Artist at Work: Meg Callahan
Recently, we got a glimpse behind the scenes with one of our makers, quilter Meg Callahan, who shared the swatches, sketches, and finished photos above as we prepare to launch her terrain-exclusive collection. Drawing upon the "keepsakes and landscapes" that she loves, Meg hand-crafts each of her quilts, a process that can take up to ten weeks from the first sketch to the final stitch. Feeling inspired ourselves by the thoughtfulness and skill apparent in each of her creations, we sat down with Meg to learn what inspires her.
terrain: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you started making quilts?
Meg: I’m from Oklahoma, where the landscape is very flat and plain, but the sky changes dramatically all the time. A lot of the inspiration for my quilting comes from observing the daily changes in nature.
I’m not from a family of quilters, and I initially studied furniture design at RISD—I enjoyed the mathematical, structural elements of it. But, I was also interested in soft goods and materials, so I started sewing. Quilting feels to me like the perfect balance of construction, math, and expression. I’m also very curious about traditional craft processes—I like to understand the reasons for the way that someone does something. Quilting attracted me because it’s such a time-honored process, so much love and care goes into the making of each quilt. My first quilt began with a visual idea, and I worked backward from there. I did a lot of research, and also talked to quilters to learn some tricks while I was starting out. It took a very long time!
terrain: Does a particular tradition of quilting inspire you?
Meg: I’m inspired by Amish quilts because their clean, straightforward designs and solid colors feel very contemporary. Right now, I’m also into trapunto, or “whole cloth,” quilting, a style that creates texture with embroidery rather than patchwork. I’m also lucky to work with a group of very talented women who are always sharing what techniques they’re learning, too.
terrain: You cite “keepsakes and landscapes" as your main sources of inspiration. How do those sources of inspiration shape your work?
Meg: The "landscapes" element comes back to Oklahoma; the landscape there truly changes every day with the sky and the weather is often very epic in scale. I’m also inspired by the landscapes I see on road trips-- seeing things from a car never ceases to amaze me! Month-long summer road trips were a tradition in my family when I was younger; my parents loved them. Recently, I took a road trip from Rhode Island to California, then from California to Oklahoma. Seeing the changes—especially in color—from state to state was a remarkable experience. I loved the red dirt of Oklahoma, the mountains of Colorado, and so many other sights.
As for keepsakes, I come from a family of collectors. I have a collection of thimbles as well as an annual box of keepsakes that I start fresh each year. The box helps me document all my experiences during that year in a material, tangible form that I can look back on later.
terrain: What are some of your favorite keepsakes and landscapes?
Meg: Until this point in my life, Oklahoma has been my biggest inspiration. Especially when I was away from home, pieces inspired by the landscape there helped me refer back to the place where I grew up. After my recent road trip, I’m increasingly inspired by desert and ocean landscapes, especially California where the land is very dry but you’re right next to the ocean.
terrain: What keepsakes or landscapes inspired your designs for terrain?
Meg: The team at terrain sent some ideas, and they were very much parallel to the colors I was interested in at the time—pale, neutral, grassy tones with pops of color. I also visited terrain in Westport and was drawn to the colors and textures of the greenhouses. Later, when the quilts were done, I shot the final products in a similar environment. The collection is inspired by the pairing of consistent, neutral shades with brighter moments. That combination reminds me of elements in nature, like the sun glaring off the ocean to intensify a landscape.
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Que Linda! Thank you for taking the time and love you put into your artistry--a rare concept these days. Happy Nesting.