Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Designer Interviews - Joan Ford

Meet Joan Ford of Hummingbird Highway.

Joan is a member of my Creative Passion to Profit Mastermind (with Morna from the International Association of Professional Quilters).  Joan is the brains behind scraptherapy® and the author of Cut the Scraps! and Scraps Plus One!

When did you start quilting and how did that happen?
I started quilting on February 8, 2003. It must seem strange that I know the exact date, but that’s when I took my first quilting class. My husband bought me a very basic sewing machine as a Christmas gift that holiday season, so I could use it to complete my knitted projects. To get more value from the machine purchase, I thought I’d take a beginning quilting class. I barely knew how to thread the needle! By the end of class I was hooked on quilting, and proceeded to buy several yards of fabric for my next two quilts right after the class. I still have several projects of yarn waiting for me to make into sweaters, abandoned temporarily to address the quilty itch. As an aside, I’ve upgraded my sewing machine at least four or five times since that very first machine – two of those upgrades were during the first year after that February class.

How did you come up with your company name?
The Hummingbird Highway is the name of a place. It’s a road in Belize. I had been to Belize on a SCUBA vacation a few years prior to starting my business, and the name stuck in my head, because I absolutely adore hummingbirds, and I liked the sound of the two words together. I have several hummingbird feeders around my house. It’s not uncommon for all work to stop temporarily to for a hummingbird sighting!

How would you describe your style?
Traditional with a twist. I love putting fun fabrics and colors together and I love making traditional quilt blocks. Sometimes the ‘twist’ comes into play when I’ve taken a unique spin on a technique that makes the construction of a project easier or more interesting.

What inspires you to create a new design?
Inspiration is everywhere! A shape or color in the garden around my house. The shape and color on a tropical bird, a colorful fish, or a wild animal. The interaction of light and dark values on a very old quilt. The combination of shapes in mosaic tiles on the floor or walls of an old building. Sometimes it’s as simple as a color combination in that gotta-have bolt of fabric at the local quilt shop.

Do you use technology when you develop new designs? If so, how?
Yes! And No! I use the Adobe Creative Suite to make sketches and add color to some ideas, but I almost always do the math by hand. I’m very hands-on with construction. I feel I can write the pattern better, if I’ve made the quilt or the project. Often I’ll go back and forth between the sewing machine and the computer to finalize a project.

Do you participate in other activities related to quilting?
I’m a big fan of hand work. Hand piecing, hand embroidery, adding beads and embellishments to small projects. I really like that quilting is a ‘social sport’ and take advantage of group sewing events like retreats and small group get-togethers with some close friends. Many quilters are also great cooks, I’m not including myself in that category, but it sure makes them a pleasant bunch to hang out with!
What are some of your interests outside the quilting world?
I mentioned SCUBA diving earlier, my favorite dive vacation spot is Little Cayman Island. I like reading, traveling, and movies. And I still knit—mostly socks now that quilting takes more of my time.

Anything else you would like people to know about you?
I’m absolutely crazy about anything ‘bird.’ My husband and I have an Amazon parrot, named Peaches, and two conures, Doodle and Woodstock. They demand our attention with their non-stop antics and vocalizations each day.


Something Fishy is one of Joan's Scrap Therapy patterns. It would make a great dent in MY stash! You can buy it - and many other patterns - here.

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