Lisa Congdon Interview for Jenni Smith Sews March 06, 2016 07:00 22 Comments

To begin with, thank you for stopping by and welcome to my blog Jenni Smith Sews.
My post from earlier in the week tells the story of the recent portrait of Wilfredo that I stitched for Lisa Congdon. If you missed it then you can catch up on it here:
I was over the moon when Lisa agreed to be interviewed and I really hope that you enjoy our chat below.
Also, don't miss out on your chance to win Lisa's new range of fabrics Kindred for Cloud 9, see the end of this post for details of how to enter.
Jenni: Can you tell me a little bit about Wilfredo and why he is such a big part of your life?
Lisa: I adopted Wilfredo -- who is a chihuahua mix -- late in 2007. I had another dog die about three years earlier, and I was waiting for just the right time to adopt a new puppy. I went through a local rescue and met Wilfredo (whose name was "Jeff" at the time) and fell in love. He was about 1/2 the size he is now! He's actually rather big for a chihuahua at 12 pounds. He's now 8 years old. 
Wilfredo is a very special chihuahua. He is not very typical! He is very sweet and he loves people! He doesn't bark or have any neurotic behavior at all that you sometimes find in little breeds. I think I really lucked out. I sometimes say he is an angel that fell from heaven into my life. He's really the best canine companion. He's snuggly, warm, sweet and gives good kisses too!
(Wilfredo from Lisa's Instagram)
Jenni: When did you first learn to sew and who inspired you to have a go?
Lisa: I first learned to sew when I was a little girl. My mom is a master sewer and art quilter and she taught me all the tricks when I was a kid. I can't remember a time when I didn't have a sewing machine, except maybe when I was in college (and for a few years after). I quilted here and there myself when I was in my early to mid thirties but gave it up when I started to paint and draw and launch my art career. I still occasionally sew clothes (I just bought a new Bernina sewing machine) and maybe someday I'll make a quilt again! Right now I just don't have much time for hobbies with my career as a working artist. 
(Clothes made by Lisa in 2014)
Jenni: Do you have any quilts in your home?
Lisa: I don't!
Jenni: Your mum is a very talented art quilter but came to it later in life, are there any artistic mediums you would like to explore in the future?
Lisa: I have always wanted to get my hands wet with pottery or ceramics, so maybe someday I'll do that for fun! And I would love to get back into quilting someday. I am hoping I can begin to prioritize having more time for hobbies in the next five years. 
(A quilt called Indigo Moons by by Gerrie Congdon)
Jenni: I believe that we both have a shared passion for Scandinavian textile design. Do you recall when you first fell in love with it and can you say why it is so appealing to you?
Lisa: I don't recall exactly? I love Scandinavian design in general (not just textile design). I love the mixture of folk pattern and also the clean, modern, bold graphic design of Scandinavian textiles. And typically the use of color in Scandinavian textiles is really gorgeous and distinctive. Marimekko is my absolute favorite Scandinavian textile company, but I also love the work of the late Josef Frank
(Sanna Annuka for Marimekko from Lisa's blog)
Jenni: What do you get from communal time spent with other makers? Is this an important part of growing as an artist?
Lisa: I don't actually spend much time with other makers! Most of the time I am alone in my studio or with my studio manager (who thankfully is lovely and has a great sense of humor). I do get together with friends to draw about once a month. But honestly, the life of a working artist can be very solitary. Most of the time that is okay with me because I am an introvert who loves to be alone! But at the same time, I do try to get together with my artist friends when I am able to draw or share a meal or talk shop.
(A painting entitled Petal Punch by Lisa)
Jenni: Do you have a favourite social media platform?
Lisa: I love Instagram. I post there a couple of times a day and also get to interact with other artists there, which I love. I also love Pinterest. So much inspiration. And I love pinning recipes!
(One of Lisa's prints which I recently bought for my daughter Edie)
Jenni: If you were to live in another country for a year, where would you go?
Lisa: That's a very hard question to answer! Probably either France or Sweden. I love France but I am absolutely horrible at speaking French (though I have been taking French lessons for the past few months). I don't speak Swedish either but most people in Sweden speak (and are happy to speak) English, so that makes it a bit easier! I love both countries so much -- it would be hard to choose. 
Jenni: Have you ever been to England?
Lisa: Yes! I went in 1998. And I am going back this year in June to give the keynote address at Blogtacular. I plan to spend a week in London.

Jenni: My home county Yorkshire hosted the start of the 2104 Tour de France, would you like to come and cycle in the Yorkshire Dales? 
Lisa: Sure! I dream of someday having the time to tour my bike with my wife around France and England. 
(Lisa's drawing of her bicycle)
Jenni: You have written a couple of books featuring hand-lettered inspirational quotes, is there one that you feel encapsulates your own beliefs the most? 
Lisa: "Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable." - Mary Oliver
I get stressed out and overwhelmed like the next person, but I am also someone who has built most of her adult life on the belief set that magic happens if you are open to it. You never know what form that will take (which is why it's important to stay open), but that if your intention is to live a good life with a positive attitude, you will inevitably experience unimaginable joy.
(One of Lisa's books and a quote from a fellow Yorkshire woman Charlotte Brontë)
To hear Lisa's keynote speech at Blogtacular in London on June 18th book your tickets here: http://blogtacular.com
As I mentioned at the start I am very pleased to be able to offer a fat quarter bundle of Lisa's new organic collection for Cloud 9 fabrics - that is 16 in total including 3 voiles.
You can read all about them here: http://cloud9fabrics.com/fabrics/kindred/
To enter you need to do two simple things:
1. Comment below on what you would like to make with these fabrics if you are the lucky winner.
2. Please follow Jenni Smith Sews on Bloglovin OR Instagram @jennismithsews.
The winner will be chosen on Monday March 14th at 09.00am GMT 
The winner is Krista of Poppyprint whose name was picked out of at random. Congratulations!!
Coming up on the blog soon are details of my new coat and a peek at my latest Crafty Fox picture so I hope that you come back soon.