David Taylor always has been fascinated by fabrics, but it took a chance friendship to turn that obsession with material into a lucrative career and international fame.
In the world of art quilting, the stars don’t get much brighter than David, a Steamboat Springs resident who in 2006 won the Fairfield Master Award for Contemporary Quilting from the International Quilt Association.
Never heard of art quilting? Neither had David until he met and befriended Madeleine Vail in Florida in the 1980s. At her urging, he eventually followed Vail to Steamboat Springs. It was also Vail’s suggestion that David take up quilting.
“Madeleine told me, ‘I just know this is what you need to be doing,’” David recalls. “I always thought quilting was just sewing little squares together. That doesn’t appeal to me.”
They worked together on his first quilt, and David said he was “like a duck to water.”
Art quilting essentially is making pictures out of fabric. The color of the thread and pattern in which it’s stitched add texture and depth to each work.
A thoughtful look at any of David’s quilts on exhibit this summer in the Steamboat Art Museum reveals the delicate skill and touch he brings to his craft.
That skill has led to a full-time career as a quilt teacher and speaker. David is the first to admit that his journey has been an unlikely one. He was one of six kids raised in a Navy family, which meant he lived for stints in Rhode Island, Mississippi, Virginia, Florida and New Hampshire as a child. He eventually attended the University of South Florida to major in theater.
His love of fabric was born early, the result of a mother who sewed most of her children’s clothes. While in Florida, he picked up work in a fabric store and met Vail, who was his boss.
After moving to Steamboat in 1992, David spent 10 years as a graphic designer with the Steamboat Pilot & Today, winning dozens of awards for his work. But when his passion and talent for quilting was realized, David knew he had to pursue it. And when he won the Fairfield Master Award in 2006 for his quilt “Sally at the Window,” the phone calls started coming. And they haven’t stopped.
Now, the man who used to ride a road bike 25 miles a day — he’s a four-time veteran of Ride the Rockies — and ski all winter long, hardly has time for anything but teaching and speaking engagements.
“Every day, I can’t believe this is my life,” he says. “I can’t believe this is what I do.
“I’m just a goober who lives in a basement, and I make quilts because I like it.”