HEIDI ZIELINSKI

HEIDI ZIELINSKI - Fiber/Quilt Artist

Creating art out of fiber and stitch is my passion. In no other pursuit have I ever found the rewards and joy that I find in using textiles, thread, paint, beads, yarns, and whatever else inspires me to make an object of beauty to share with others. My work is based in the quilting tradition of three layers stitched together, but the artistry and originality of it goes far beyond the basic piecing of geometric shapes to create a bedcovering. You will see many reflections of nature in my work as I live in Montana surrounded by mountains, rivers, streams and my own garden. Color and texture inspire my work and they are my palette.

Please feel free to comment on what you see here so I can know what you would like me to post. I am always willing to share what I do, how I do it, and what inspires me. I hope you enjoy my work.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Organizing The Studio

I'm in the midst of cleaning and organizing my studio in preparation for my upcoming Artist's Along The Bitterroot Studio Tour (June 5-7). My studio has been a disaster area for a few years now and I have avoided it a lot this past year. With the excuse of not being motivated to create because of the death of my mom last June, I have not been making as much art as I have in previous years, or should be making. Since my mom was one of my biggest champions and certainly an inspiration for me, this is partially true. But the other part of it is that the room has just become a catchall for anything that can't find a home elsewhere in the house and I have let it become that.

 So this week I decided to tackle it and actually make myself throw out some things. Nothing that anyone else would want---an accordian folder of magazine articles with recipes and do-it-yourself projects that I will never make or do; clothing patterns that are not my size nor age appropriate and will likely never be made by me as I seem to have developed a strong aversion to clothing and home dec sewing; large cardboard boxes holding small amounts of little stuff that need to be sorted and put away; and magazines. Oh the never ending accumulation of magazines and the emotional parting of ways with them. What is that? Why do I get so attached to them? I rarely look at them again, unless they are Quilting Arts and I'm looking for advice on a new technique. I use Pinterest extensively for finding recipes so all those old cooking magazines that I never went back to anyways are now history, as well as any quilting magazines that are full of patterns and designs I will never use!





 I've now stuffed my drawers, cabinets, shelves and surfaces with about as much as they can bear. If I acquire anything else, something will have to go to make room for it. My fabric is falling over, dripping off, and sliding away from the shelves they are on and they definitely need to be sorted better. The towering piles that are two stacks deep are just not usefully displayed for me to use effectively. I need to acquire some more bins that I can label and fill with like fabrics by color or style (batik, hand-dye, etc). I do have a bunch of bins doing just that, but I ran out of empty ones. How long will it take me to go to the store and get more? Good question...
In the meantime, at least I can see and now use my sewing work spaces for pressing, cutting, and stitching. I can get near my design wall and I can access my fabric and beads. The carpet is no longer covered with stray threads and seed beads and the counters are relatively dust free! When I finish cleaning up the last details---things I don't have a place for and don't know what to do with—I will have a clean, albeit cluttered studio. So what mixed-media fiber artist does not have a cluttered studio?! No matter how big a space it was I would fill it up with stuff. The smaller space just means I have to be a little discriminating in what I purchase or accept from those would like to gift things to me. Buttons, beads, old clothes made of silk or suede, books, trims, and certainly fabric yardage are all things that well-meaning friends and acquaintances want to give me. I have begun to say “thank you, but no” to most of them. I did recently accept a couple boxes of fabric and some Handwoven magazines because I had interest in perusing them myself before passing them on. Haven't even looked in the boxes of fabric yet, but I may find something in there of value as they are yardages of good quality fabric according to the previous owner. Of course we all have different ways of qualifying “value” and it is somewhat proportionate to the size of our studio and storage space!





Hard choices, thoughtful organizing, and deadlines all work to make the studio a good working space that is enjoyable and functional. I had the deadline of making it presentable for a studio tour and that is good motivation. I always have worked best under deadlines. But now that it is clean I have no excuses for not going in there and, as Nancy Crow would say, Just Do The Work!  I'm ready!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

1000 Quilt Inspirations Book

I just got word that this new book, 1000 Quilt Inspirations by Sandra Sider, is now available.  Three of my pieces are included so I am excited to see the book!  If you go on Amazon there is a little video on one of the reviews that shows someone leafing through it.   It is also available through Barnes & Noble or from the publisher at qbookshop.com

It looks like a lovely picture book with lots of inspiration for all types of quilts. 


This the first time I have had my work published in a book.  The pieces I submitted were all small pieces created for the Studio Art Quilt Associates on-line fundraising auction held every year in the early Fall.  My pieces have always sold and I hope the recipients have enjoyed them.  I made them all especially for the auction so they are 12x12.

