Meet the Quilt Artists: Thea Rijkhoff
This is part of a series of profiles of quilt artists involved in a project that saw Canadian quilters send their art to be displayed in a quilt show in Taiwan that will begin on April 30 and run through May, 2016. Read about the project here and find links to other participant profiles.
I grew up in the the Netherlands, in a small seaside town. I learned to cross stitch in school at a young age. Luckily I always had some art supplies to experiment with.
In February 1980 I moved to Ontario, Canada with my husband and 7 month old daughter to start dairy farming. I didn't come from a farm so everything was new and I had a lot to learn. We have 4 children, all grown now, with families and careers of their own. We have 4 grandkids.
During those busy years I still found time to be creative. I cross stitched antique samplers, crocheted animals, made dolls for my kids, did decorative painting and stained glass. I always made sure my kids also had enough art supplies to play with. And with the long winters you have to have a hobby.
I think my influence to start quilting came from my aunt. She was a great seamstress and as a young girl I spend a lot of time with her. She always gave me scraps of fabric, lace and wool to play with.
When I came to Canada I saw a large quilt set up to be quilted at my neighbours house. It was beautiful! In magazines I would read about antique quilts and saw the beautiful patterns and colours. But they were all handmade with templates so not really a possibility for me.
After years I took my first rag quilt class and made that quilt in just a couple of days. And I was hooked. I finally had an idea how to piece and finish a quilt on the sewing machine. So that was the beginning of my journey into art quilting.
I started making quilts in 2005 when I semi-retired from dairy farming. I think I made over 100 small quilts, wall hangings and lap quilts just to try out new techniques, patterns and colour combinations and just to practice, practice and practice! I had never heard of a guild at that time.
In 2009/2010 I felt confident enough to join the Huron-Perth Quilters Guild. It was the best thing I ever did. I grew so much as a quilter.
My favourite topic is Nature. Living in the country and on the land I feel more in tune with the seasons. I notice the animals in the field, the trees, the beautiful sunsets. When planting the fields in spring I have time to look at the clouds, notice the hawks hunting, the crows flying around. I meet foxes and coyotes, deer and wild turkeys. We are fortunate to own a bush lot with beautiful old trees, ferns and wildflowers.
My ideas also come from an unexpected source, my dreams! I try to write them down and make a small drawing before everything is gone. They are always one of kind and no copyright problems!
My work has changed over time. I still like traditional quilting but also incorporate new techniques like mono printing, fabric paint and raw edge appliqué and hand carved stamps.
I don't really have an art background other than always making sure art was somewhere in my education, and I loved art history. I would have loved to have gone to art school but that was unfortunately not possible. I read a lot of quilt books, and take on-line classes and workshops at my guild. I read blogs to see what others are doing! It’s fun to see what's new and decide if it appeals to me - and then I experiment.
There is always something new I can learn!
Community - My Little Village
Here in Canada the clean air we enjoy in our communities is often taken for granted. We are fortunate to have so many forests which help keep our air fresh and pure. This piece was made with whole cloth cotton, mono printed with hand carved stamps and fabric paint. I then free motion quilted my art quilt.
I like to work spontaneously and use a variety of techniques in my work. Mono printing, hand carved stamps and fabric paint are some of my favorites. I also like to hand dye my own fabric. Nature and the environment are a never ending source of inspiration for me.
Detailed closeup of 'Community - My Little Village'