Creative Therapy: helen kent

Please tell us a little about yourself…

Hi, some of you may know me already but I’m Helen, lucky enough to be assistant editor to British Patchwork and Quilting magazine. I work part time for P&Q, two days elsewhere in an office and then I also teach what started out as a Beginners Patchwork and Quilting class at my local shop on a Friday afternoon.

Where/how did you learn your craft(s)?

As a lot of people who love to sew I’ve always had a passion for arts and crafts. My Mum taught me to sew dolls clothes and I then went onto dressmaking everything from ball gowns and my wedding dress to fancy dress costumes! I enjoyed painting with my Dad, taking a watercolour course with him before he died – a time I treasure. As my boys grew the painting changed from watercolour to Warhammer! Tiny elven armies – still fun. And then I discovered Patchwork and Quilting, starting at the local shop I now teach in.

How do you feel craft has impacted your life?

I don’t think I would keep sane without some sort of artistic release. I suffered a bout of depression after losing four close family members in a short space of time, one being my Father. Being the eldest child I was the ‘strong’ one that held the family together, supporting my Mum, Brother and Husband who were all grieving. Unfortunately, I didn’t give myself time to heal and now, when I look back, I feel I lost virtually eight years in that negative space. A move to the countryside certainly helped along with exercise and now I work with inspirational people, beautiful fabrics and creative designers! Sometimes I feel that I’ll burst if I don’t ‘do’ some sort of art work. P&Q has provided me an outlet that can change on a pin head (forgive the pun!) from traditional patchwork, to colourful art quilts, to delicate embroidery – whatever mood I’m in there is something that can fill that void.

Do you do anything to pass the crafting bug on to others?

I love my job. Working on the magazine can be stressful on occasion but getting the message out there is wonderful. I get to meet so many quilters/artists that are inspiring, from local groups to famous quilters. There is something to learn from all. As I said I teach a class at my local shop and I really enjoy this too. Seeing someone learn and develop their skills is rewarding. It started as a beginner’s class but has developed into the ‘whatever you want’ class. I try and do a mini talk or practical session every other week where we learn a new technique or perhaps talk about tools of the trade whilst they also work on whatever projects they have on the go.

Is there anyone you find particularly inspirational in the crafting world?

Well, I’d have to start with Joanna (Kent, editor on P&Q) who has held my hand through the P&Q Magazine role. Judi (Mendelssohn) is wonderful and has inspired me too, she led me on to meet Ricky Tims, an American quilter, who’s artistic approach to quilting was eye opening and has changed the way I approach a project. But the list could go on – Contemporary Quilters West are a group of creative quilters that I just love to visit and well, where am I going next week? I’m sure someone else will be there to lead me on my next step…

Do you do anything to share your creations? (gifting/selling?)

Most of my projects are gifted, for home or for workshops. Recently my eldest son was fundraising for a trip so I did make quite a few items for that to sell and my youngest will be doing the same thing soon – better get busy!

What is next on the agenda for you?

Just keep sewing…. The beginning of this year I set myself the target of finishing a lot of the projects I had on the go (over ten at the last count). Quilts can take quite some time, especially hand quilting them, but I have managed to finish most – and do two or three extra ones too…. I may even enter a few quilt competitions, if I can find the courage!