I am getting excited as well for another new opportunity for me.  I will be attending my first Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference in Portland at the end of April and am looking forward to meet many of the artists I admire and interact with on-line through the SAQA email list.  I was lucky enough to obtain a Montana Arts Council Grant that will pay for half of my costs for the trip.  The last two days I am there I will be visiting with my good childhood friend, Michelle, who lives in Vancouver just across the river from Portland.  It is has been a long time since I have had a vacation and I love travelling by myself.  I'm flying, which I also love, and staying in the conference hotel.  Portland here I come!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today, April 8, would have been my mom's birthday.  She died almost a year ago in June and I miss her.  I have finally stopped mourning her loss every day, but on a day like today I mourn anew.  

When my mom was a child her birthday cake was usually the day old Easter cake from a bakery.  When I was growing up I don't remember ever having a store bought cake.  She made me my favorite cola cake or carrot cake, depending on which I asked for that year after much agonizing over the choice.  They were both always wonderful, although rarely perfect.  I never felt they were lesser because of that.  They were always the perfect birthday cake for me.  Made by my mom.  For me.  Thanks, mom. 

My mom never felt she fit in or that people held her in any kind of esteem.  We tried to convince her otherwise over the years but her childhood of neglect and inner struggles just wouldn't let her believe it.    She didn't want us to have a funeral service for her so we didn't, but I think it would have been a packed house.  She was a quiet, unassuming, approachable, friendly, completely accepting and honest person and I admire and hope to emulate all those qualities I saw in her.  She taught me to be thoughtful and kind to others.  She helped us to enjoy and celebrate holidays so that one day my siblings and I would share that joy with our own kids and families.  She taught me to see the beauty and value in the natural world, both forest and garden. She loved growing things and always had beautiful flowers in her yard.  They weren't always the most tailored and tidy flower gardens, but they were much loved and she took care of them so they thrived and bloomed for her.  

That is what she did for me.  Cared for me so that I have thrived and am blooming.  She was perfect to me.  She was my mom.

Happy Birthday, Mom.  I hope you have found peace for your soul.  It is what I always wished for you in life.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A New Year (?)

"From Winter We Emerge"
OK, so it isn't a new year, but it feels like it for me as I have been doing so much pondering lately about the directions I want to take with my art and what my priorities should be.  There are so many opportunities available to me that I am having a hard time paring it down and deciding what to devote time to.   This summer was a time spent in thought, remembrance, and grief.  Even now my eyes well up thinking about a great loss in my life, but I am also ready to move ahead and find strength in the talents, abilities, and support that have been given to me and try to use them wisely.  I finally do not wake every morning in painful remembrance and I have found some creative inspiration in the studio.

Here are the things I am considering and trying to find time to do:
1.  Studio Organization
2.  Writing/Getting Published
3.  Teaching
4.  Gallery Representation


I have begun organizing and reorganizing my studio space and hope to finish that before the month is over.  It means moving much of it out so I can move cabinetry in and then find a place for everything in a bit more organized way.  It is moving along and I am happy with it so far.

I had two articles submitted to magazines and one of the magazines went out of business and the other, after about 7 months of sitting on the article, chose not to use it.  I have not written anything since this past Spring so will have to think about doing that, or maybe submitting those articles elsewhere.  I think they are good, just need to find the right place for them.  Finding topics to write about does not seem to come easy for me, especially since you have to consider where you might be able to have them published.  Options are limited in that regard, particularly for non-traditional quilt artists!
"Butterfly Day"

I have the opportunity to teach locally, and maybe wider if I would choose to.  I have been asked to develop classes in both embellishment and home machine quilting on art quilts.  These take me a lot of time to organize and lay out, particularly a beading one since I feel I would probably have to provide a kit so everyone had the same materials.  Lots of time for prep, and again, this does not come easy for me.  I do enjoy the actual class time very much and look forward to teaching more, if I can just get myself to spend the time getting them ready to teach!  I would like to get a few more classes in my repertoire so I can market myself to guilds in the region and do a lecture/trunk show/full day class thing.


Lastly, I am in the market for a new gallery or two and would like to find ones that are higher end that can sell my larger (translate:  higher priced) pieces.  I will be contacting a gallery in New York that I recently found out about and will be looking around Portland when I am there in April for the Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference.  I have a show currently booked at the Lewistown Art Center with another artist, Denise Pfau, who does lovely gourds with weaving, painting, carving, beading, fiber, etc...  We are a good match and our show will be beautiful I'm sure.  Locally my gallery opportunities are minimal and the ones I do have can only sell my small, low-priced pieces.  That is just the market we are in here.  I want to get my work somewhere where people are spending money on art and see how it does.  I get so many positive and enthusiastic comments and reactions to my work that I feel like I might be successful if I can just get my work into the right markets.

