Stitch Perfect

Porterdale-based weaver and quilter Candace Hassen draws inspiration for her unique designs in nature, paintings and other artistic mediums.

by Terri Webster

Brilliant color defines her world. 

Professional weaver and quilter Candace Hassen considers it the foundation for every quilt she designs, and she credits the approach to her 35 years of weaving experience. Color provides the bridge between the two disciplines. 

Hassen was born in Chicago and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, when she was 11. She began quilting as a teenager but set it aside to pursue weaving, an artform in its own right. Hassen relocated to Georgia at age 19, and after living in Atlanta for a few years, she enrolled at Georgia State University to study art. Her initial plans were to learn to draw, but she landed in the weaving department, where she became more familiar with the discipline and even learned to dye her own yarn.

“As a kid, I did all kinds of needlework, knitting, crochet, embroidery and quilting,” Hassen said, “so I think it was natural I ended up as a weaver.”

“Working with color relationships is my favorite thing. I enjoy studying motifs from other cultures and art forms to get ideas for my work.”

Candace Hassen

While still in school, she began working for Montagne Handwoven—a company that crafts custom rugs by hand, mostly for interior design clients. However, the business eventually moved to North Carolina, taking Hassen’s livelihood with it. As a result, she started weaving her own blankets, scarves and tableware and began selling them at area art festivals. In fact, Hassen was part of the Arts Festival of Atlanta “at least nine or 10 times.” 

During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the Georgia Quilt Project stirred her to return to quilting. The project provided two handmade quilts to each country that participated in the Games, with one going to the flagbearer and the other going to the head of the nation’s Olympic committee. As a result of those efforts, 398 quilts were donated. With a background that included a bachelor’s degree in art, it was not long before Hassen discovered a passion for creating her own quilt designs.

“Working with color relationships is my favorite thing,” she said. “I enjoy studying motifs from other cultures and art forms to get ideas for my work.” 

Hassen finds inspiration for her unique designs in nature, paintings and other artistic mediums, including vintage quilts and various textiles. 

“I prefer making quilts that contain many fabrics because I believe this gives the viewer a much more interesting and pleasing quilt to look at,” she said.

After moving from Atlanta to Newborn, Hassen settled in Porterdale, where she has lived for the past 10 years. She soon discovered a community she never knew existed. When Hassen first started quilting in the 1970s, the idea of quilt guilds had not yet gained a foothold. “Now,” she said, “they are everywhere.” The guilds have provided Hassen with an avenue through which to make new friends. “I would go to guild meetings, and we would have guest speakers.” Much to her surprise, an interest in teaching and public speaking grew out of those meetings. Creative juices began to flow. Hassen developed her own educational program, which has taken her to quilt guilds all over the country.

The basis of her program involves teaching and encouraging other guild members to find inspiration outside of looking at other quilts. Hassen nudges them toward examining textiles—especially those from different cultures—and other art forms, like paintings, pottery and architecture. Nature often spurs the imagination, too. When Hassen speaks, she displays her own quilts, shares the inspiration behind them and reveals how she developed each design. Every quilt she creates has its own story. 

Hassen’s journey has had its own set of obstacles. In 2006, she was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor that grows on the cranial nerve that connects the ear to the brain. While a subsequent surgery resulted in some facial paralysis, she continues to speak, teach and visit with quilt guilds throughout the United States. Some of Hassen’s quilts were featured in McCall’s Quilting Magazine, and she has won numerous awards at local shows and fairs.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hassen was involved
with a program in Porterdale that met twice a month. She taught classes at one meeting, and attendees gathered for the sole purpose of community at the next, all while working on their own projects. The group hopes to resume meeting in the near future. For Hassen, it goes beyond designing and making quilts. She desires to help motivate others to piece together masterpieces of their own and to “see the world around them with fresh eyes.” 

For more information on Hassen, visit her website at QuiltDesignsByCandace.com, email her at candacequilter@hotmail.com or find her on Instagram and Pinterest under Quilts by Candace.

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