Friday, May 25, 2012

Q.I. classics: The Adventures of Rob Appell

We first featured Rob Appell's work in August 2010, and he has since expanded his collection of Endangered Species designs. A self-described surf quilter, Rob is a designer who takes "a manly approach to quilt making and love for the ocean".  His unique quilt patterns are featured at his website, Rob Appell Designs (Morro Bay, California).  Read on for some fun quilts and our interview with Rob!

Red Eyed Tree Frog, 40 x 32, by Rob Appell at Rob Appell Designs

The red eyed tree frog, which makes its home in tropical forests of Central America, is one of the most colorful creatures on earth (see below).  Rob's quilt pattern captures the detail of the frog's bright red eyes.

Red eyed tree frog, photo by Michael Caldwell for Discover Magazine
Red Wolf by Rob Appell at Rob Appell Designs

The red wolf once roamed throughout the Southeastern United States. The red wolf became extinct in the wild by 1980. Through a captive breeding program the animals are considered to be successfully breeding in the wild once again.  The incredible detail in Rob's design shows the sharp eyes of this canine hunter.

Red Wolf seen at HikeClimbSurfRun

Bengal Tiger, 41 x 41, by Rob Appell at Rob Appell Designs

Rob's Bengal Tiger quilt pattern is one of his most popular. At a finished size of 41 x 41", this tiger is larger than life!

Bengal Tiger close up, wallpaper, at Scenic Reflections

Take a look at the photos of Rob's students showing their finished pieces !  You can see all the animals, birds and fish that are featured on the endangered species page at Rob's website.  A portion of the proceeds from the sales of his Endangered Species patterns is donated to an endangered species charity.  We were fortunate to have a chance to interview Rob about his quilts and his inspiration:

Quilt Inspiration: Did you always think you would be a textile designer and art quilter? Or, did this "career" take you by surprise?

Rob Appell: A total surprise. I have always loved to create art, but never knew much about textiles. I love to draw and thought of graphic design, but was afraid to connect a career to it. I did not want to lose my art and income due to stress. I moved home after a few years of traveling around, and started helping out around my Mom’s quilt shop, The Cotton Ball in Morro Bay, CA. It took a few years for the quilt pox to catch, but I could not be happier today doing what I do.

Q.I.  How and when did the idea come about for the Endangered Species Project?

Rob Appell: The idea was a group effort between Michael Miller Fabrics and myself and started back in March of 2009. I was challenged with creating a line of quilts that would be easy to do, and able to keep in the cycle much longer. My seascapes are more fabric specific, and when the fabrics ran out, the seascapes became harder to do. I chose Michael Miller’s Fairy Frost line, it has close to a hundred different colors to choose from, and it will be around for along time. The other goal was to create a project line that allowed quilters to feel like they were “making a difference” through their love of quilting. Many of the Michael Miller Team and I hold the Endangered Animals close to our hearts. After a surf trip in Costa Rica, I was overwhelmed with the ideas and could not wait to get started.

Q.I. Your quilts include applique (e.g. Endangered Species), pieced designs (watercolor quilts), and combinations of the two methods. Do you have a favorite technique or style that you prefer to work in, or one just comes naturally to you?

Rob Appell: I really do enjoy the free motion machine quilting, so anything I can quilt on is a favorite. I do love to design through raw-edge appliqué using Heat ‘n Bond lite (FYI Heat n’ Bond is coming out with feather lite – and it is awesome) and I do not like to have to work too hard, so I create backgrounds as either pieced or a single color of fabric that lend to the design. On the Endangered Species, one of the Fairy Frost fabrics is the back ground and shows through where the appliqués are not placed. It makes the need for precision much less, which is a lead into my next answer too.

Q.I. You mentioned that your book includes advice on "taking life less seriously" and yet you are a very productive designer, which seems like a potential contradiction in real life. Can you explain your philosophy on life, and how you mesh your priorities?

Rob Appell: I love this question, and yes I am becoming a filthy liar (in that aspect). I work around the clock to be a good designer, Quilt Shop owner, Sewing machine technician and educator. I hardly rest, but I am trying not to let it make me panic. The life less seriously is more to the tune that my quilts are not perfect, my stitches are not even and my patterns do not have to be done with accuracy. What I pray is that I am able to be seen as a Blessing and Creative inspiration to all that I come in contact with. That I may uplift people with my smile, and help them achieve their creative goals. I want folks to not worry so much about all the little details in their work, and see the beautiful work that they are creating. I like to make people laugh, but the harder I work to support the animals the more changes I see needing be made in my own life.

Q.I.: What are your goals and aspirations for Rob Appell Designs... where would you like to be in 5 or 10 years?

Rob Appell: In five years, to be able to start slowing down the drive, and push for more patterns and be more involved in creating quilts that will be one of a kind. Also, I am just now taking over my Mom’s shop and I would like to see it be able to run itself so that I may create more, and play more. I am blessed to have a very busy career today, but I have two children that need to go camping and swimming, play dolls and legos, and see the world.

In ten years, I will be getting ready to watch my oldest graduate from high school and learn to drive, I hope my Quilt shop and career will still be booming, but I want to live off the grid, and be able to do what I do from anywhere so that my family and I can benefit from my years of hard work. Plus, I will only be in my mid forties, which is comforting.

Q.I. Do you have some new projects and ideas on the near horizon, and can you tell us about them?

Rob Appell: Always! I have three more animals to create and I would love to start traveling with the whole line of quilts to places folks would not expect to see a quilt showing: Zoos, Animal Parks, Earth Day Festivals, raise money for more awareness, and promote using art to better our environment.

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