At first glance, you see a woman quietly sewing after a long day. But take a closer look, and you'll see purpose and a journey in every stitch. To know Verna Mosquera is to recognize that quilting is as much a part of her as her warm brown eyes. When she was pregnant with her first child, the bright colors and playful appliqué portrayed all the anticipation and emotions her words just could not express. To this day, unwilling to wait to get home to take her new fabric purchases out of the shopping bag, she lays them across the dashboard of her car and immerses herself - knowing the quilts they will become, will be nothing less than a portrait of who she is in that moment.
While her creative escapes typically now occur in her Danville , Calif., studio during the quiet hours before daybreak, her search for the art form which quickly became an extension of who she is took her down several artistic paths to quite a few far off destinations.
Verna was the little girl painting portraits of her stuffed animals and sewing treasures for her grade school girlfriends. At 16-years-old, she started college at California State University, Hayward. When other students were happily pursuing degrees in accounting or liberal arts, Verna was unsettled. She wanted to fuse business and imagination and finally did just that by convincing faculty to allow her to create a special major in "marketing the arts."
As a young adult, Verna's exploration intensified. She studied Embroidery, Japanese Papermaking and Artist Books. Then, in artist Enrique Chagoya, she found not only a Printmaking instructor but a mentor whose encouragement bolstered her confidence and challenged her to pursue more adventurous artistic travels.
At age 25, she packed up her life and moved to her father's homeland of Montevideo, Uruguay. She had visited the country as a child and teenager and always felt a deep connection with its beautiful sandy beaches and unassuming people. In Uruguay, she mastered Spanish and worked as a conversational English teacher. She learned serigraphy, a form of silk screening, and her aunts taught her to knit while sharing stories of her family's history. But, by far, the most important event to occur for Verna in Uruguay was falling in love with her husband Miguel.
In Miguel, Verna found a man who shared her love of culture and art. Together they traveled Europe and spent eight months in Florence, Italy, where her creativity flourished. She discovered an artisan program where she was able to spend several hours per week in the private studios of many local artists. She studied Florentine Papermaking, Bookbinding and Ceramics.
While invigorating and exciting, these wanderlust years made Verna miss her family tremendously, so in 1996 she and Miguel married and relocated to California. She quickly found a marketing job, but soon felt her creativity was stifled and resolved to find a more artistic outlet.
In 1996, on a whim, she signed up for a 12-week quilting class at a shop just 45 minutes from her hometown. After just one class, she said, "I have finally come home." All that travel, and her destination was right where she had started!
Verna quickly made her mark. After just one year of quilting, the owners of the shop asked Verna to work in the store and teach a class. She jumped at the opportunity and continued to take classes to perfect her skills while learning more about the business side of the industry by working in the shop.
During that time, she took a life-changing class taught by Robyn Pandolph. Before beginning the class, Robyn asked the students to draw their own design on the back of her pattern sheet, and the rest is history. Verna never finished the design taught in that class, nor did she ever work on someone else's design again. She has taught everything from beginning quilt making to more advanced piecing techniques and now mainly appliqué.
Verna's appliqué technique is industry-renowned and is just one of the special features of her vintage, romantic designs that make them unique, current and instantly recognizable as hers. When her students started telling her that her patterns were enabling them to create timeless family heirlooms, she decided to expand her reach beyond the classroom.
In 2004, Verna's creativity, eye for color, attention to detail, background in marketing and entrepreneurial spirit created the perfect storm which compelled her to launch her own business, The Vintage Spool. In just three years, The Vintage Spool's designs have earned international acclaim, and the company currently distributes over 25 designs worldwide. Verna's talent recently captured the attention of Donna Wilder, previous owner of FreeSpirit (now owned by Westminster Fibers), who signed on Verna to design her own line of fabric which will debut this Fall. These are all certainly impressive accomplishments, especially considering Verna has achieved this level of business success without sacrificing her commitment to "stay home" to raise her two young sons, Milo, 5, and Nico, 2.
Verna's recent endeavors prove that even in finding "home," she is definitely not sitting still. Fashion Designer Paul Smith once said, "You can find inspiration in everything (and, if you can't, look again)." In that same spirit Verna Mosquera is sure to bestow upon the world many more inspiring creations.