"Tapestry Strutting"

There is not enough time in the day to do everything I would like to, and do it well--I don't suppose I'm unique that way!!  I have a son in school who also needs my time, and I have a household to keep up.  I need to spend time with family and I have several art and quilt related organizations that I am involved with and that require time and effort.  There is always something coming up, a new challenge, a local show, a fundraising effort, a request for volunteers, a crisis.  There is no time to waste on surfing the internet, pinning images on Pinterest, posting and reading Facebook posts, or, worst of all, playing games!  Yet those things do take up my time and I am hoping to change that.  So, a New Year it is for me.  I'm making my resolution now to prioritize, organize, not procrastinate, and use my time wisely!   Nothing new here.  Those are probably the most common resolutions around---along with losing weight which I should do as well! 


Monday, June 16, 2014

Dealing With Change




A recent sermon at our church was about change and how difficult it is for people to deal with, but how it is inevitable in our lives.  Many times we do not welcome it, even though there may be good that comes from it.  I have very recently had a major change in my life and it is a difficult thing to accept.  Life is easier when things just go along everyday and nothing interrupts your routine.  But when something happens that is unexpected or disruptive or just changes the way you feel about where you are in life, then we find it most distressing and uncomfortable.  At first we might try to deny it, then we may grieve about what the change has brought or we have lost through the change, and then we finally accept it and learn how to go on.

When I create my art I usually feel very comfortable, free, and happy about how things come together.  Just being able to touch and see the woven texture and color of the cloth is good.  I enjoy the process and where it takes me.  I've been given a talent that I never knew I had most of my life and it has changed my life.  Change can be good.  This change was good for me. 

I now have a real passion and love for something I can do, and some success in pursuing it.  I have been rewarded many times over with having my work in juried shows, solo exhibitions, winning awards, having people purchase my work, and having many people just enjoying and sharing with me how much they like my work.  I heard Jay Leno in an interview recently talking about how great it is for him that he gets to hear applause every day---how can that not be great?  He was very appreciative of that and he realizes that not every person gets that kind of appraisal every day like he does.  I know as an artist how much that support and encouragement means and how, even though most artists can't NOT create, it helps spur us on to keep creating and sharing our work. 

If you have a friend or family member who is an artist and they show their work or share it with you, give them encouragement.  Pursuing art is a inward, solitary activity mostly, but sharing and showing it is exposing yourself and your feelings and talent in a vulnerable way.  I have appreciated individuals who come to every one of my shows or visit wherever my work is displayed because it feels very supportive and it motivates me to create.  When your friend or relative shows you the new work for an upcoming show, you have already seen it and therefore don't need to attend the opening reception or even visit the venue to look at the work, right?  Wrong.  If you are a friend and want to support and encourage that person in what they are doing you will go and see how great their work looks displayed in a careful, considered way at whatever venue it might be that honored her by agreeing to show her art.  It is the enjoyment that people get from my work that makes me most happy and when they share their feelings about my art I am thrilled that they took the time to go see it and to let me know that they liked it.  I am honored that people make the effort to go see my work when it is displayed. 

Someday I would like someone to write a review of one of my shows and describe what they saw, felt, liked, didn't like, and why.  I would try to learn from it all and hope that others would too.  It is hard to take the bad with the good sometimes so being reviewed is kind of scary.  Change is that way.  Sometimes change looks like it is going to be a bad thing and we are never going to be able to accept it or live with it.  But we do.  We move on, we learn how to adjust and adapt, we look back and remember fondly what we have lost, but we also look forward to what we can do and where we can go inspite of or because of the change. 

Change is scary.  Change makes us nervous, tense, and unsure of what lies ahead.  Sometimes it makes us very sad.  We want to know, will we be able to cope, will we ever be the same, will we be able to go on...  Yes, we can cope and we can go on, although it is true, we may never be just the same because of change.  I know I can accept it, embrace it, have fond memories of it, and use it to make myself and my art more, better, braver, and stronger.  The sadness will subside over time, the courage and perseverance that takes over will influence my work.  The change will influence my work.  Sorrow will be replaced by beauty and great respect for a life worth living.   I think you need to embrace change and use it to stimulate your work, your life, and your relationships.  Change is inevitable, not always welcome, and usually not easy to deal with.  Most people do not like change.  But, I'm going to do my best to honor what I have lost, share the beauty of my art and the talent that was passed down to me, inspire others, and be happy.