Monday, January 27, 2014

Road to California 2014: Part 1

By luck or chance, we've found ourselves attending three quilt shows in three weeks (!) Last week we featured the Tucson Quilt Fiesta and this week we're sharing photos from the Road to California.  (Next week we'll be going to the AQS show, which will be coming to Phoenix, Arizona for the first time.)  Here are some of the awe-inspiring quilts we saw at the Road to California.

Celestial Splendor, 62 x 62”, by Rachel Wetzler

Rachel Westzler won 2nd place in the Innovative Wall Applique category for Celestial Splendor.  Her original design is based on the ceiling in the crossing tower of Canterbury Cathedral, one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. All of the shapes that make up this original and colorful design are appliqued - even the straight lines - with fused raw edge applique.  This quilt really stood out with its intricate geometric design and beautiful colors.

close up, Celestial Splendor by Rachel Wetzler

Rachel did all of the work - design, applique and quilting - on Celestial Splendor. In her blog post, she explains that Celestial Splendor is a quilt with a hundreds of individual shapes:  "The only way to achieve accuracy on a complex quilt like this is to use acrylic overlays for exact placement of the fabric shapes." After fusing, each shape is finished with a small zigzag stitch using tracing paper as a temporary stabilizer.  For more information on  techniques, see Rachel Wetzler Quilts.

Where We Met, 43 x 59", by Linda C. Anderson

Where We Met won a major award of $1000 for Best Wall Quilt at the Road to California.  There were so many admirers crowded in front of this quilt that we had to wait until late in the day to get a photo.  From a distance this quilt looks like a landscape painting rather than an art quilt. What is interesting is that the trees, pond and reflections were done in shades of gray, while the color was reserved for the house in the background and the green lily pads in the foreground, which are balanced by a swath of green on the pond's edge.  Linda Anderson achieved a meticulous, almost photorealistic effect with changes of value.

close up, Where We Met by Linda C. Anderson

Linda Anderson explains the inspiration for this scene:  "After an exhaustive genealogy search, I discovered unknown family in Sweden. Seven of us from the US traveled to meet them in a little village north of Stockholm named Hogbo. After over 100 years of both sides losing knowledge of the other, we were reunited with much joy and love. This is a depiction of Where We Met."

Music of the Spheres by Ann B. Feitelson

We were excited to see this gem of a wall quilt at the Road to California. We think that this show needs to create an award category for Contemporary Design, as this quilt surely would have won.  In her artist's statement for Music of the Spheres, Ann Feitelson says:  "I love stripes. I love circles. Striped circles on stripes evoke the sun, or a sunset, or lightwaves. I made a few blocks with circles on stripes, and a few more, and started to put them together. An order evolved (very slowly!)"  In the lower right corner block of the quilt there is a blue-green sphere that reminds us of images of the earth from space.

close up, Music of the Spheres by Ann B. Feitelson

The illusion of transparency in the spheres is more apparent in this zoomed-in photo. You can also see tiny birds, which appear to be riding the quilted waves which undulate across the surface of the quilt. Ann Feitelson is a contemporary art quilter who is best known for her mastery of color in design; this new piece is so harmonious and pleasing to the eye, we could have gazed at it for hours.   For more photos and information on the work of Ann Feitelson, please see our 2013 feature article and interview in A Fine Art: the colorful quilts of Ann Feitelson

Big Bertha, 99 x 99”, by Margaret Solomon Gunn

Margaret Solomon Gunn won the Masterpiece Award of $5000 for Big Bertha.   We enjoyed seeing her outstanding quilting close up (unlike many of the quilts at Road to California, this quilt was not blocked off with tape, but it was attended by a white-glove volunteer).   Traditional Dresden plates form the basis for the colorful design, but there is plenty of open space to showcase Margaret's exemplary quilting.  There are many motifs, with portions of the quilting motif or the piecing repeated.

close up, Big Bertha by Margaret Solomon Gunn

We hope this close up photo captures the incredible detail of Margaret's hand-guided original quilting designs. On her website at Mainely Quilts of Love, Margaret explains that Big Bertha took approximately 22 months from start to finish.  She spent about 150-175 hours on the quilting over the course of 6-7 weeks. The quilting was done using several shades of silk thread – 5 miles or so.

Margaret included feathers, straight and curved ruler work, and a multitude of fillers. Some of the fillers were designed specifically for this quilt. Big Bertha also won won Best of Show at MQX-New England in April 2013.

Grandpa Calls Everybody Cowboy by Melanie B. McFarland, quilted by Kathleen Woods

This charming, whimsical quilt by Melanie B. McFarland really made us smile. Melanie explains the theme for this quilt:  "When my sons were younger and we would visit my parents, they would ask, “Why Does Grandpa Call Everybody Cowboy?” He would forget the names of his grandchildren and call them all “cowboy”. You may know Melanie as the co-author (with Mary Lou Weidman) of the book, Out of the Box with Easy Blocks: Fun with Free Form Quilting.  The borders of this quilt have many free-form blocks made with Western prints.

close up,  Grandpa Calls Everybody Cowboy by Melanie B. McFarland, quilted by Kathleen Woods

This quilt shows "Grandpa" wearing a real bolo tie: "the bolo tie came from his vast collection of Native American jewelry. He also had many dachshunds (you can see a dachshund in this photo) and [he] raced homing pigeons... He has 9 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren; 8 cowboys and 6 cowgirls." You can see the backs of the childrens heads as they are facing Grandpa in this photo.

Byrne’s Spiral by Beth Nufer and Clem Buzick, quilted by Clem Buzick

Byrne's Spiral was one of the most dazzling quilts at the show, both for its pieced design and exemplary quilting (by Clem Buzick).  The quilt was named for Beth's husband,  Byrne Miller.  Byrne's Spiral won a blue ribbon in the Innovative Large Mixed category at the Road to California.  Beth Nufer says:  "My inspiration was the sateen gradated fabric. The central design was done on graph paper first, then paper pieced."  The gradated gray fabric gives a lustrous background to the colorful spirals and flying geese.

close up, Byrne’s Spiral by Beth Nufer and Clem Buzick, quilted by Clem Buzick

This close up photo shows the dynamic vortex created by this spiral design.  We hope that you can see the innovative quilting, which was expertly done by Clem Buzick. 

Stay tuned this week for more quilt show photos from the Road to California!

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.


  1. Произведения искусства!!! Я в восторге от этой красоты!!!

  2. Excellent photos. Looks like you had a wonderful time. I look forward to hearing more insights from you on road, as well as AQS Phoenix. Have fun.


  3. Stunning work! How much work invested masters, it seems unattainable, I admire

  4. Wow such amazing quilts! Thanks for sharing a bit of the show.

  5. I was fortunate to spend time each day at Road and your photos have done a fantastic job of capturing the quilts. Thank you for sharing them.


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