I have always been drawn to ancient stones, and their landscapes. My great grandmother came to the U.S. from Ireland in 1888, and my initial visit to Ireland in 1991 affirmed a deep connection with both rural Irish landscapes and their many nearly forgotten stones and ruins.

It was while planning a second visit to Ireland that I first saw a picture of the Piper Stones, a stone circle in Co. Wicklow, that sent shivers through me. I immediately sought them out when I returned. These stones – and later, many others – “talk to me”, and I’ve focused ever since on finding and visiting new stones and using my art to try to convey the essence of these continuing communications. I have since come to similarly revere more recent monastic ruins (especially portals and passageways).

Denise-at-Kilclooney-Dolmen-Web-720
Denise with the Kilclooney Dolmen, Co. Donegal, Ireland


My quilts often invoke strong feelings and emotions; several have been purchased as meditation tools, as catalysts for focusing and healing. They seem to touch on a number of universal (though oftentimes forgotten or diminished) themes: belonging, permanence and continuity, stability, and the enduring importance of family and clan. My stonescape portfolio now exceeds 40 quilts, and I hope there is no end in sight.


I grew up loving to sew, and loving to work with fabric, and I turned that love into a business as an adult. Working as a professional seamstress, though, only heightened my longing to meld my sewing “craftsmanship” with greater levels of creativity.


When I discovered and decided to pursue art quilting (early 1990's), I had little background or formal training in art. I thus developed and followed a deliberate plan to acquire “the basics”. Before I produced my first art quilt, I took not only "how to" quilting classes, but also specifically selected design and art classes – drawing, painting, composition, color, perspective, shadowing, and the like.

I also sought out and joined a very supportive, insightful, multi-discipline, and mentoring artist critique group; they have had (and continue to have) a huge positive influence on both me and my art.


At the same time, I was very lucky to have an incredible local contemporary quilt guild (300 members) here in Northern Colorado, where I was both warmly welcomed – even as a relative novice and newcomer – and where I was able to meet and take additional classes from many very accomplished local and visiting art quilters.

Denise Working on Wall


My quilting style began to take root. Stones and ruins became my passion, my approach to quilting gained focus, and my love of fabric continued to grow.

I use a wide variety of colors, fabrics, threads, and yarns in my work, and then construct the actual quilt the same way as a stone mason builds a wall: individually sizing and cutting out, piecing, and appliquéing each stone, one by one, working from the bottom up – each stone a foundation for the others that it supports or neighbors.

I hand paint almost all my fabric (from which – as described above – I then individually cut out each stone). The
realistic color and texture of my stones is achieved by using multiple layers of sun-reactive transparent Seta color paints, plus various resists, in combination with (while wet) the aggressive folding, twisting, wrapping, bunching or pleating of the fabric, and (while drying) the application of sand, different types of salt crystals, sugar, dirt, and the like – basically, doing or using most anything that can influence or cause differential paint absorption, diffusion, or mottling.

In contrast to the realism of the stones, my skies and landscapes – which are central to the context of place and the timelessness of these sacred sites – are far more abstract. I use a relatively unique
free-form stripping technique for my landscapes (and, often, my skies), integrating thin horizontal pieces of (my hand painted) fabric, trims, and twisted yarns into a story-telling abstract of colors and textures.

Quilts are then finished by (oftentimes heavy) machine stitching – and, occasionally, with a bit of additional quilt top touch-up painting – to add even more texture and shadowing.