Cheryl Sleboda – Part 1

Cheryl Sleboda, SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW

Cheryl Sleboda

Cheryl Sleboda’s bio says:  I work in the comic book industry by day and am a fiber artist by night. I am fascinated by the intersection of technology and textiles. Juxtaposing heirloom techniques in modern quilts is part of my design aesthetic.

How did Cheryl become the quilting industry authority where technology meets quilting? Why make a six inch square quilt? How is she lighting up the world of art quilting?  

I grew up on the south side of Chicago. In 8th grade we moved to the suburbs. I learned to sew from Home EC classes! My grandmother gave me a sewing machine for Christmas my senior year of high school, but no one in my family sews but me.  I went to a local community college and majored in Theatre.  There I developed a love for costuming and for sewing.

In 1996 I met my soon-to-be-husband in the early days of the internet and moved to Baltimore. Soon after moving to Baltimore I started my full time job in the comic book industry. I work for a comic book distributor, and my job is to develop tools for customers to grow their businesses.  I work with small niche, passionate store owners every day.  I travel quite a bit for the job, attending major comic book conventions to meet with our clients and grow our industry.

Because I was so far away from family and friends I turned to sewing and picked up a JoAnn’s block of the month kit as my first introduction to quilting.  From there I started designing my own traditional style quilts and joined a quilt guild. I soon realized that I was going to run out of room for my quilts and worthy people to gift them to. Besides, making a bed-size quilt is a huge commitment in time, money and energy.

Cherl Sleboda Artists Trading Cards 2010

Artists Trading Cards 2010

In 2005-7 I started transitioning to art quilting. I started out making Artist Trading Card sized quilts (baseball card sized at 2.5 x 3.5 inches) and trading them with others on the internet. I was fascinated by journal quilting and wanted to start getting the art quilt ideas out of my sketchbook and made into work. So I launched my weekly art quilts in January 2007 and made one small (6×6 inch) art quilt every week for 5 years!

Road to Home Blue Ribbon Winner, 2009 Mancuso Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza

Road to Home
Blue Ribbon Winner
2009 Mancuso Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza

We moved from Baltimore to Chicago in the middle of 2007, so my quilts that year are very autobiographical.  

By doing that work for five years, I ended up teaching myself lots of design and art principles that serve me now with my current work. I developed a “style” of cartoony faces that are completely recognizable by others as my own. I think that if I didn’t do those quilts I would not nearly have honed my artistic voice as much as I have. It’s a great “journal” to be able to go back to see where it all started.  I also did one whole year of “Technique of the Week” which I documented on my YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/muppindotcom).

I had to make up some techniques just to get to 52 different ones. I like learning new things and trying new tools, so I plan to continue my video series in 2016 with a new season of Technique of the Week!

Two of Cheryl Sleboda's weekly quilts from Year 3.

Two of Cheryl’s weekly quilts from Year 3.

Every year, I would change my own rules. In Year 3 (2009) of my weekly series, I did a group of quilts based on heirloom sewing and fabric manipulation. This has become one of the things I most enjoy. I made a quilt with 44 different fabric manipulation techniques in it. That quilt was the inspiration for my DVD “Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today’s Quilter.” I do these techniques by both hand and machine, and I now have a plastic template for people who want to do the heirloom Canadian smocking techniques.

Another thing I am known for is for lighting up my quilts. In 2010,  the very first “Technique of the Week” weekly quilt went viral . . . I used conductive thread in a quilt. Conductive thread  conducts electricity like wire. I made a bunch of quilts that are inspired by underwater life, as lots of creatures under the sea have a natural bioluminescence. No one was lighting up quilts at the time, and even now, it’s not for everyone, but I feel like I have been there from the early days of the technology. Now there are computer chips to program your lights that can be programmed from your cell phone. I started selling Light Up kits on my website and I’m now the quilting world’s eTextile expert, I guess!

 

“Geschwindigkeit (Speed)” Judge’s Choice - Mancuso Quiltfest Destination Savannah 2014

“Geschwindigkeit (Speed)”
Judge’s Choice – Mancuso Quiltfest Destination Savannah 2014

A couple of years ago I drew a skull and crossed thread-and-needle design while on a phone call at work. I loved it so much, I turned the design into a t-shirt. Next thing you know, my friends all wanted one. My husband had been out of work for over a year and I realized that there was money to be made, so a new side business was born. With the last $300 in our savings, we started selling shirts, and reinvested our profits back into the business. We developed other designs for shirts, patches, mugs, stickers, sweatshirts and much more. These are now available to quilt shops through distributors, launching with Checker in early 2015. Since I work for a distributor in comics, it’s a bit full-circle. This income and my quilting teaching income supplemented my full time income until my husband returned to work in 2014. All of my products are available through my online store at  http://shop.muppin.com.

As an extension of what I do for the comic book industry, I started giving people advice on their art businesses. Early in 2015 my friend Lynn and I did a recorded webinar about how to launch an art business. I have since written, taught, and lectured about business topics for quilt businesses on branding, time management, social media, and much more!
 
So I work full time, and I feel like I work full time on my art business too.  Since the move back to the Chicago area, I get to work out of my house, so I know I am incredibly lucky. I try to sew at least an hour a day in some fashion, with much more on the weekends. My goal is to make at least two large quilts for entry into quilt competitions each year. I also work on lots of small projects throughout the year. I have my business social media and other marketing plans worked out to be done in a very tight schedule, so I don’t get burned out. I teach and lecture to quilt guilds, and I love doing that. I have a huge bucket list of things I haven’t done yet, like write a book or design fabric, but I have lots of time ahead of me to get those accomplished. When I put my mind to it, anything is possible. I love what I do!

www.muppin.com
 

 
[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”26156954″]

Speak Your Mind

*