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Bill Stearman has discovered the power of quilting FIONA CAMPBELL QUINTE ARTS COUNCIL For our most recent Umbrella magazine, the Quinte Arts Council dedicated the winter issue to celebrating the Art of Craft and how the lines between the two often blur in innovative and exciting ways. We profiled 12 Quinte-based craftspeople who express their art through their craft; the ninth in this series is Bill Stearman in Picton. Bill Stearman struggled with storytelling as a way to make sense of his life for many years. And then he discovered his voice in quilt making. In March of 2014, he had a serious leg injury that left him in significant pain and medication that “killed his brain.” So he threw away the pain meds and sought another solution. “I have no idea where the notion came from, but I decided to try quilt making as a way to deal with the pain. I bought a $100 sewing machine, ordered some fabric online, found a few YouTube videos, and started to make a quilt,” says Stearman. “What I qui
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‘The Part Where I Tell a Story That Used to be a Secret’ … Wind & Water Writing Contest Entry … and now a quilt

This quilt is a response to a story that I used to keep secret … and a QR Code that will take you to the YouTube video by Choir! Choir! Choir! And Milck. This recording of the song, ‘Quiet’, gave me the courage to tell my story. The story below was shortlisted as one of five finalists in the Wind & Water Writing Contest (Fiction/Non-fiction). The Part Where I Tell a Story That Used to be a Secret The summer before I started Grade Six my mother finally agreed to let me take bagpipe lessons.  I’d wanted to do that for a long time, but my father said that I’d just lose interest and it would be yet another thing that I started and didn’t stick with. I was sure that he was wrong.   I loved the sound of bagpipes, and I had a fascination with men wearing kilts. I imagined that wearing a kilt felt much like it did to wear my sister’s skirts when we played dress up; all elegant and swishing around my legs as I walked. And, I could wear a kilt for real; not just for dress up. So, on Tuesday

It’s Not About Their Bits

  Here I am, all set up and ready to greet people at the Wellington Farmers’ Market.  This was week one and it was such a great time! I can’t say enough good thing about the men who own The Eddie Hotel and Farm!  They are young, energetic, capable, kind and positive.  They were everywhere, offering help with set up and tear down, and checking to see if folks needed them to watch their stall while they had a washroom break. Between them, and Naz Karsan, who is the manager for Wellington Farmer’s Market, no detail went unattended. There was ample parking and access to parking, and lots of room for the crowds that came. Everyone was just in such a great mood. And for me, the best part was getting to chat with so many folks about my work, but more importantly about gender and gender based stereotypes. It was a dream come true! I hope that I get to see many of you at the Market next week, and every Saturday morning, right through to October 29th! 15786 Loyalist Pkwy, here in beautiful Princ

The Men’s Show at Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

  These two quilts arrived home over the weekend.  They were juried into the biennial Quilts By Men Show at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, in Golden Colorado and spent a few months there. That’s always one of my favourite shows and I’ve had at least one quilt in each show since I started quilt making. But as much as I like to get quilts into shows, I am always so glad when they arrive home safely.  ‘Reclaiming Pride: A Gay Bedspread’ and ‘His Name is Clarence’ will be displayed somehow for a bit before I tuck them away on a shelf. It’s all good.

Just Another January

Like every January, once I finished what I had in progress, I sat, in depression, having lost every bit of creative moxie that I had.  And like every other January, I looked for a mindless pattern or technique, and some bright coloured fabric so that I could climb back out of my depression. This year I chose a technique … ‘stack and whack’ … ‘one block wonder’ … it goes by many names. Basically, it just involves selecting a printed fabric and stacking six repeats of the fabric on top of each other. Precisely. The you just cut six exactly the same pieces of fabric to arrange into hexagons.   I added lots of solid hexagons to my version, using a Free Spirit solid in a cranberry-ish colour.  My Granddaughter, Anna, selected the colour.  Left to me, I’d have used black, which might not have lifted my funk!  The floral is a Kaffe Fassett design, from Westminster Fabrics. There is a large piece of what remained on the back of the quilt. I’m pretty happy with the end result  

Playing with the Log Cabin Block

  2021 It was a pretty strange year for most of the world, but I think it might have been a weirder year for me than for most others. This is my interpretation of the year. It is a bit under 36” wide.  The bright coloured fabric is my own hand dyes and the rest of the fabric is by Libs Elliott. Nothing Fits Anymore, But I’m Still Beautiful As I have aged (matured?) my body has ‘evolved’.  My clothes may not fit like they once did, but I remain … beautiful!! About 36” wide.  Background is white shweshwe from Meerkat Shweshwe.

Busy Hands

  Here's where I will be selling my fabric! I will also have some of my earlier quilts there for sale at VERY reduced prices. I'll try to post pictures of what I'll be selling later today, or tomorrow.

My Hand Dyed Fabrics!

I've been busy dyeing fabric!  The quilt top above is made entirely of hand dyed fabric created last week.  I'm still ironing it this week ... about 60 metres of it! Below, are three of the rinses sinks. I think I filled the three sinks four or five times! I'm loving the results though!  

