You are in for a color treat featuring Tonye Belinda Phillips! Tonye lives in Camp Sherman, which is near Sisters. I have known Tonye for years and her work is always fascinating and full of joy. She is a favorite instructor at the Stitchin’ Post and not only a quilt maker, but an expert embroider with wool and applique’.
When I arrived at Tonye’s studio for our interview this is the first piece she had to share, a quilt for her beloved granddaughter who will turn one year old this fall. What a happy quilt!
When I asked Tonye the first word she thinks of when I say color it was “emotion” and the second word was “powerful”. You certainly see each of these in this charming applique’ quilt.
This is the extent of her fabric stash and she makes good use of it. She is a saver of scraps and the large log cabin blocks on the design wall came right out of her scrap bag. You see different widths of strips as well as different styles of fabric, but when Tonye spontaneously puts fabric together it seems to all work. She creates lots of pot holders, pin cushions, and little pieces of art for the annual Christmas Bazaar at the Camp Sherman Community Center. She tells me, that as she puts fabrics together relationships between them start speaking to her and this drives her work.
Tonye is inspired by other artists like Gwen Marsten, Andrea Bolasky, and Freddy Moran. When an idea hits her she loves to dive right in. Very seldom does she follow a pattern, but rather draws from classic blocks and contemporary art.
Lime green is a favorite color for Tonye as well as her husband Doug. Probably living in the forest as they do and seeing the lichen on the pine tree branches influences them. Tonye is known for whimsey in her work. Many of her pieces are print driven, but she feels that the colors used are equally important. As far as she is concerned anything can work if you like it!
Bright colors adorn her rustic cabin… the bright blue is just charming.
Many a time I have heard Tonye say to students in her classroom, “I have never met a dot I didn’t like!”
Garden Girls is one of her favorite quilts to teach, no two girls are alike. Freddy Moran influenced this quilt with her Phoebe original block. I could not resist taking a close up photograph showing the detail in the border print she choose. I realized she had mounted it on the twig fence that Tonye and Doug created with the same line work.
Seventeen years ago, Tonye, Betsy Mennison, Valori, and I worked on a round robin quilt and this is Tonye’s quilt. We began by each creating a center block. Then it was handed off to the next person along with a few favorite fabrics. It was a very fun project for the four of us. Valori was pregnant with her first child, Olivia Rose, at the time and she was born during the making of the fourth border.
Tonye's style reminds me of classic folk art. Although, Tonye has developed own look as you can see from these pieces.
The Phillips home and garden has the charm of a folk art wonderland - the colors, the simplicity, the charm. Doug even painted the garage doors in Tonye’s signature palette. Tonye’s mantra is “Do your own thing, be adventuresome!!!"
Kaffe Fassett’s colorful circle prints just say “Tonye” to me and she uses them often in her work. I thought they would be the perfect pencil pacs for you this month.