For Mona French, quilting isn’t just a passion, it’s a lifestyle.
From the age of four, she began sewing under the critical eye of her grandmother who would often ask her granddaughter to redo her work.
But this isn’t how French ended up creating the most vibrant, detailed and elaborate quilts. It was also her need to tell stories and to tell them through her work.
“Each piece tells a different story,” French says. My grandmother used to always tell stories when she sewed. Maybe this is where I get it from.”
Every quilt French creates vividly explains a personal experience, remembers a loved one and brings her story alive through nature, colour and fabric. “I love nature and landscape,” French says.
And this is evident in her work as the sun, stars, trees, eagles and bears make their way in and out of various pieces that French holds up. “I also love fabric. I love choosing the colours and patterns.”
And fabric, French has. Plenty of fabric pieces, in all sorts of colours and patterns surround her quilting room along with hundreds of quilting books and various family portraits.
French, a mother of four, is so grateful to have had quilting in her life. In 2000, she created her first piece. “There are a lot of tears in this piece. At that time, I was going through such a difficult time. Quilting helped me,” French said.
Since then, French has created many pieces and each one moves from one personal experience to the next as she personalizes the art that she has grown to be so passionate about.
French, married 15 yrs, has gone through some hardships and through each piece she tells her story. “It’s an expression of myself,” French says. “By telling my story, I share it and it makes me stronger.”
People of the Stone is a piece that remains dear to French’s heart. “The people, this is my heritage.” French grew up in Fort St. James. “Some of the rocks depict bear paws and these two paws are my two grandchildren and others that I hope to have, God willing. The white back ground represents the reflection of God’s love,” French says.
French has won numerous awards through the years including a viewer’s choice award at a quilting show in Nelson in 2006. She has also donated a hockey themed quilt to the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver recently.
French hopes to continue to enter quilting shows nationally and internationally.
What advice does French have to share for future quilters? “It can be expensive and you have to know your math. But, it is so rewarding. To have a vision, and make it come alive, it’s amazing,” French said.
French’s wall comes alive in a room in her home named Sundancer Studio named after her mother. She places another piece of fabric in place while she assembles her next piece.
“I usually work from the bottom down, but this one, I am working from the centre out. We’ll see how it turns out,” she says.
French isn’t afraid to take chances and she will be teaching a beginner quilting course for the first time at the Learning Hub in Fort St. James.
“I’m really looking forward to it. This is my passion and I’m excited to share it.”
Classes will take place at the Learning Hub on Nov. 23, Nov. 24, Dec. 10 and Dec. 11. Classes are from 6-9 p.m.
To register call: (250) 996-7078 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org