On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about quilting as creative expression with my guest Zak Foster.
Raised in rural North Carolina and now living in Brooklyn, New York, Zak is a self-taught artist whose work draws on Southern textile traditions while incorporating found fabrics and natural dyes with an eye for sustainability. He practices an approach to design that is intuitive and improvisational and he is drawn to preserving the stories of quilts and specializes in memory quilts and burial quilts. His work has been featured in various magazines, websites, and galleries. His online community, The Quilty Nook, connects and inspires quilters all over the world.
This episode is sponsored by Academy for Virtual Teaching.
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Zak with his burial quilt, Jackpot.
We begin this interview with Zak talking about his creative expression as a child. Although he considered going to art school, he decided to study Spanish instead and became a high school Spanish teacher. When his friends began having children, Zak started making baby quilts to give as gifts and that was the beginning of his quilting journey.
For 18 years, Zak taught Spanish and pursued quilting in his spare time. Just this year, he left his teaching job and is now working on his business full time. We talk about the nuts and bolts of his business including his newsletter strategy. Zak recommends a specific email service provider. Zak has done a crowdfunding campaign and he explains the rewards he created for that. And most recently he has built an online quilting community, first on Patreon and now on Mighty Networks. He explains the difference between the two and why he chose to make this move.
Zak does a lot of commissions. He talks about creating memorial quilts and burial quilts, including the burial quilt he made for himself. Zak had the opportunity to create one side of a quilt that was worn at the Met Gala. He tells the story of how this commission came to be, his approach to making it, and what it was like to see the quilt worn by A$AP.
I ask Zak to talk about his Instagram strategy as well as the portraits he takes of himself with the quilts that he makes.
In this conversation, we reference:
And, of course, I ask Zak to recommend great stuff he’s loving right now. Zak recommends:
- riding a bicycle downhill
- making crafty schemes to change the world