Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Art the Quilt

This year I did something I have wanted to do for 18 years--I attended the Houston International Quilt Festival. I have been told many times this is a must see event. And since this year was the 35th annual festival, I was assuming that was the truth. But it seemed like every year I had multiple things going on the weekend it was here, and I was never able to make it to the show.

Well, this year I put it on my calendar early and made sure today was kept open. And when it got close to the date, I called one of my friends from church who and gone last year and had told me she wanted to go again this year. Nothing like having someone expect you at something to make sure you don't wimp out and decide it's easier to stay home. And am I glad I didn't wimp out!

Now let me say that although I love to create things, I have never mastered the art of quilting. I have made a couple of tie quilts which aren't very fancy, but nice to wrap up in. Here is one I gave to my oldest daughter:

And one year, with the help my friend Liane, who loves to quilt, I made 2 quilted Christmas card holders. This was my first real experience with strip quilting and applique. They turned out really well, although I must admit by the time I finished them I didn't want to quilt again for quite a while. Here is the holder I kept:

My sister-in-law Michelle is an amazing quilter. I'm the reason for this. You see I gave my second Christmas card holder to her, and it really inspired her to learn to quilt. At least that is what I tell myself. Ok, so I'm probably more than a little delusional about my influence. But she is now a Utah State Fair blue ribbon winning quilter. And let's be perfectly honest, the odds of me ever being able to say that about myself are not good. So I've decided the next best thing is to take credit for hers. I'm sure if you asked her she would confirm this theory. So there really isn't any need to actually ask her. Seriously, you can just take my word for it! Seriously, there is no need to ask her!

Anyway, thanks to my inspiration, ;) , Michelle has created many beautiful quilts. I personally own two wall quilts she has made. Here they are:She has also made graduation quilts for my two oldest daughters. Here the one she made for my college graduate:

Can you see the longhorn?

It's next to the quilt tag.

You should have seen the smile that put on the face of my University of Texas graduate.

So you see, I was not unfamiliar with the art of quilting. Or so I thought. It turns out that I totally underestimated what an artwork quilting is and what artist experienced quilters are. And that point was made at the very first quilt we saw at the quilt show--the Hand quilter's Best of Show winner:

On the Wings of a Dream by Caryl Breyer Fallert

Paduka, Kentucky

As the Best in Show winner, this quilt won a $10,000 prize. I stood in front of it with my mouth hanging open. Wow! This is not what I had expected to see today. It looked like a painting, not a quilt. It was so beautiful and detailed. The artist described it the following way: "After a major life event, a new life chapter begins, and there is freedom to make new choices and try new things. The dancer and the transparent white bird merge together to represent this freedom/ The eagle represents the past, which must be left behind in order to move forward. It was hand dyed and painted, machine pieced, embroidered and quilted. It was the most amazing quilt I had ever seen!

It was hard to pull myself away from this first quilt, but the exhibit hall was huge and there was so much more to see. I was so excited! I had come to see quilts, but as I moved throughout the exhibit I felt like I was in an art museum looking at masterpieces of fine art. Let me share a small portion of what I saw. Here is the next quilt we looked at.:

Hearts and Garlands by Liz Jones

Leominster, Herefordshire, UK

This beautiful quilt won the World of Beauty award and a $7,500 prize. It fit more into my expectation of what I would see at the festival. But even though the design felt more like a quilt to me, the workmanship blew me away. I couldn't even imagine how many hours Liz must have spent on this quilt. She created it to fulfill a long-held ambition to create an original album quilt. She used satin-stitch machine applique and free-motion machine quilting.

We saw some other wonderful traditional style quilts. Here are some of my favorites. I'm including the description that was displayed with the quilt along with the techniques used to create it. To be honest, I don't understand what most of the techniques are. But since some of you might be quilters I thought you might find it interesting. Enjoy!

Building Up by Kathy York of Austin, Texas

1st place Art-Abstract, Small and $1,000 prize

Artist's Description: In an effort to curb urban sprawl, cities are increasingly building upwards, concentrating more and more people into less and less surface area. I love the way modern architecture looks, but I remain weary. It doesn't seem to address the root of the problem, overpopulation and overconsumption.

Techniques: Batik, bleach discharge, overdying, fusing, machine quilting, machine-pieced binding, fused binding.

Garden of Dream by Fasako Takido

Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka-ken, Japan

Winner of the Founder's Award and a $7,500 prize

Artist's Description: In a white footpath of the garden, flowers perform a play. The leading part is the cattleya. Supporting players are wild herbs. With this dream n mind, I made this quilt in the composition of my favorite pattern, Lemon Star.

