm
you were very very fortunate Karen.. I was lucky enough to have a workshop with her when she came to Toronto Ontario...we don't get to many American guest speakers..it was a great joy!! at the time I was very much a fan of Bethany..the session was fantastic!! I would go to her class again.. if anyone wants a great quilt to make check out Sarah's Roses.. it is a little challenging but so so worth it
Comment by Margo in Maine on June 19, 2010 at 6:27am
I echo those words Barb D....'Great Interview'....we have had her as a teacher but never get to ask those questions we might have...thanks for the interview...now I know her better....nice for a fellow Mainer...
Comment by Barb D in Maine on June 18, 2010 at 8:01pm
Great interview!!
Comment by Linda Richards/N. Ontario on June 18, 2010 at 6:21pm
Thanks for sharing Karen.
Comment by Pam/NY on June 18, 2010 at 10:46am
That was a great opportunity! Thanks
Comment by B J Elder/WA on June 18, 2010 at 9:41am
Bethany is my good friend Jan's niece. I've never met her, but Jan speaks very highly of her.

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