Sunday, September 27, 2009


Melanie Testa is an accomplished textile designer and quilt artist from Brooklyn, New York. Her art often explores themes of the human form, birds and nature. A graduate of the Textile/Surface Design program at The Fashion Institute of Technology, she is also the author of the recently released book Inspired to Quilt: Creative Experiments in Art Quilt Imagery.


RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO: Favorite place you've been or lived?
MELANIE TESTA: Flagstaff, Arizona.

RWSS: Have you ever held a traditional 9-5 job?
MELANIE: Loved it, as a Vintage Poster Restoration Artist. It taught me to mix color, draw and work in many styles.

RWSS: Who's on your i-pod?
MELANIE: Alexi Murdock, Iron and Wine, Califone and Ane Brun.


RWSS: Favorite quote?
MELANIE: "You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand". Woodrow Wilson.


RWSS: Best advice you've ever received?
MELANIE: Follow your heart, work hard, keep doing your work.


RWSS: Worst advice you've ever received?
MELANIE: I can't remember. I guess it is better not to remember bad advice.

RWSS: What do you do to unwind?
MELANIE: I knit and spin yarn or do visual journalising in coffee shops.

RWSS: If you had to choose another career what would it be?
MELANIE: I want to make durable and comfortable shoes.

RWSS: Are there any of your own pieces that you can't bear to part with?
MELANIE: I will part with any of my pieces, I love making things better than having them. I find more pleasure in process than product.

RWSS: Best part of your day?
MELANIE: Coffee in the morning or a glass of red wine as soon as my man comes home on Friday evening.

RWSS: I'd be lost without.......
MELANIE: My backpack filled with journalising supplies.

RWSS: Did you enjoy the process of authoring your first book? Will we see more in your future?
MELANIE: I loved writing my first book, just loved it! This is the sort of 'work' stress that I love. I created more than 30 pieces with all step-outs seen in the book in 7 months time.
I hope to do a mixed media visual journalising book next. And I think about doing one on design and composition too.

RWSS: Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day?
MELANIE: Frida Kahlo. We would spend the day cooking, talking and eating. I wouldn't mind visiting her studio either: I know I would have to time travel to do this but...... Still......

RWSS: What is the one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
MELANIE: I do not have cable television. Maybe that is why I do so many varied activities.

RWSS: What are you most excited about right now in the world of art quilting?
MELANIE: The sheer creativity found in the medium. Surface design is just one aspect of making art in the medium of quilt art and freedom and spontaneity are showing through in every style.


RWSS: What do you enjoy most about your work?
MELANIE: Creating art clears my mind and creates an empty, serene mental state. I love the ecstasy of immersion a good piece brings.


RWSS: Do you have a dedicated studio space?
MELANIE: Not really. I have a third of the living room for my dye work and what should be a walk in closet for a sewing room, but it works! I live in Brooklyn, New York. Apartments are tiny, the city becomes your living room, dining room and backyard.

RWSS: Is anyone else in your family creative?
MELANIE: My father is creative, whether cooking, playing the electronic piano or just plain thinking. My Mom gave me focus and fortitude. Both are creative attributes, really. My husband makes music - it is fun to watch sound enter him.


RWSS: How many sewing machines do you own? Which one is your favorite?
MELANIE: I have a Bernina 440, a Bernina 1001 and a Bernette serger. I need to lower my voice to say it but......the 440 is my favorite. If my 1001 finds out, I will know one of your readers had something to do with it! LOL

RWSS: Best dessert?
MELANIE: Creme Brulee.....tap, tap, tap. Yum.


RWSS: Any words of wisdom?
MELANIE: Find your own creative center, explore motifs that really speak to you and break all the rules while having lots of fun.


We are pleased to offer Melanie's first book Inspired to Quilt in our online store. Filled with hands-on exercises, projects and invaluable tips and tricks, it is designed to guide quilters, fiber and mixed media artists on the creative journey to creating art quilts.


Melanie is available for both workshops and lectures. To learn more about this inspiring artist and her work please visit the website