Join Sujata Shah workshop!


“Windmills” by Sujata Shah

by Linda Theil — June 25, 2016

Join us for a Sujata Shah workshop in July and receive:

  • a free Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild membership for the remainder of 2016
  • plus a chance to win a signed copy of Shah’s Cultural Fusion Quilts
  • in addition to enjoying a great day of learning and exploring the creation of free-form pattern blocks using NO patterns or templates!
Quilt artist, Sujata Shah visits Ann Arbor July 15-17, 2016.

Quilt artist Sujata Shah teaches in Ann Arbor July 15-17, 2016.

Quilt artist Sujata Shah will be in Ann Arbor for two, hands-on, free-form-piecing workshops from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 15 and July 17, 2016 at the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College Campus, 4800 E Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48105.

The cost of each day-long workshop — “Windmills” on July 15 and “Peppermint Pinwheels” on July 17 — is $75 for non-guild members. Current guild members pay $55 per workshop. Participants may register online on the GAAQG website Workshops page.

A native of Mumbai who lives in Chester Springs, PA, Shah found personal inspiration in the 2002 national exhibition of “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend”.

In her book, Cultural Fusion Quilts, Shaw says:

“After discovering the quilts of Gee’s Bend, my focus shifted from traditional quilts to utilitarian and improvisational quilts. African-American quilts in books such as Bold Improvisation by Scott Heffley and Accidentally on Purpose by Eli Leon reminded me of godharis, utilitarian quilts from India. Quilts made with scraps on hand have a graphic and bold identity of their own.”

GAAQG: Could you tell a little about your education as a designer, and how the Gee’s Bend show influenced the work you are doing today?

SHAH: I studied graphic design with a calligraphy major. Freeform working style is indented in my work habits. 

When I saw quilts of Gee’s Bend for the first time, I felt an instant connection with my heritage. There are many similarities between the two styles. There is some kind of comfort level in accepting imperfections of human hands. Mismatched points and colors not necessarily ruled by the color-theory gave me freedom to follow my heart. Creativity is first about the process, followed by a final product reflecting the personality of the maker. I try to remember that when I create as well as teach.   

GAAQGDo you care to tell a little about your teaching style and what you hope your students will learn/achieve in your class?

SHAH: Free Style – I expect my students to take home the understanding of Indian culture, be comfortable in the classroom and develop their own voice in quilting. Each of my quilts tell a story, there is a history and a background. I hope my students also find that connection through their creative process — that it is more about telling a story than making a quilt.   

We spoke to Shah recently about her work:

GAAQG: What do you want your students to know about you?

SHAH: I am a very easy going person. I do talk a lot about my life during the class. Stories of growing up in India always resurface. They also help me to understand and explain my quilting style.

I am always curious about my students’ quilting journey. How they got started with quilting and why they make quilts. 

GAAQG: Any recommendations or advice for students?

SHAH: I want my students to expect the idea of accepting imperfections, to have freedom to create and explore more.

GAAQG: Are you working on a new book?

SHAH: Yes. I am constantly working on new quilts but these days I am mostly focused on taking freeform blocks to another level. There are endless possibilities with my technique and I want to see if there is enough variety in new quilts to propose for a book.

Sujata Shah will lecture at July 16 GAAQG meeting

In addition to her two, one-day workshops, Sujata Shah will also lecture on the topic of her book, Cultural Fusion Quilts, at the July 16 meeting of the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild. The meeting begins at 9:15 a.m. (doors open at 8:15 a.m.) and will be held in the Towsley Auditorium of the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor. Everyone is welcome; non-members pay a $10 fee, or ask for the sponsorship of an attending member to attend the meeting at no cost. Sujata Shah will also teach at the upcoming Quilter’s Affair in Sisters OR July 4-8, 2016 and other venues this year and next. Check Shah’s webpage, The Root Connection, for workshop information.

Shah said:

Teaching opportunity at Sisters, Oregon means a lot to me. This summer will be my first time visiting and teaching at Sisters. Anytime when there are hundreds of quilters under one roof, learning opportunities are multiplied for all. I am currently working on filling my schedule for next year. I will be teaching a four day retreat at Port Gamble Washington in May 2017 as well as guilds across the country.

For more information about Shah’s inspiration, view this video, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend produced by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. To follow Sujata Shah’s work, read her weblog, The Root Connection, and follow her on Facebook at The Root Connection and Etsy at Rangoli Designs.

Sujata Shah in Ann Arbor 2016

July 15:
“Windmills” one-day workshop by Sujata Shah — 9:30 am – 4:30 pm Friday at Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College Campus, 4800 E Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48105. $55 to members; $75 to non-members. Description: Inspired by the windmills of Pennsylvania farms and my childhood memories of paper pinwheels, Windmills is a beginner friendly project. This class is designed to focus on cutting curves through multiple layers of fabrics and sewing curved seams with ease. Participants will also explore various block setting and layouts for the quilt. Register online.

July 16“Cultural Fusion Quilts” lecture by Sujata Shah at GAAQG Quilt Day meeting beginning 9:15 a.m. Saturday, at Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48105. Free to members, $10 to non-members or free with member sponsor. More about Quilt Day online.

July 17“Peppermint Pinwheels” one-day workshop by Sujata Shah from 9:30 a.m. to  4:30 p.m. Sunday, in the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College Campus, 4800 E Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48105. $55 to members; $75 to non-members. Description: Inspired by folk art applique flowers, Peppermint Pinwheels is a perfect spring or summer project. Is it possible to make a pieced block with curved flower petals without any patterns or template? Yes! This design focuses on cutting multiple curves through layers of fabrics and sewing the pieces into free-form flower blocks. Participants will follow instructions from the book Cultural Fusion Quilts and construct blocks resembling large appliqued flowers with appliqued centers. I will share many tips on making free-form blocks and offer many suggestions for color combinations and layouts. Register online.

Please download a printable poster of the Sujata Shah workshops for GAAQG and share wherever quilters meet.


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This post was written by Linda Theil

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