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2020 Featured Quilter 

Milla Malchow

I live in the Pine Bluffs, just north of Fort Laramie, where my studio overlooks the majestic Wyoming prairie. Unlike most art studios you might imagine, my studio isn’t filled with brushes and paint. Instead, it is jam-packed with a sewing machine, fabrics, and threads of all colors! I learned to sew when I was very young, growing up in Russia. In Russian schools there was a special class for girls and boys with a focus on sewing, and the first thing I learned to sew was clothing. I never learned to quilt, but in the past few years I have found this to be my artistic passion which also brings me back to my roots in Russia.

It all started in 2015, when my husband bought me a Bernina sewing machine. Through online lessons and books, I taught myself how to use my new sewing machine for quilting. I immediately saw the vast artistic potential that comes from patterning and designing quilts. While I have always been creative, I primarily worked in 2D mediums, such as oils, acrylics, watercolors, and graphite. I saw quilting as a new way to express my artistic vision and jumped in head first without ever looking back! I love to try new techniques and invent new patterns – I don’t just follow the rules! I started doing thread art because it is a process that I find to be more interesting, more unique, than what you see in most galleries. Of course, it is more difficult. It is a challenge that I happily decided to take on! I liken my style of thread art to painting with fibers; I use thread as if it were a paint brush.

My process and quilting technique requires an incredible amount of planning and control. I take particular care to ensure my thread paintings aren’t simply flat shapes by incorporating shadows and textures. These shadows are created by adding multiple layers and gradients of colored thread.  A single piece can take hundreds of shades of thread and hundreds of thousands of stitches to complete, requiring long hours of work to get everything just right.  My work has been featured in shows both nationally and internationally, and can be seen on popular websites and blogs online.