UNT alumna stitches artistic quilts at Isle of Skye Studios

UNT alumna stitches artistic quilts at Isle of Skye Studios

UNT alumna stitches artistic quilts at Isle of Skye Studios
October 05
10:00 2018

For Skye Rayburn, putting in blood, sweat and tears is simply part of the process.

Construction, cutting, pressing and stitching are key elements that go into the quilts, totes and wall art she produces as the creator of Isle of Skye Studio. In her hands, they go from fabric to masterpiece.

Rayburn, a UNT alumna, decided to put her love of textiles to action and made her first quilt in 2011 using one of artist Sonia Delauney’s color studies as inspiration. Rayburn picked it back up in 2015 and began Isle of Skye Studio the following year.

“I started it as something to do with my hands while I was working at my corporate job, which was at JCPenney in Plano, because all I did there was work on the computer making graphics for T-shirts and prints for garments,” Rayburn said. “I eventually left in 2016 and started doing [Isle of Skye] full time.”

The time frame for how long a quilt will take varies widely, from a few weeks to a few months — depending on the method of stitching that is used — but Rayburn enjoys the complexities of the task.

“I started preferring hand quilting [over] machine quilting just because it’s a process,” Rayburn said. “You’re just kind of sitting there with your thoughts. It’s very methodical — it’s very meditative.”

The primary stage of making a quilt is the part Rayburn enjoys the most.

“Choosing the fabrics and colors and arranging them on my design wall in a pleasing composition is fun but challenging,” Rayburn said. “That portion of quilt making typically takes the longest time. When it comes to the hand quilting portion, that process is more relaxing and easy on the mind. I can just let the stitches go where they want to go.”

Rayburn prefers to use natural fibers like linen and muslin in her creations because they have a better feel and are not hot to the touch like other fibers.

“I’ve always called myself a fiber snob,” Rayburn said. “I feel like I can smell acrylic [fiber] from a mile away. I’ll be going down the escalator in a department store and I’ll see a sweater that I like the style of, and then I’m like, ‘Ew, it’s acrylic.’”

As a fan of textural fibers, denim is one that she particularly enjoys using.

“Everybody loves denim, [and] everybody has a pair of jeans they wear,” Rayburn said. “It’s just a classic American fiber. I like using denim that has been worn and then used on quilts because you’ll start seeing how all the different shapes I’ve cut out of denim fade and have a different depth to [them].”

The intricate stitch work that is involved, paired with the geometric patterns she uses, make Rayburn’s quilts easily double as art pieces, which is something she strives for.

“Eventually I would like to just make art quilts that people will hopefully have in their homes,” Rayburn said. “I am totally fine with them being double-duty because I want them to be functional as well, so that is why I like to put little pockets in my quilts because you can hang them on the wall, but if you ever want to use them you can.”

During her time at UNT, Rayburn started out as a double major in fashion design and fibers but dropped fibers to focus on fashion design after finding it difficult to juggle projects for both majors. The fashion design taught her what she feels is a very valuable skill: how to construct a garment.

Skye Rayburn displays and arranges her handcrafted creations. Rayburn sells quilts, bags, art and cushions through her Isle of Skye Studio website. Rachel Walters

“I was thinking fashion would make more sense to get a degree in so I could get a job, and it did make more sense,” Rayburn said. “I don’t know what I would have gotten with a fibers degree, but fibers was maybe a little more fun just because I loved surface design.”

Though her time as a fibers major was brief, Rayburn still believes the fibers program, which has recently been shut down at the university, is a significant part of fashion.

“I definitely think it is necessary,” Rayburn said. “It’s another outlet in the art program — it’s another medium. I think fibers is important and unfortunately, the art community [is] on the bottom tier compared to painting. I think they should think about some way of incorporating it into the fashion program because you can’t have fashion without fibers.”

With her experience and education in the art, Rayburn has met a wide range of people in the community.

Lora O’Shaughnessy, a friend of Rayburn’s and owner of Egan Street Designs, met Rayburn in summer 2017 when they brought their work to the same market.

“I had seen her work before — one of my friends mentioned her work on Instagram, so I started following her,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Her work is so beautiful. I love the color palette she uses.”

Kara Herman, an embroiderer and another friend of Rayburn’s, respects the precision in Rayburn’s quilt making and the Japanese style of embroidery she does.

“The cool thing about her stuff is [that] I feel like nobody else in Texas really does that [embroidery],” Herman said. “It was something completely different than what I’ve always done.”

Herman said she enjoys being able to watch Rayburn work and admires what she does through the lens of a fellow embroiderer.

“She puts so much time and effort into her work,” Herman said. “She also dyes her own fabrics. I feel like everything she makes is just amazing, [and] I always want to buy it. I make stuff myself, but I’m like, ‘I’d rather just buy your stuff because it’s so cool.’”

Rayburn also recently participated in a market for the Women’s Conference in Argyle, a new experience for her.

To Rayburn, quilting requires time and investment, from designing the quilt down to binding off and labeling it when it is finished.

“I think people outside the world of quilting, and the fibers world in general, don’t understand how much work goes into creating a piece,” Rayburn said. “I think a lot of people take for granted the craftsmanship that goes into quiltmaking when anyone can go to Walmart and buy one for $19.97.”

Featured Image: Skye Rayburn is the owner and operator of Isle of Skye Studio in Denton, Texas. Rayburn sells quilted home goods and accessories through her website. Rachel Walters

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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