by Victoria Howell
Quilter Heidi Zielinski of Stevensville will be featured this fall on PBS’ Quilting Arts TV. This is an important opportunity for a quilt.
Zielinski said she returned to quilting as an art form in her adult life. “My mom was a quilter for many years,” Zielinski says. “I never got it until my mom sent me a sewing machine. I was married and living in Illinois. I started messing with it a bit.
But it wasn’t until I moved to Montana and had my son that I started quilting.”
Zielinski turned her art into a business in 2007, calling it Fiber Into Art by Heidi.
She describes her vibrant, mostly colorful quilt pieces as “abstract, nature-inspired wall hangings using fabric. They are heavily stitched, machine and hand stitched, usually with added beading.” Most of her pieces are small, averaging 18″ by 22″. All her work is personally inspired.
Zielinski shows her work at The Artists Shop in in downtown Missoula, and also at River’s Mist Gallery in Stevensville. She also currently participates in the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center. She regularly submits pieces to juried art and quilt shows, and is regularly accepted. Right now she has a few parts in a show in Virginia.
In February, she was contacted by Susan Brubaker Knapp of Quilting Arts TV, which has been airing on PBS since 2007. Brubaker Knapp asked Zielinski if she wanted to be on the show. “They shoot an entire season in one week,” Zielinski says. “They choose a lot of artists to be on the show, each artist usually does three segments. I submitted six and they picked four of them.” Zielinski will be in Series 2900 which will air in October. She is not sure when she will be on Montana PBS. She said that one of the segments may go to the next season.
The four segments featuring Zielinski are “Small Monochromatic Art Quilts,” “Strata Art Quilts” (long, narrow quilts made up of strips of fabric), “Stamping in Art Quilts” (using fabric paint and paper stamps to add images to pieces) and “Combining Free Motion Stitches and Hand Embroidery in Art Quilts.”
The same company also chose one of the segments for a quilting magazine it produces. The magazine, Quilting Arts, is the main magazine that quilters read; Zielinski says he’s been reading it for years.
“Both of those things can be very beneficial to me,” Zielinski says.
Interestingly, after Zielinski accepted the invitation to be filmed for the show, she went on vacation and when she returned, severe neck pain prompted her to have an MRI. She ended up seeing a neurosurgeon and eventually had surgery followed by a neck brace, all while preparing for the show. “It was very stressful,” Zielinski said, “worrying about time.”
On July 7, she had her follow-up appointment with the surgeon, who said everything was fine. The segments were filmed on July 20 in Golden, Colorado. Zielinski received a grant from the Montana Arts Council to help with travel expenses, plus a stipend from the company.
She said she met some of the other artists and stayed with a very well-known artist, Lea McComas, who has a piece that will be in the Clinton Library’s permanent collection.
She also met the producer of the show and the editor of the magazine, Vivika Hansen DeNegre.
“It was exciting,” Zielinski says. “They called us ‘talent’. I had to do my first manicure because there were a lot of close-ups of our hands during filming. Also make-up and air cleaning.”
If you’re interested in watching the segments, you can get video downloads or stream those episodes at quiltingdaily.com.
Zielinski has been involved with the Bitterroot Quilt Guild and Sapphire Quilt Guild, as well as Montana Bricolage Artists. She said that “bricolage basically means ‘stuff’ because we use all kinds of things in our art quilts.” She is also a member of a national organization, Studio Art Quilt Associates. She regularly teaches art clothing classes and can be found on Facebook at fiberintoartbyheidi and on Instagram at fiber_into_art.