Mary Ellen Kranz

Mary Ellen Kranz is a quilting rock star.  Really.  And to take it one step further, she’s a wonderful, caring, cheerful human being and we’re grateful to have her in our lives.  Once a technology manager in the corporate world, MEK transferred her skills to printing images on fabric and then she set about transforming the world of quilting and pushing the image of little old ladies with a needle and thread to tech savvy women with digital cameras and computerized sewing machines.  This is the third year the Mary Ellen will be teaching at FC…this time she’s making the coolest of aprons…some might say wicked cool heirloom aprons.

She responded to our interview questions with these thoughts:

Presumably you’ve been an artist all your life…when and how did you decide to label yourself as one?

I think it was when a publisher saw the quilts in my classroom and asked me if I would write a book. And when I started using business cards for my own business, I had to give myself a title and ‘textile artist’ seemed right. I did art as long as I can remember but never thought about the title until I ‘went public’.

If your life were a box of paints…would you be pastel colors, jewel tones, flesh tones or black, white and shades of gray?

I love Maine for its pure, primary hues. So I guess I’d say the basic box of 8 Crayola crayons with a silver/gray thrown in (for the fog!).

Tell us about your first attempts to be creative.

I remember making doll clothes made from the scraps of neon colored tulle, satin and sequins on the floor of my mom’s bedroom where she sewed. She made costumes for a dancing school and I loved dressing my doll from those scraps in such flamboyant style!

If you could have any mode of transportation in the world…how would you get from place to place?

Any way as long as someone else drives so I can watch the scenery!

What is your favorite art related book?

Oh Wow, that’s hard. Right now it is a book about the landscape artist, Wolf Kahn.

6. Do you make a living with your art?

The income from my books and teaching supports my habit (art) with a little left over for the necessities. When I made the switch from a corporate job to full time artist, my income the first year as an artist was 5% of my income the prior year. Fortunately, I had saved a little before I made that switch!

What is your preferred environment when you’re in a creative mood?

Near a window. Even if it is just doodling in my sketchbook at an airport, I find a seat in the terminal that looks outside.

What do you wish you could do?

I wish I could stop the suffering of so many people in the world.

If you were forced to give up your current artistic medium, what medium would you pursue next?

There’s not enough room to answer that! I’d like to try furniture making, spinning, metal sculpture, encaustic painting, bookmaking, glass art, ….. I had better live a long life to get all that in, don’t you think?

What is your favorite art related website/blog?

DigitalGran

Women’s Journeys in Fiber

Luminous Landscapes

Name five adjectives that best describe you at your best.

teacher (MEK…is that an adjective? :)), optimistic, creative, funny, generous

Are you currently working in “the perfect” studio? What does your perfect creative space look like? What would we find in the drawers and cabinets?

I have a great studio but not a “perfect” one. I’d love to work in a tree house and have lots of comfortable chairs for friends to come and visit. Right now the drawers and cabinets are stuffed with fabric, thread, and photo inspirations and my sewing machine is next to the window. I bet if I tried, I could cram in a couple of chairs!

With the tap of a magic wand, you can go anywhere and study with anyone…time is of no essence…what are you doing and with whom?

I’ve always wanted to go to Bali to learn the process of making batik fabric.

When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

A minute ago at some of the answers to these questions!

How many projects do you generally have going at one time?

Many. Perhaps ten ongoing projects as well as small fabric studies. I’m not sure if that makes me an artist or a procrastinator!

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