I am Opal Cocke, and I am a 4th generation quilter. My mother, her mother, and her grandmother, in addition to my father’s mother and her mother were all quilters, making utilitarian quilts to keep their families warm. I am honored to have many of the quilts made by my family and my husband’s family in my collection. These women, who came before me, are my inspiration and I will forever be grateful for the love of fabric and textiles that they have gifted to me.
As a child, I can remember playing under the quilting frame on Wednesday mornings, the day the church ladies got together to make quilt tops and quilt to raise money for the church. I graduated to threading needles for the women who sat around the quilting frame. I learned to make doll clothes and later, clothes for myself. I made my first quilt many years later when my third daughter was born. It took me three years to complete and is completely hand stitched and quilted.
I continued to be active in quilt making while our children were growing. Then, returning to finish my degree and a teaching credential, I put my fabric aside, in a closet. However, I found ways to be creative in my classroom by combining math and art in many colorful hands-on projects.
After our retirement we moved to the Pacific Northwest, I am now surrounded by fabric, threads, and all that is of the textile world. Through the windows in my studio, I enjoy watching the woods, birds and other wildlife, and the colors of the changing seasons. I can watch the ebb and flow of the Saratoga Passage, the many passing boats, and the most incredible sunsets.
Our home is on Camano Island in Washington. I live with my husband, Roger, our dog, Cinda Lou Who, and precious Kitty Boy, who is my constant companion and critique in my studio. I am proud that my only granddaughter, at age 13, made her first quilt this summer. She will become the 5th generation quilter in our family… and the legacy will be passed on.
My fabric art has been exhibited in these places:
- La Conner Quilt Museum, Self Portrait Exhibit, Jan-Mar 2007
- Beads & Earthly Treasures, Ballard, WA
- Rexville Fine Art Show, Tulip Festival, April 2005, 2006, 2007
- Camano Island Quilt Guild Bi-Annual Quilt Show, 2005, 2007
- Stanwood Camano Fair, August 2005
These private collections have my work:
- Marcia Ellinger, Pasadena, CA
- Armando and Brenda Gonzalez, Glendale, CA
- Larry and Renee Miles, Camano Island, WA
- Jim and Barbara Sickler, Camano Island, WA
- Jeff and Jody Erickson, Camano Island, WA
- Megan Lynch, Portland, OR
- Bill and Sandy Sieber, Covina, CA
In my family, all the women quilted and were familiar with the sewing machine. I grew up with fabric, quilting frames, yarns, embroidery, and crochet all around me. My mother taught me everything…and I proudly knitted blankets and made layettes for my babies. As the years went by, I acquired quilts from both sides of our family. I have quilts made by three grandmothers and two great mothers.
Much later, after college and kids, I again was drawn to quilting. I started making very traditional quilts. I took classes wherever I could, and learned from some wonderfully gifted quilt artists. I gradually explored new techniques…and became fascinated with color and texture. I found I could adapt a traditional quilt pattern to my wonky sense of color and achieve a non-traditional traditional quilt. I love to combine unlikely colors and textures, add beading, and found objects in ways that create a surprise element for the viewer.
This year I have been working on my Quilt Journal…a journal of fabric art, where I make an 8.5″ x 10″ quilt each week. Artist’s Trading Cards (ATC’s) have been a way to combine all I love on a very small format, 2.5″ x 3″ (see both of these in the Other Projects section of My Work page). My love of color and texture has also led me into other areas such as collage, sketching, journaling, and watercolor painting.
I am inspired every day by the beauty of the place where I live, the Pacific Northwest. Being a city girl all my life, I am finding endless delight and inspiration in the birds, ocean life, boats, flowers, trees and mountains that surround our home on Camano Island in the Puget Sound. And yes, I do love the rain, because it is a reason to stay inside and create.