Quilter Janice Mitchell was born in Texas, and grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In junior high and high school, she took home economic courses where she was taught to sew clothes. She loved the possibilities of creating and decorating with fabrics far beyond dressmaking. In 1988 she moved to Mississippi to attend college and lived with her grandmother in Clarksdale, where Mitchell currently resides.
Collecting all things craft related, Mitchell’s favorite material to work with is fabric. In searching for a craft to pursue, she was inspired by the tiles on her kitchen floor to make a simple quilt. She checked out as many books as she could find at the local library on quilting and design and then started sewing several quilt tops by hand. People who saw her sewing would tell her stories about old fashioned quilting bees and other quilters. Mitchell was able to enhance her skill set, when she began to meet other experienced quilters throughout her community who taught her techniques and patterns.
Mitchell is grateful to God for giving her purpose through quilting. She says it gives her the opportunity to serve others, teach a traditional art form and continuously develop her craft. Mitchell finds inspiration from children’s books, quilt magazines and coloring books. She is also inspired by her students at Sherard Baptist Church and her mentors from the quilting groups, Southern Sisters Quilting and Mississippi Rhythm and Remnant Quilts. Speaking of their mentorship, Janice states, “These groups held generations of wisdom about being patient, working with your hands and helping others.”
Mitchell has experience creating quilts completely by hand, but typically machine pieces and hand stitches each quilt. She also incorporates applique, embroidery and other embellishments to the face of the quilts. She repairs quilts and also repurposes antique quilts into smaller keepsake items. When she first started, Mitchell was creating twin and full sized quilts meant to be used as bed covers. As she progressed, she attempted more advanced patterns and now enjoys making pieces of her own designs as well as art quilts and memory quilts. She sells her work online and regularly makes quilts from personal requests and commissions. During the COVID 19 pandemic, she has made face masks.
One of Mitchell`s greatest joys is teaching. She taught her son to piece and hand quilt when he was 9 years old, and then began teaching friends at her church community. She also enjoys teaching young quilters. The positive response she received from teaching a group of children at Sherard Baptist Church encouraged Mitchell to continue sharing her craft with others. Now, she teaches anyone who is interested through private lessons and encourages people to nurture their creativity. As a primarily self-taught quilter, who learned many techniques from books, Mitchell embraces her personal techniques that work well for her, but not be considered “technically correct.” She finds quilting incredibly calming and meditative, and while quilting has become increasingly popular and elaborate, Mitchell emphasizes that it can be very easy to learn.
Janice Mitchell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org