By Susan Elise Campbell
Black Sheep Quilts LLC founder Adam Hoffman, turned a passion for fabric art into the business of crafting custom quilts for gifts and occasions of all kinds.
Hoffman grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, where one could be accustomed to seeing quilts hanging out on the line and where people go to purchase hand-made items, he said.
His great grandmother was a quilter, but he didn’t put needle to cloth until 2020 making patchwork corduroys for himself. He enjoyed making baby quilts and bedding as gifts. But it was the popularity of his original t-shirt designs that people took interest in. He wore some of the designs while tending bar and people started to inquire about them.
“My shirt was a conversation starter and that is good for a bartender,” he said.
Hoffman began to make shirts with logos, faces of band members, and other custom designs for clients. Then New York non-essential businesses went on pause because of the pandemic and Hoffman’s career as a bartender came to an end.
“I was a pre-school teacher for 17 years and a bartender for three,” he said. “Now I’m a quilter. I don’t call myself an artist, but what I am doing is art.”
The art comes out of working with the client and asking questions to get a sense of why the quilt is being made.
“Every quilt tells a story,” he said. “Why I am making the quilt is in the design every step of the way.”
The business is operated out of his home.
“I don’t have to rent space or stock fabrics or dyes,” he said. “There is no overhead working out of the home with a family of four and a couple of cats. Quilts are all over the kitchen table and on the floor.”
Social media is a key marketing aspect.
“Social media is a challenge for me,” he said. “I had to be convinced to sell myself. But I’m always thinking about it.”
Another challenge is convincing people why his quilts might be considered expensive.
“Even a small quilt can take 20 to 30 hours to make, plus the cost of fabric and backing,” he said.
Oftentimes fabric is provided by the client. One gave Hoffman her dog’s bandanas and he memorialized the pet by making a small quilt for her bed.
One particularly large memorial quilt has captured the attention of the press. It is an oversized quilt made from the neckties of the late Ed Bartholomew, former president of EDC Warren County and mayor of Glens Falls. Bartholomew, a renowned and popular official for many years, died in July.
“Ed’s widow, Maggie, had donated all of his clothes to charity, but she somehow had not parted with a big bag of his ties,” Hoffman said. “When we talked about what the end result should look like, Maggie said, I’ll leave that up to you.”
Hoffman took apart every single necktie and separated the backing, the lining, labels and stay loops in the making of the quilt.
For more information blacksheepquilts.com.
By Susan Elise Campbell