Finding Comfort in Dying

At the moment, this is still a work in progress.  Today, it will go to my quilter, Deanna Gaudaur ( ). Soon it will come home and go through a regular cycle in the washing machine. It will fray and soften. Then, this quilt will tell the story that I want it to tell. In early January, I was diagnosed with Liver Cancer. At the time, the prognosis was pretty bleak because of my age, and talk centred around treatment to keep me comfortable and to extend my life for as long as possible.  Generally, the expectation was two to five years. My head and my heart went to some interesting places during the weeks that I ‘lived’ with this diagnosis. My emotions were wild, but my head and my heart calmed me and brought me comfort. I have crammed a lot into my seventy-one years.   For the most part it has all been good.   I have loved and been loved. Generously.  I have cared, and nurtured, and been kind and giving.   I have experienced that same goodness from others. In my life my f

A New Home for 'Surviving January'

  I recently sold my Surviving January quilt to the folks at the Eddie Hotel and Farm , here in Prince Edward County. This is it, hanging just inside the front door. I couldn't ask for a better home for it ... or a more stunning setting! It looks fabulous there!

MY NEW BACKPACK SHOW … ‘I Have Something to Say: speak your truth, even if your voice shakes’

  I am back to taking bookings for my Back Pack Show!! Yeah!! My Doctors have given me the go ahead, since there is no actual travelling involved.   So far, I have been booked for Halifax, NS … Lethbridge, AB … Orange County, California … and maybe Haliburton School of Art and Design (if it runs next summer). I’ve revamped my Back Pack Show and added many of my newer quilts.  After the year that I’ve had, my quilts more than ever, seem free to speak my truth … :-) I’d love to visit your Guild, Shop, or group! Cost is just $250 and you are free to invite as many paying guests as you'd like! Contact me at

Quilts=Art=Quilts 2021

I am beyond excited that this quilt, ‘Finding Comfort in the Unknown’ was one of 72 works, out of 328 entries, selected for the 2021 Quilts=Art=Quilts show at the Schweinfurh Art Center in Auburn, NY. You can find more information about this show here.

I Have Something to Say!

I am SO excited to be doing a version of my NEW BackPack Show as part of this event. Of course we will follow all Covid Protocols, but I’ll get to see you in person … and you’ll get to see and touch  quilts! Here’s hoping that at least a few of you are in the area and able to attend! 😊   

The Soulfood Art Event @ The Eddie

These quilts will be on exhibit, and for sale at this show.  

Canada Day 2021

*215 pieces of orange fabric  *Quilted using text from the United Nations definition of genocide, entered into force in 1951 “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with  intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as  such:  (a) Killing members of the group;  (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;  (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its  physical destruction in whole or in part;  (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;  (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”  

More Kind Words From Someone Who ‘Gets Me’

  I just LOVE the fact that these words came in a handwritten Thank You Note! The young woman who penned these words is a favourite of mine. She’s one of those young folk who help me believe that all is right with the world, because someday, this woman, and folks like her … will be in charge!

Finding Comfort In the Unknown … the finished piece

  I started piecing this quilt to keep my hands, my head, and my heart busy during the two weeks leading up to my Liver Transplant.  I was filled with so many thoughts, feelings, emotions, scenarios and I just decided that I needed to find a way to be rid of all of that, and to focus on finding comfort. This piece brought that comfort, and continues to fill me with comfort. It is non-conventionally pieced using traditional Japanese yarn dyed fabrics. I didn’t use traditional seamed piecing because I wanted the quilt to fray and soften and have the comfort of my oldest and softest blue jeans. While I was in surgery, my quilter, Deanna Gaudaur ( ) quilted it for me.   As soon as I got home I washed it, dried it, and then spent the night wrapped in its comfort. It is perfect.

A Needle Pulling Thread - Issue 56

 I am excited to have a quilt featured in A Needle Pulling Thread  again. This time it is in Brandy Maslowski’s column More Joy, Less Overwhelm. I first met Brandy when she interviewed me for her Quilter On Fire Podcast series.  She is a fabulous woman and a real asset to the quilting world. What I like best about her column though is her description of me as a quilt maker … ‘Bill Stearman is a Quiltmaker living in Picton, Ontario who turns a difficult conversation on its head, makes it into a quilt and tells a beautiful story.’ I LOVE that!  Someone who gets me. Thanks, Brandy!

Finding Comfort in the Unknown ... a work in progress, as I wait for my Liver Transplant Surgery

A New Photo of Me!

  Me.  Pretty happy.  Smiling in the sun. It's all good!

June: Comfort and Pride

June: Comfort In Pride  

Before I Made Quilts

Before I Made Quilts This quilt is a work in progress.  It is inspired by the Gee's Bend Quilts, and centres around some old blocks rescued from a water damaged quilt top made by my Grandmother over 60 years ago.  

You Can Never Really Go Home Again

You Can Never Really Go Home Again