By Srianthi Perera

Quilting is “plork” for Marla Hattabaugh, who coined the word to denote a mix of play and work.

The Scottsdale artist recently opened These Are Not Your Grandmother’s Quilts: The Art Works of Marla Hattabaugh, an exhibit at Chandler’s Vision Gallery that runs through Jan. 7, showcasing colorful art quilt.

Hattabaugh’s quilts are not like your grandmother’s vintage quilts because Hattabaugh uses hand-processed fabric and one-of-a-kind designs, she says.

“Quilting is a passion that I feel is important in my love of art and sensitivity to color and shape,” she said. “It’s something that I can explain to a person who is creative in whatever they love. Some love cooking, hiking, reading, writing, building houses, pots, gardens.”

Hattabaugh began her pastime 43 years ago, when her daughter was in pre-school.

“Mother gave me a kit from a friend. My husband bet me I’d never finish it, so, of course, I did,” she said.

Over the years, she cast aside traditional quilt patterns and settled on quilt art based on quirky imagery and ideas. A case in point is her Giraffe Series; fun and evocative of the graceful creatures.

“The Giraffe Series started many years ago, when I decided I’d like to be taller than I am,” Hattabaugh states in her website, marlasquilts.com. “A teacher indicated the commercially printed fabrics I was using were trite, and not in keeping with art. To combat that, I made the whole quilt oriented around that shape.”

Hattabaugh’s pieces have been on display in shows across the U.S. and Europe.

“Sometimes, I see a photo that inspires me to make something similar in my use of fabric. Then I search for the right colors to complete the project,” she said. “Cutting shapes and sewing them together is the next step. There’s a wall with batting that I use to put up the parts. Once they are in what I think looks good, I start the sewing process. Adjustments often have to be made. … There are ‘coping’ strips to connect parts that don’t fit the first time around.”

Hattabaugh offers words of advice to the would-be quilter: “Keep working.”

“Look at art, other quilts, pictures, postcards and nature,” she said. “There’s inspiration everywhere.”

However, she acknowledges that it does not pay the bills.

“When I’m not working on a quilt, I feel restless and at odds with the day,” she said. “Because of humor and appreciation for the good in my life, I pass along those feelings.”

Vision Gallery is at 10 E. Chicago St., Chandler, and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Hattabaugh’s collection is  on display through Jan. 7. Details: visiongallery.org.

Hattabaugh is the juror for this year’s Art Quilt exhibit at Chandler Center for the Arts Gallery, appropriately titled In Stitches: Seriously Humorous Art Quilts. The exhibit runs through Jan. 7 at 250 N. Arizona Ave, Chandler, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Details: chandlercenter.org.

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