by Victoria Howell
Art quilter Heidi Zielinski of Stevensville will be featured this fall on PBS’s “Quilting Arts TV.” This is a significant opportunity for a quilter.
Zielinski said she turned to quilting as an art form well into her adult life. “My mom was a quilter for many years,” says Zielinski. “I never really picked it up until my mom sent me a sewing machine. I was married and living in Illinois. I started messing around with it a little.
But it wasn’t until I moved back to Montana and had my son that I started doing art quilts.”
Zielinski turned her art quilting into a business in 2007, calling it Fiber Into Art by Heidi.
She describes her vibrant, mostly colorful quilt pieces as “abstract, nature inspired wall hangings using fabric. They’re heavily stitched, both machine and hand stitched, usually with beads added.” Most of her pieces are small, with an average size of 18” by 22”. All of her work is personally inspired.
Zielinski shows her work at The Artists Shop in downtown Missoula, and also at River’s Mist Gallery in Stevensville. She also currently has pieces at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center. She regularly sends out pieces to juried art and quilt shows, and regularly gets accepted. Right now she has a couple of pieces at a show in Virginia.
In February, she was contacted by Susan Brubaker Knapp of Quilting Arts TV which has been running on PBS since 2007. Brubaker Knapp asked Zielinski if she wanted to be on the show. “They film a whole season in a week,” says Zielinski. “They pick multiple artists to be on the show, each artist usually does three segments. I submitted six and they chose four of them.” Zielinski will be on Series 2900 which will air in October. She’s not sure when it will be on Montana PBS. She said one of the segments might go to the following season.
The four segments featuring Zielinski are “Small Monochromatic Art Quilts,” “Strata Art Quilts” (long, narrow quilts made up of strips of fabric),“ “Stamping On Art Quilts” (using fabric paint and paper stamps to add imagery to the piece) and “Combining Free Motion Stitching and Hand Embroidery on Art Quilts.”
The same company also chose one of the segments for a quilting magazine they produce. The magazine, Quilting Arts, is the main magazine that art quilters read; Zielinski says she’s been reading it for years.
“Both these things could be pretty beneficial for me,” says Zielinski.
Interestingly, after Zielinski had accepted the invitation to be filmed for the show, she went on vacation and when she returned, a serious neck pain prompted her to get an MRI. She ended up seeing a neurosurgeon, and finally having surgery followed by a neck brace, all while preparing for the show. “It was very stressful,” said Zielinski, “worrying about the timing.”
On July 7th she had her follow-up appointment with the surgeon, who declared that all was well. The segments were filmed on July 20th in Golden, Colorado. Zielinski got a grant from the Montana Arts Council to help with travel expenses, plus a stipend from the company.
She said she met some of the other artists, and stayed with a very well-known artist, Lea McComas, who has a piece that will be in the Clinton Library permanent collection.
She also got to know the producer of the show and editor of the magazine, Vivika Hansen DeNegre.
“It was exciting,” says Zielinski. “They called us ‘the talent’. I had to get my first manicure because there were so many close-ups of our hands during the filming. Also make-up and airbrushing.”
If you’re interested in seeing the segments, you can get video downloads or stream those episodes at quiltingdaily.com.
Zielinski has been involved with Bitterroot Quilt Guild and the Sapphire Quilt Guild, as well as the Montana Bricolage Artists. She said “bricolage basically means ‘stuff’ because we use all different kinds of things on our art quilts.” She’s also a member of a national organization, Studio Art Quilt Associates. She regularly teaches classes on art quilting and you can find her on Facebook at fiberintoartbyheidi and on Instagram at fiber_into_art.