Cathleen is the owner/designer of Quiloha, a company dedicated to “Spreading Aloha one quillo at a time.” Quillos are unique one-of-a-kind personal quilts that showcase Hawaiian, Asian and batik fabrics. Cathleen’s art is influenced by her love of decoupage, a practical art that she learned from her grandmother.
A former teacher and technologist, Cathleen is now in her third chapter where she works as a Creative Advisor for Apple, is a certified Jin Shin Practitioner and seeks to change the world one thread at a time.
Carrie: What is your earliest creative memory?
My earliest creative memory was making mud pies in the back yard with my friends when I was about 4 years old. My mom always had us make our own Christmas gifts. My favorite gift was making a candle with ice and wax in a milk carton. After it set, we could decorate it with glitter and bows.
It was my grandmother, however, who stoked my creative passion. She and I would sit for hours making decoupage Christmas ornaments. These were kits that included a satin ball with rhinestones, sequins and gold paper and directions for exotic designs. It required ALOT of patience for a young girl. I still have a collection of these ornaments today!
Carrie: What is a quillo? How did you discover your passion for quillos?
Quillos are handmade, comforting quilts that fold into pillows. A quillo is a quilt. A quillo is a pillow. I first saw a quillo when my neighbor and friend Yvonne made one for my husband’s birthday. My entire family immediately wanted one.
When I approached Yvonne about buying some to give as gifts, she declined, but told me she would teach me how to make one. I started making quillos and I couldn’t stop. I was addicted to fabric!! I realized I had an innate ability to combine complementary fabrics. This allowed me to focus my creativity in a practical art. The feedback I received from people who received my quillos encouraged me to start Quiloha.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
Currently we are living in Hawaii in a rented home that doesn’t have room for a studio. My workspace is the dining room table. Typically I create and sew on my three days off from my “Day Job.” I am very organized and have all my creative materials in boxes and baskets that I can put behind a Shoji Screen when I am not working. I love to spread out my current project ideas to stoke my creative mojo!
Carrie: Describe your habits or rituals around “making.”
Because of my limited Maker Space, I always create a ritual around my creative process. I put a tablecloth down and begin to assemble my materials. Usually I will light a candle. I pick a good music station on Pandora to set the tone.
Often times, I take a picture of all the assembled items to provide inspiration for the work ahead. I also use the images to post on Social Media to share my work with my community.
Carrie: What do you hope people take from your work?
Quiloha was born out of a desire to ‘practice creativity’ in my life. It offered me a vehicle to express myself through fabric. Quiloha grew as I began to send quillos to friends who were undergoing tremendous pain and tragedy in their lives.
I wanted to offer comfort, connection and beauty by sending them a ‘Maui Medicine Blanket.’ My work is best summed up by the words of one of my customers…”From start to finish, you have made this such a personal, creative and caring experience.”
Carrie: How do your interests outside of art fuel your artwork?
Are there interests outside of art? I believe in the daily practice of creativity. Because of my busy schedule, it is important to focus on things that are important to me. These include my Relationships, Quiloha, the practice of Yoga, and a Healthy lifestyle.
The creation of a quillo is a meditation for me where I can connect with the Muse of Creativity. My art is part of my spiritual quest to provide balance and harmony in my life and the world around me.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
I am blessed to live in Hawaii and am constantly inspired by surroundings. When I feel stuck, I change gears, whether going for a swim in the ocean, taking a hike in a tropical rainforest, or practicing yoga in a serene environment. I literally wash my mind clear and start again.
Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?
I’ve alway been creative in some form or another, but never considered myself as an artist. When I started making quillos, something opened inside of me. I was like a kid in a candy store. When I look into the sea of fabric in front of me, I see a canvas of colors for my quillos. When I make art, I feel alive. I realized the I.Am.An.Artist. I have started to explore other forms of art making to increase my creative confidence.
Carrie: You were a recent member of my community The Circle. Can you describe one or two benefits you experienced from being part of the program?
Being a member of The Circle Community offered a safe and secure environment to share my art and designs with like minded artists who provided encouragement and feedback. The ‘embrace’ of The Circle invited me to “show up everyday” for my art.
I developed a discipline and a routine that enabled me to not only make room for art in my life, but to make art in my life a priority. Carrie outlines a process and provides tools that enable you to move forward with your art, whatever your goals may be.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
I’m not sure I couldn’t live without Pinterest, but it certainly makes my creative process easier. I collect and curate artistic and fabric inspiration that not only fuels my creative fire, but is a catalog at my fingertips. I also use my personal digital photo library to archive my work and my inspiration.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
My grandmother was the one who inspired me to pursue creativity. She was always making things. When my own grandchildren come to visit, their first question is, “What are we going to make today?”
Mother Nature has always been my inspiration. From the majestic to the mundane, you can always find beauty in Nature.
Carrie: What does the word artist mean to you?
Quillos are my palettes. I use fabric to transform the beauty around me into a practical art. Being an artist is about transformation. Art is an organic process between you and the outside world. As an artist, I transform this creative energy into each quillo I sew in order to share with others.
“My wish for you is that these insights may ignite your own creative gifts, fanning them into a blazing conflagration of authentic transformation; that there will be no turning back for you once you hear the thundering voices of spirit…that you will discover with unshakable conviction that you have an indispensable thread of awareness to weave into the fabric of this world; and that your guiding lights will show you the way to grow gracefully into who you already are.” (The Widening Stream, David Ulrich)
Additional Contact Info:
Get the Inside Scoop
Be the First to Know when The Circle Opens
The Circle opens for enrollment every November.
Sign up here to be the first to learn about special bonuses (like early bird pricing or the bonus Podcasts while Painting) and other sign up offers.
(Enjoy this free benefit when you sign up for Artist Strong's weekly newsletter.)
We honor your privacy - read more here.