All this month, we’ve been sharing more about our 2023 Quilter’s Planner designers. The month is coming to a close, and our final designer is the amazing Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Studios, who designed the fabulously fun Northern Gates quilt!
Scott is the Mad Color Scientist at Blue Nickel Studios, which he runs from his rural island home in the Pacific Northwest. He has been quilting for more than half of his life now, and doesn’t see fit to change that any time soon. Mostly self-taught, Scott has found his bliss in the needle and cloth and the glorious combinations of color in this medium. He has designed and created quilts for many fabric manufacturing companies and has had many other quilt designs featured in many leading quilt magazines. He speaks and teaches locally and regionally, sharing his designs and color philosophies.
Northern Gates is a simple, bold quilt that helps you bust through scraps (and/or make more scraps) while also exploring the intriguing interplay of two-color groups with a little punch of black and white for accent. Originally done up in the very traditional colors of Red and Green in a mix of fabrics both modern and classic, it makes a great seasonal project. But other seasons and color combos need not be excluded. You could pick your favorite sports team colors or any seasonal combination. Honestly any TWO colors you pick for this project will expose their fantastic colorful relationship.
Tell us a little about the fabrics you worked with for your project.
I just grabbed from my stash for this. I have been wanting to do a red and green quilt for quite some time now. I really didn’t want it to be ONLY Christmas fabric though. I wanted a traditional color combo, but that could be used outside of the Christmas season as well. I pulled some old stuff I hadn’t seen in a long time along with some modern new stuff as well.
What type of fabrics are you drawn to?
I do tend to be drawn to lush floral prints and deeper jewel / tertiary tones and colors. I am not big on solids, but they have their place as a “eye resting spot” in my normally very busy designs. My favorite kind of solid is a rustic texture, non-solid blender type prints.
Would you say you have a distinctive style?
I call my style “Urban Folk” and here’s how I came up with that tagline.
I love the straight lines of pieced quilting, but I also love imperfections in color and piecing as well. So I use ‘Urban’ to describe the linear lines found in my work and ‘Folk’ for the imperfect almost improv aspects of what I do. I love freedom to be unfettered by Quilt Police type rules. I don’t follow too many rules really. I love Modern colors and patterns as well as Traditional ones. You could call it Moderntraditionalism or Trad-ern if you want. I have had students tell me that my patterns are ‘prescriptive improv’ and I think that works very well too.
What are your designing or quilting goals for 2023?
I have so many unfinished projects and since we moved in 2020, my general goals have been to get CAUGHT up on them! I gave myself a new project for 2021 that had a goal of one 30” square improv mandala quilt every month that got stalled up in April/May of that year due to some serious health issues that popped up. I lost my fervor for the rest of that year after that, so instead getting caught up, I created more unfinished work! 2022 has been a slow recovery and somewhat of a climb out of mild depression- I think just from all that has happened in our lives from 2020 until now. I really have a lot that I want to do to just cleanse and clean up and still settle into my new studio spaces. So long story short, I will be working on cleaning up an settling in to the studios still, and finishing up projects and overdue pattern writeups!
Tell us a bit about where you do your sewing.
So my main sewing space is at the end of the house off of the kitchen. It is actually what we think might have been a garage turned into a family room sometime in the early 80’s shortly after our house was built. So far, we have found very few clues as to what phases our almost-40-year-old house has been through. I have a door to our ‘party’ deck that I open in the summer, and most of my windows look into the front yard and the forest around us. Since we live in a glade in the woods, we don’t have a lot of sunlight, but we live in one of the least-rainiest sectors of Northwest Washington State. I am pretty much surrounded by greenery on all sides! We are in the process of finishing up an unfinished space in our barn/shop that will double as a guest room and a studio annex of sorts, so when we get that done, some of what is crowding me in this space will go up there, and I will finally have multiple “studios” as Blue Nickel Studios has always indicated these last 15 years or so.
What color do you have the most of in your stash? The least?
It is hard to say which color I have the most of. It would probably be green. I don’t think I have enough red as it is my favorite color, but I probably have purple as the least with yellow a close second. Purple is by far my least favorite color.
Who is your quilting hero?
I have a few here. My first and longest-known quilting friends and heroines are Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene from Country Threads in Iowa. They were my inspiration just a few years after I started quilting in the mid 1990’s. Shortly after that, I discovered Gwen Martson and Freddy Moran. Both sets of friends through their writings, books, and patterns have helped me discover that perfection is HIGHLY overrated and just making quilts organically and without specific expectations is the best way to go. Other quilters who I have admired for a long time are Nancy Crow and Denyse Schmidt and the fine ladies of Gees Bend. I may have heard of Denyse before Mary and Connie, but that was so long ago, I am not quite sure.
Where in the world are you located? Can you tell us a bit about how your area inspires your work?
I have lived in Northwest Washington State all of my life and I love the mountains, forests, and waters of our area. There is SO much variety in our ecosystem. Though I consider myself a child of the forest, I also love the urban landscapes of our area. Seattle and its surrounding cities have great linear imagery that inspire a lot of my design concepts. Recently, our move to Whidbey Island in 2020 has found me loving my home once again. Our place reminds me of my favorite home as a child, and I have been feeling ‘settled’ for the first time in a long time. My wife, Linda, grew up on Whidbey Island, we were married here, and her mother still lives here just a short distance away. It is good to be home. We have forests and saltwater beaches and views of various mountains. I really can’t imagine living anywhere else now that we have finally landed here.
Do you work on one project at a time, or several at once?
I generally work on far too many projects at one time. When we moved, as I was packing up the studio, I realized how many WIP’s I really do have. I am excited to pull some of these older things out and finish them. What will do with all of these finished quilts? I don’t really know, but I have the maker’s bug, and I am compelled to keep creating!