Techniques: Applique, trapunto

Tuscan Sun by Gina Perkes of Payson, Arizona

Future of Quilting Award, $1,000 prize

Artist's Description: I designed this quilt to hang on a large wall in my home. I dyed over 100 yards of fabric to achieve the proper color gradation.

Techniques: Machine applique and piecing

Clam Session by Karen K. Stone of Beaumont, Texas

The Maywood Studio Master Award for Innovative Artistry, $5,000 prize

Artist's Description: This is a decorative one-patch quilt in that the block shape is a traditional clamshell and the content therein mere ornamentation. As in traditional jazz, improvisation flourishes within familiar structure.

Techniques: Traditional hand and machine applique, machine piecing (some on paper foundations), improvisation.

In addition to these more traditional styles of quilting, I saw many beautiful quilts that reminded me of canvases you might find hanging in an art gallery. Here are some of my favorite.

Snapshot: Shannon's Bantam by Denise Havlan

Plainfield, Illinois

Fairfield Master Award for Contemporary Artistry, $5,000 prize

I love, love, love this quilt. And the artist was actually with it when I saw it. Here she is:

Denise is a grandma, and this is her granddaughter Shannon. I asked her how long it took her to make this quilt. She told me that she worked on it over a 4 year period because life kept getting in the way and she had to keep putting it up. This made things a little difficult for her as she had to keep re-sketching her granddaughter as time passed and her granddaughter grew. But it was definately worth the effort and she was honored to have won the Fairfield Master Award. It was such a beautiful quilt and it took great self control on my part to avoid the booth where they were selling it. One of my absolute favorites of the day!

Artist's description: I love using my granddaughter's image in my work. Here she holds her winning bantam rooster...not for real!

Techniques: Hand and machine applique, embroidery, machine piecing, photo transfer, textile paints, pencil and inks.

Tribute to Tolkien by Sue McCarty of Roy, Utah

Pfaff Master Award for Machine Artistry, $5,000 prize

Artist Description: J.R.R. Tolkein's literary masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, provided inspiration for the quilt. The outer border depicts the enemy, the blocs represent allies , and the centerpiece illustrates Aragorn's coronation and wedding to Arwen. The design was drawn freehand and quilted with a variety of thread.

Techniques: Machine quilting with a variety of threads, painting, embellishments

Beyond the Dream, the Impossible Dream by Joycelyne Leath
Churchlands, Western Australia

1st place Art-People, Portraits and Figures

Artist Description: This quilt was made to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia and was inspired by the uniqueness of the service it provides. It depicts the service's history, its progression, its founder Rev. John Flynn, and the rugged landscape from which it operates.

Techniques: Thread painting, fabric painting, hand-dyed fabric, bleaching, water-soluble work, reverse applique and needleturn applique.

The Calm After the Storm by Inge Mardal & Steen Hougs

Chantilly, France

2nd place Art-Painted Surfaces, $700 prize

Artist Description: There is this special feeling at the end of a rough and busy day.

Techniques: Hand painted and quilted freehand

Close Encounter by Lauretta Crites of Glendora, CA

Artist Description: This quilt was created for a guild challenge. We were required to use the "fishy" fabric, which became the snorkeler's swim trunks. I used my son for the model inspired by a family vacation to Hawaii a couple of years ago when we had such a wonderful time snorkeling.

Techniques: Hand painting, applique, thread painting, embellishment

The Kiss: A Homage to Klimt by Mary Barry

Vacaville, California

Artist Description: Gustav Klimt created many lovely artworks. Though he painted The Kiss over 100 years ago, it is still inspirational today.

Techniques: Applique, painting, layering, thread work, embellishment with beads and metallic cord.

Potential in the Napa Valley

by Sandra MacKenzie-Cioppa of Moraga, CA

Artist Description: I travel to St. Helena each week for the privilege of spending time with my grandchildren. As they grow and change, so do the vineyards. In February, bare vines with mustard busting into bloom makes me think of potential: the children and the future grapes, I cannot keep the little ones little, but this snapshot in time will remind me of this special time in our lives.

Techniques: Machine appliqued and pieced, free motion embroidered, painted woven fabric.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the beautiful quilts! And thanks for the compliments. You are definitely right about my inspiration!


The Allred Family said...

Those quilts are amazing. I had to do a double take on a few of them. What talent!!

I also just looked at Pioneer Woman site- all I can say is I want to eat it all and I'd love to cook it all too! YUMMMMMMM!

Happy Thanksgiving!