We had the good fortune of connecting with Mel Beach and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mel, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
While I don’t consider myself a big risk taker, looking back at my art career, I see a pattern of taking risks to stretch as both an artist a professional.

The first risk was making the leap from making quilts as a hobby/form of stress relief to pursuing teaching quilting professionally! Leading a mini class for my guild sparked such joy in both my students and myself! A few weeks later, another guild invited me to fly out to present a lecture/trunk show. These two experiences gave me the confidence to launch my business focused on quilt lecturing and teaching, which continues to grow year after year.

As an artist, I enjoy stretching my creativity through active participation in quilt challenges (100+ finishes over the past 8 years!), especially through Project Quilting where you have 1 week to start and finish a quilt based on the weekly challenge theme. These challenges may sound intense, but having completed more than 40 of these one-week challenges, I love how they push my creativity into exciting new directions, make for a fun collection of quilt finishes, and have inspired 5 new quilting workshops along with a lecture entitled “Challenge Yourself!” where I promote the benefits of participation in quilt challenges.

Another professional stretch opportunity was enrolling in Comedy Improv classes to help me gain confidence presenting to large audiences. The classes and group performances helped me to think fast on my feet and to recover quickly from making mistakes. These skills translate well into my quilt design process, lecturing, and teaching, while adding a bit of fun factor. I’ve gone on to write an article and present a mini workshop encouraging other artists to enroll in Comedy Improv classes as part of their professional development!

I suspect these experiences helped me to embrace virtual teaching so early into the Covid Pandemic. I watched a few trainings on how to host Zoom meetings and practiced by hosting meetings for my small quilt group and guild. As word spread, other guilds and teachers were reaching out to ask for my advice. I led several training sessions for guilds and teachers throughout Northern California, and later joined the Global Quilt Connection leadership team to help provide resources to keep quilters active and thriving in a virtual world. These virtual experiences and connections have propelled my teaching reach to guilds across the United States and beyond to include Canada, Dubai, Israel, and Oman. Of course, I had to create a quilt to celebrate all the colorful personalities I’ve connected with via Zoom over the past 2+ years!

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My goal is to inspire others while having FUN! As such, my lectures, workshops, blog posts, and newsletters are all designed to provide a boost of FUN and Inspiration.

I am honored to join others on their artist journeys as I absolutely love to empower them with new techniques and inspire them with new design possibilities! In my workshops, I pack in lots of examples, tips, and tricks, along with plenty of encouragement to add their own artistic style. It is such a joy to receive photos from past students via email and social media of their beautifully finished projects started in one of my workshops! And of course, even better is seeing familiar faces return for more quilting fun and inspiration!

Play is routinely incorporated into both my own creative practice, as well as my teaching. Over the years I’ve stitched UNO cards into my quilts, used Lego bricks to print, and rolled the dice to explore all new design possibilities in my 100-Day Projects, and I actively encourage my students to incorporate a bit of play into their own creative day!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
While there is lots to see and do in San Jose, CA–it is a short drive to the Pacific Ocean, Redwood Forests, Wine Tasting, and so much more! One of my favorite getaway destinations is a short drive up to a beautiful Sierra Vista for a panoramic view of the entire Bay Area. It’s a beautiful escape from the city life as you can watch planes land at San Jose airport and Moffett Field, see the colorful evaporation ponds, various parks/stadiums, and mountain ranges off in the distance!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Many thanks to my family for all their support and encouragement to pursue this creative path. And a special thanks to all my teachers and mentors for being so generous in sharing their quilting expertise, which has inspired my own creative path!

Website: www.melbeachquilts.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melbeachquilts

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/melbeachquilts

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/MelBeachQuilts

Other: Blog: https://pieceloveandhappiness.blogspot.com/

Image Credits
MBeach_100 Day of Mark Making on Fabric Photo taken by Doug Osterhout (permission to use) MBeach_Quilt Demo photo taken by John Palmer (permission to use)

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