Member Spotlight: Fabiana Giandoso

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I believe quilting should be democratic, stated Fabiana Giandoso, a São Paulo-based quilter. Here, quilting was for the rich. Giandoso began quilting after she had her first child. She had been a violinist in an orchestra, but becoming a maker was a better fit for what she calls the second half of her life. She wanted to start making fabric bags, baby carriers, and other items in order to create a bright, colorful home for her family. My sister had craft magazines for embroidery, sewing, and quilting, so I started crafting with what I had, recalled Giandoso. It wasn't until she began taking quilting classes that she learned about the crafting politics in Brazil. In her classes, the instructors encouraged their students to achieve perfection, create from the colors of the United States national flag, and take a formulaic approach to creativity. I hated it, confessed Giandoso. The language was constraining, and I wanted to express my feelings and identity. She wanted to look into the future of design, so instead of continuing with the traditional classes, she turned to the internet and modern art.


Quilt Designed and made my Giandoso in 2020.
 

For many years, Giandoso worked in isolation. In Brazil, I'm disliked because of my style. When she goes to quilting fairs in Brazil to pick up fabrics or to display her work, other women tend to snicker or judge her style because she does not abide by the rules. What American or European quilters are free to do in excess, Brazilian quilters do as a revolution. I am poor, shared Giandoso. I was born in a poor area in São Paulo, and I am not afraid to break the rules and find my own way. Her quilts give her a voice in a country where the community might otherwise silence her. Still, she hopes to bring others along with her, to provide them with the same freedom. In Brazil, most quilters make beautiful quilts, but can only sell them for cheap. It’s important to place value on your work so that others respect it. Yet, with the economy as it is, and the need for artists to survive, most quilters are left with no other choice.


A Block of the Month quilt Giandoso made in 2020.

 

On social media, Giandoso considers her long captions to be a call towards freedom. She tries to convey to other Brazilians the power of creating using colors from their tropical country, the sun, the petals of flowers, and all the ingredients of their delicious food. She shares the joy she feels in creating from her soul. The first thing I tell my students now is to see fabrics like ink, explained Giandoso. With this mindset, I notice that the quality of sewing improves, the fabric selection improves, and the students respect their work as an extension of themselves. She notices a spiritual transformation in her students. The majority of them come into the workspace without confidence, but after telling their stories through their work—they stand taller.


Giandoso in front of one of her quilts.

 

Giandoso teaches her students modern art from the avant-garde movement of Bauhaus. Artists who work in this style produce abstract lines, bold typography, and bright blocks of color. I use this as a starting reference to instill the value of freedom to experiment. In 2012, Giandoso with a quilter friend started a local guild in São Paulo. After this, everything changed. There were suddenly more classes and more opportunities for experimental quilters like Giandoso, who had worked in solitude for so long. This gave her the ability to gain an audience, begin teaching classes on color theory, and receive support through crowdsourcing platforms like Patreon.


Members at a meeting of the São Paulo MQG in March of 2019.

 

Coffee is my answer to everything, jokes Giandoso. With a busy schedule, five children, and a loving husband, things can get complicated quickly. Even though my studio looks a mess right now, I do prefer organization. She keeps a planner that includes weekly goals with tasks like videos that need to be uploaded, the projects she needs to share with her Patreon subscribers, and her family's needs. I believe in routines and deadlines, insists Giandoso. I make plans that are attainable, and then I welcome my children into my studio—to read their books, play their instruments, or draw their own creations—my studio is a place for family.


Quilt blocks on Giandoso's design wall. 

 

Giandoso lives by the words, “freedom of expression.” Her children's doodles live on the walls of their home. Even after all the criticism she has received for self-expression, Giandoso has stayed true to why she started quilting. The most important thing to her is—that she is there with her children—to play a game on their Playstation console, read a book, or even just watch a movie.