When I found this quilter/artist, I just HAD to share with all of you. There are no EQ6 tips or flashy show-and-tells. Just what I found to be a much appreciated reminder…

Dena Crain is a Mixed Media Artist from Kenya. She as advanced degrees in in design, anthropology, and textiles and has studied art quilting in both the USA and South Africa. I came across her name on a Mixed Media Class schedule after Spring Market in Portland. When I found her website, I was nearly mesmerized by her hand painted quilts and techniques.


In reading her descriptions it became apparent that Dena’s quilts were in no way traditional or typical. She uses a very organic creation process that moved me. In combination with appliqué, embroidery, beading, and hand painted patterns, Dena quilts with little to no plan or intention. She simply begins with plain white fabric and black thread. Listen to how she explains the process:

“I have no preconceived notion of what is about to appear. I make no sketches, no drawings, no plans in advance. I take a few deep breaths, relax, and then I begin moving the fabric under the needle, drawing lines as I sew. With free motion sewing techniques, each stitch can fall anywhere within a full circle around the previous one. Where it falls is determined by some personal inner mechanism about which I know little. Like those who practice ‘automatic writing,’ I am practicing ‘automatic drawing’ while in a near trance-like state of mind.”

~ Dena Crain

Dena’s enlightening way of creating sounds almost therapeutic, doesn’t it? I think it’s easy to get caught up in the notion that the quilt you are designing must be flawless and well planned. Often we see precision and symmetry in quilts where hours upon hours of preparation are visually apparent. But Dena’s approach was a comforting refresher that we need not always have a precise finished product drawn out in blue prints with step-by-step instructions. And even more, what a beautiful way to remind us all that maybe mistakes aren’t always mistakes but rather some personal inner mechanism we’ve left on auto-draw.