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Mary Fons-Performer, Writer, Artist

September 23, 2010 in General

maryfons_lg_olPerformer, writer, artist … when it comes to creativity and drive, Mary Fons has it all. But she hasn’t stopped there – recently, this gifted Chicago girl has been developing a fast-growing career as a quilting host and blogger. And, much like the pieced quilts she loves to create, Mary’s various skills and talents have been merging together, allowing her to create a unique place for herself in the quilting world.

“My first memory – really, my very very first one – is of sitting on my mom’s lap while she hand quilted,” Mary says. “It was me on one knee, her hoop on the other.” Growing up, Mary learned how to sew and quilt by making projects with her mother, Marianne Fons of Fons & Porter. However, as a child, Mary focused more on drawing, painting, and eventually theater.

“I have always been a performer. Performance and theater were just one avenue of the art that I have had to make since I was a toddler,” says Mary, who majored in Theater Arts at the University of Iowa, graduating as the valedictorian of her class.

Mary continues to perform to this day as a Neo-Futurists – a collective of highly-talented and “wildly productive” writers, directors and actors in Chicago. Mary auditioned to be an ensemble member in 2005 and was one of two women chosen out of 200.

In addition to performing, Mary also makes a living as a professional freelance writer, script writer, and acclaimed slam poet known for her passionate live readings. As a writer, Mary has a special appreciation for the storytelling aspect of quilts.

With so many creative avenues, it’s hard to imagine that Mary has time to quilt. However, Mary has recently rediscovered the art, and it has led to another career – as a host for quilting programs. A few years ago, Mary began appearing on her mother’s show, Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting. Mary’s segments appealed to new and younger quilters. However, the segments also began to ignite a true love of quilting in Mary.

“About a year ago, I became obsessed. I think it was just the right time in my life. All these ideas and designs just flooded my brain and right now, I’d say I spend at least 2 hours a day on my latest quilt top,” says Mary. “At first, it was just fun to work with my mom. Then it became satisfying in more ways in terms of work, performance, and the art of the quilt, which was increasingly interesting and important to me. Now that I’m doing more in the industry, it seems like it was all sort of meant to be.”

In addition to her reoccurring Love of Quilting segments, Mary is also about to host and produce a new show for the Quilting News Network called Quilty. The show, found online at QNNTV.com, also has a corresponding blog written by Mary.

These days, much like a quilter pulls from her stash of fabric, Mary is tapping into all of her passions and areas of expertise while she explores her new quilting career.

“I do wear a lot of different hats, but they all work in tandem. Now that I’m doing more with the quilt industry, I find my performance skills serve the shows I do with Mom on Love of Quilting, and also on Quilty. The writing skills I’ve honed as a professional freelancer/script writer are being used for the Quilty blog and of course my quilting skills are getting focus. And my art skills are coming in very handy as I make quilts and design them, too. I love that I’m pulling out my watercolor set more and more these days.”

These days, Mary has been quilting like crazy on the Baby Lock Melody (“It’s a great machine; I’ve really bonded with it.”) and is excited to take long-arm classes this fall. She finds inspiration for new patterns from fashion, art and classic quilt patterns.

“Making a quilt top, for me, is like taking a bath in a beautiful hotel room. It’s this crazy indulgent thing, but you’re actually getting clean, so it’s serving a purpose. Making a quilt feels so good and so fun to me, sometimes I feel guilty about it,” Mary says. “It’s like, it can’t possibly be good that I’m starting another quilt. But of course it’s part of my job at this point to produce quilts, so there’s that, but quilts are also works of art and they are functional art, so there’s always an honest reason to make one. Someone will be warmed by a quilt, or pleased by it, or given it as a gift.”

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