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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Toni Whitney & Big Fork Cotton Bay Company at the International Quilt Festival Houston 2009

Prior to leaving for Houston,  I received a cold call from Tracy at the Bigfork Cotton Bay Company.  While on the phone with Tracy I pulled up their website. I said, "Ohhhhh."   I loved all the fun colors and interesting patterns and kits they have.  But what really hit me were the animal wall hangings done by Toni Whitney. Talk about hitting me right in my center....I lost my words.

While in Houston I had the privilege of meeting Tracy and Toni at the Bigfork Cotton Bay Company's Schoolhouse.

Meet Toni Whitney, painter, graphic artist and quilt artist from Montana.

Toni's lecture at Schoolhouse was interesting and fun.  I was glued to my seat with the biggest blows me away that someone can take fabric and thread and make an animal come to life. 

I took the following photos of the PowerPoint presentation given during Toni's lecture.

This is Toni's first painting.  Her father-in-law gave her four tubes of paint; red, yellow, blue and white and asked her to paint a picture of old car.   Toni turned those four tubes of paint into this incredible picture.  He like the picture so much he asked Toni to paint another picture. 

This is Toni's second painting.  Her mother-in-law liked it so much she snuck it out of the house to show in a gallery in Bigfork.  The gallery called Toni and asked her to do two more so they could sell them as a grouping.

I can only imagine how proud they must be of Toni and her artwork.  She has given herself permission to take amazing risks and I'm so glad she has.  There must be something amazing in Toni's spirit and something wonderful in her soul that allows her to create such beauty.

This is a photo of Toni's first art quilt.  She has been friends with Tracy (she works at The Bigfork Bay Cotton Company) for some time and one day she dropped by and saw Tracy making a fusible snowman wall hanging.  So she asked Tracy what she was doing and Tracy gave her a few pointers and some fabric.  Toni came back with the wall hanging pictured above.

A close-up of the wall hanging here....look into those eyes.

These photos were taken of the PowerPoint presentation during the Schoolhouse.

"Serengeti" is the name of this pattern.  Toni started with a pallet of various batiks and auditioned them.

Pieces of fabric are selected and cut out for each part of Toni's drawing. 

When a fabric doesn't work....she auditions other fabrics until she gets what she is looking for.

This is a photo of Toni working in her studio in Montana.  She said animals walk right past her window and she can stop to enjoy them.

Look at the end product after all the auditioning and piecing. This lion looks so majestic.

Toni spent her days at Market working in the Bigfork Cotton Bay Company booth.  I stopped by to visit and see some of her wall hangings "in person."

This is Toni's "Savanna" pattern.  Elephants are my favorite animal.  My dream is to go on Safari in Africa one day and see where these amazing and beautiful creatures walk free. 

You know the best part of these patterns?  They come in kits with all the fabrics (Batik Textiles) Toni used to make her wall hangings.    It might take someone like me years to find fabrics and get the courage to put it all together.  Not's all in there baby and IHAN is your connection :)  The kits are available for the other patterns from Bigfork Bay Cotton Company as well!!! 

I felt truly blessed to meet Toni and experience some of the gifts she has been given.

It has taken me two days to put this post together.  I have really struggled with my words and what photos to use.  I think that happens when I am moved in a place where words don't exist. 

Many people are talented and can draw and paint....and they paint beautiful things.  How is it that others are able to create a picture that has a life and spirit of its own?  These are not just pictures of animals....when I look at that elephant I can feel it.....its spirit....I feel reverence for its existence and beauty.  How does someone do that with paint, fabric and thread?  
Silent Smiles,


  1. Delightful article. I think your worlds are insightful and inspiring. While I don't have Toni's talent, I'm very impressed with hers "natural" talent and so happy she has pursued a career around it and shares her patterns and insights.

    These kits sound truly fantastic, as they look like they would help quilters make beautiful quilts with Toni's designs and color insights. As such, I'm happy to know that they are now available via IHAN.

    And what a perfect Christmas gift these kits would make too!


  2. Is this fusible raw-edge applique?

  3. That lady is just oozing with talent!!

  4. I can see why you were lost for words. There are not enough words in the human vocabulary to describe how truly awe inspiring her work is, this is the first time I have seen work like this, so thank you very much for sharing :0)
    *hugs* Heather x

  5. Elephants hold a very special piece of my heart. I was working at the Portland Oregon Zoo, when the 1st Elephant in captivity was born, Packy! What a beautiful baby boy, who grew into an AMAZING icon of Portland Oregon, and father of many more elephants through the world. TODAY, 2/9/2017, 54 years after his birth, Packy had to be put down because of TB. So terribly sad. MY QUESTION, is there an ELEPHANT Pattern by Toni Whitney available anywhere? PLEASE????


Thank you for reading the IHAN Blog. I love getting and reading every comment that is left here; however I may not be able to respond to all comments left during giveaways. There are times when I am juggling many tasks at one time and may not reply to all comments. Please e-mail me at if you need a reply quickly. I thank you for your understanding and-
More Later-Beth


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