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.
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.
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.