Laudenberg reviews Hogan workshops

Student samples from Mary Hogan’s “String Quilting” workshop March 17, 2017 at WCC in Ann Arbor

by guest blogger Nico Laudenberg
March 30, 2017

Coffee or Tea?

You are a quilter and a tea drinker? Well, you really should consider buying a bunch of coffee filters. Seriously. You won’t regret it.

I took both GAAQG workshop classes with Mary Hogan in March. And that was a darn decent decision. Mary Hogan is a local gem of a quilt teacher. She lives right around the corner in Ann Arbor and is frequently seen in the cozy, welcoming surrounding of Quilting Season fabric shop in Saline. If you don’t know it – go and take the time to visit it, it is a wonderful place for quilters, believe me. The cheers at Mary’s lecture at the guild meeting in March showed how much she is valued by those who know her. Read here interview with the GAAQG.

Nico Laudenberg’s color wheel of samples from Mary Hogan’s “String Quilting” workshop March 17, 2017 at WCC in Ann Arbor

String Quilting Workshop

Friday’s workshop was about a technique that Mary Hogan describes in her book‚ String Quilt Style (Landauer Publishing, 2016). The title might be a bit confusing, because actually, we didn’t use strings, but strips of fabric. And coffee filters. Indeed! They serve as a wonderful foundation to make neat round ‚blocks‘ out of scraps. And this is to be taken literally. This technique allows you to use up every teeny, tiny, little scrap you can find at the very bottom of your scrap bin.

And especially those tiny bits add a lot of action and interest in your finished blocks.

Mary teaches in a very relaxed way. It’s not easy to describe: she tells you what to do, but then she is just — there. Helpful hints now and then, but no long explanations. She seems to see everything and just shows up at your table when you start getting into trouble with something.

And she told us how to use these coffee filters and all sorts of strips to make fast, easy, and absolute pretty circles. Really, they turned out to be very beautiful and were so much fun to make. Once started, you don’t want to stop. She was full of advice, had so many good tips to share. Even more advanced than me attendees at this workshop went home with some new knowledge about sewing, troubleshooting, and special effects, like adding super-super slim or crooked (wonky) strips. So, we all learned a lot on this Friday, but more than that, we left the classroom with so much more than knowledge. I think, all of us went home deeply satisfied.

Even if we didn’t finish a project, all of us had the feeling of having accomplished a great deal of development. We learned a wonderful technique and we made beautiful pieces of art that will be easily used in a project, so we’ll have our UFOs accomplished in a short while.

Even if I repeat myself, I have to write it again: The string circling is so especially rewarding, because it’s easy, fun, scrap friendly, improvisational to make; but it produces circles that don’t appear to be easy or look scrappy. The finished circles look very elegant and will make a nice, elaborate quilt. That’s the trick!

Mary Hogan teaches “Design Play Date” March 19, 2017 at WCC in Ann Arbor.

Sunday workshop “Design Play Date”

What could “Design Play Date” mean? No sewing machines necessary, but lots of ready fused fabrics to create with. Ha!

Well, again Mary Hogan was good for a surprise. She made designing easy and led us through the designing process like a mother teaches a child any complicated project: step by step. Sounds simple? Yes, but it is so helpful to be guided.

Mary gave us some well-defined tasks. One step at a time, easy, forcing us to focus. We played with lines, curves, shapes and went on with combinations of these. A room full of busy design players, all concentrated on these simple tasks, producing so very different pictures. Looking around, comparing and evaluating what you personally like and why you do so, was a valuable experience and sharpened our understanding for design as well as our own preferences and dislikes. This hands-on-learning of fundamental rules of design was both educational and interesting.

Nico Laudenberg sample from “Design Play Date” workshop with Mary Hogan at WCC in Ann Arbor, March 19, 2017.

These were such very special workshop days for me. If you know Mary, you won’t be surprised, but I was. I still can’t find the right words for the workshop’s atmosphere. There’s no right or wrong, no judging, nothing but success and feeling good.

We learned so much, which I do in more or less all workshops. We all came out with very different results — this is nothing new, either, since I am used to the fact that there is a huge variety of results, even if all of us are given the same task. But still – it was so very personal and appreciative, motivating and amazingly un-agitating — a feel-good experience for being as creative as possible.

So, grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee, either is fine, but don’t forget the filter!

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This post was written by Linda Theil