On The Road

Fabric Collage With Susan Carlson

Over a year ago, Candace and I signed up for a 5 day fabric collage class at the Woodland Ridge Retreat in Wisconsin. Well known fabric artist Susan Carlson was leading the retreat and teaching her unique method of collage using pins and glue – with no templates allowed! After months of anticipation, weeks of deciding on just the right subject, days of preparation, and 9 hours of driving we arrived at our destination. We were greeted warmly by Chris Daly, the proprietor of Woodland Ridge, who proved to be a hostess extraordinaire. After settling in to our room it was hard to wait for class to begin the next day!

A few of her small fabric collage quilts that Susan brought to show the class.

Following morning introductions and a demo/lecture by Susan, our trepidatious but enthusiastic group of 12 women were ready to begin. Drawings and muslin “canvases” were placed on the walls or foam boards. We all began the process of searching for just the right fabrics, cutting, snipping, pinning, gluing, changing our minds, reworking, redoing, seeking input, second guessing, having angst and aha moments and fun. It was intensive in the best way – that way in which there are no other distractions or responsibilities to derail your creative process. We broke for delicious meals prepared by Chris, walked to the pottery barn next door or 2 blocks into the tiny town, and took time to get to know a little about each other.

At the end of the 5 day class everyone had made impressive progress on their fabric collages. A couple of women had reached the point of readiness for quilting but most of us fell into the “solid start” category.

I chose to work from a photo I took 20 years ago of a neighbor girl. After nearly completing her arm on the first day I spent all of the rest of the class on her face and hair. Susan’s advice was to draw it right once and I guess I took that to heart concerning the collage – no need to rush. 😉


With the generous permission of the other women in class, I’m happy to share photos of their works as well, along with a few classroom shots. Enjoy!

Becky Schwartz chose one of Susan’s sun patterns to start with and then moved on to another unfinished design from a previous class. Two or three of the ladies had taken classes with Susan before.




Candace Winiarski


Cathleen McCoy







Check out the floor!
Standing from left: Susan, Barb, Betsy, Becky, Ellen, and Kerry. Seated: Heather, Lisa, Val, Nancy, Cathleen, Karen, and Candace.

A great class completed – now here’s hoping it won’t be too long before my quilt is too. 🙂


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