THE ART AND QUILT FUSION OF ESTERITA AUSTIN
Esterita Austin followed her artistic dreams long before becoming a quilter. Her first career as a high school art teacher fed her talented soul with drawing, painting, printmaking, photography,
ceramics, and the opportunity to teach the things she loved. When it was time to raise a family, Esterita didn’t just take a break, she retired—or so she thought at the time.
It wasn’t long before the quilting bug bit…
“While in the grocery line at the supermarket, I saw an adorable teddy bear quilt on the cover of Family Circle magazine,” Esterita says. “I went out to my local fabric store, which actually was a Woolworth’s Five and Ten Cent Store. I bought the finest fabric that they had, calicoes in red, yellow, green, and blue. I remember it was $.88 a yard. I put together a similar teddy bear quilt with zigzag stitch, backed it with a percale sheet, and tied it at various points to secure it. I thought that was quilting. And one of my sons still cherishes that quilt to this day.”
A few years after Esterita started quilting, her husband passed away. With three children from the ages of one through seven, she realized she had to make some sort of a living to support them. Making the best of her new love of quilting, she tried to make a go of it. “I could work on a quilt and just put it down at the drop of a hat if a child woke up from a nap, with no messy paints or printer’s ink.” By this time she had discovered the most satisfying form of quilting for her blend of talents: art quilting.
Bagdad Theater by Esterita Austin
Esterita started teaching art quilting locally, and soon—as the Internet evolved—she was able to reach out to guilds around the country, traveling to enlarge her circle of teaching influence.
Her love of teaching, especially to adults without the discipline problems encountered in high schools, blossomed. Opportunities to be published in magazines and books arose, as did television appearances.
Trattoria GiGi 2 by Esterita Austin
Every quilter goes through many stages and tries a variety of techniques. Esterita was no exception. She began as a traditional quilter, switched to creating art quilts with fused fabric appliqué, and now has morphed into transferring paint onto organza and quilting it. It’s a new technique that she developed and she loves it. The method is very user friendly; letters and objects don’t need to be reversed. She teaches her technique all over the United States and beyond.
Grilled by Esterita Austin
Each September for the past 12 years, Esterita has offered workshops and tours in Tuscany, saturated by the architectural and landscape grandeur of Italy surrounding the villa where the workshops are held. Attendees often bring their husbands, sisters, or others to join them in art quilting, painting, or gourmet cooking. The workshop experiences offer something for
everyone plus tours of Florence and Siena.
“I keep saying it’s my last year, but then people keep signing up and I keep going back; not that I’m complaining! It’s truly my happy place,” she says. Italy and other travels provide great food for inspiration, and she has created many pieces around photographed images. The Day After and Rust were inspired by trips to the north fork of Long Island, New York.
Rust by Esterita Austin
What’s her favorite quilt? “It is always the one I’m working on at the time,” Esterita admits. “I don’t think I could love another one more, but then the next one comes along. I love being a fiber artist because it really allows me to express myself in a very fulfilling way. I think more than being a fiber artist I enjoy teaching. There is nothing as satisfying as seeing a student when they have that light bulb moment or they accomplish something they never thought they were capable of. That’s the best!”
The Day After by Esterita Austin
Find out more about Esterita at www.esteritaaustin.com.
Source: 2017 AQS Quiltweek – Daytona Showbook by Ann Hammel