Thursday, January 30, 2014

Road to California 2014: Part 2

For Day 2 of our Road to California recap, we've carefully selected some quilts we hope you will enjoy.  They did not all win awards at this show, but they were at the top of our list of show-stopping quilts.

Rainbow Nouveau, 78 x 78",  by Margaret Solomon Gunn

We appreciated all of the elements that went into Rainbow Nouveau by Margaret Solomon Gunn:  spectacular quilting, feathered stars, 8-pointed stars, Art Nouveau applique, and colorful, twining vines. This quilt has won numerous awards, including Best of Show at the 2012 Lowell Quilt Festival. The quilting combines structured feather forms with more free-form background fillers including pebbling, feathering, parallel lines, curved cross-hatching, and other designs.

close up, Rainbow Nouveau by Margaret Solomon Gunn

We are always interested in the construction of complex quilts, so we were riveted by Margaret's blog post called Lightning Strikes Twice, in which she discusses Rainbow Nouveau.  It is a fascinating story of patience, persistence, and skill.

Panning for Gold by Lea McComas

This original design was inspired by a historical photo of a gold miner working the river, this quilt was created using fused raw-edge applique and heavy thread painting. Lea McComas says: "It embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and determination of those who settled the West in search of a better life."

The thread painting was so subtle, it was difficult to distinguish between the thread and the applique work.  We had to zoom in to see how it was done. Can you see the stitches in the photo below? 

We've often thought of thread painting as going back and forth with lines that are close together, as on the man's hand in the above photo. On the man's sleeve, however, Lea McComas has used a jumble of large jagged stitches that mimic the texture one might see on a worn old shirt.  Can you see the jagged stitches on the man's sleeve? One more zoom...

Shape Shifter by Nancy C. Arsenault

In this dynamic quilt, Nancy Arsenault created an unusual setting for New York Beauty blocks and sawtooth sashing; the "X" shapes that are formed are capped with little stars. Nancy called the quilt Shape Shifter because every time you look at it, you notice different shapes in the patchwork. In her artist statement, Nancy says: "Why Shape Shifter? Well, what shape did you notice first? The big X? The center diamond? The undulating curves, or all those points?"

close up, Shape Shifter by Nancy C. Arsenault

Nancy Arsenault's original setting incorporates New York Beauty blocks and sashing from Sue Garman’s Sleeping Beauty pattern . The unusual design and the perfectly complementary chartreuse and red-violet color scheme color scheme really stood out at this show. 

Sushi III by Mary Kay Price

Sushi III is a fascinating quilt made with reverse applique batiks and hand dyed fabrics, which were used to create asymmetric overlapping shapes within each block.  The unusual effect reminded us of the gridded abstractions of artist Chuck Close. This quilt won a major award of $1000 for Best Quilt from a First Time Entrant, sponsored by Square Within Square; it previously received Best of Show at the 2013 AQS Show in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here is a close up photo...

In this close up you can see that decorative machine embroidery was used to finish the edges of each of the the shapes. Further machine quilting was done within and around the pieces, using various designs.  The embroidery and quilting was done with rayon and polyester threads on a domestic machine.

Valley Snapshots, 36.5 x 32", by Timna Tarr

This colorful quilt, with its pleasing rhythmic curves, won the Best Modern Piecing award, sponsored by Stash Books.   We liked the clever way in which Timna Tarr created a trapunto-like effect by using dense quilting on some of the pieces, while letting others protrude from the surface of the quilt, giving the appearance of hills and valleys.  The light and dark hues also lend to the impression of sunshine and shadows.  Here is a close-up photo that shows the quilting:

In describing the inspiration for this quilt, Timna says:  "My house is located between the Connecticut River and the Holyoke Mountain Range. I look at these landscapes each day and their shapes are etched in my subconscious."  For an even better close-up, see Timna Tarr's website at Q Tailored Quilts.

My Blue Log Cabin by Chris Taylor (Lincoln, Nebraska)

Chris Taylor won honorable mention for this contemporary/traditional quilt, which merged log cabin blocks with hand-dyed fabrics in warm and cool colors. Chris says that she played with color and value in making this quilt. Note that the blocks used in the center cross are 1.5 times larger than the blocks in the four corners of the quilt; the large size blocks, along with the light colors in the cross, make the cross really stand out from the rest of the quilt.  Chris says: "Notice the plus sign... positive." My Blue Log Cabin was beautifully hand quilted, as shown below.

In this close up you can see the rich colors of the hand-dyed fabrics, along with Chris Taylor's hand quilting, which was done in circular designs with multiple colors of thread.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.


  1. Thanks you for the wonderful photos. When I see these quilts I wonder where they put them? are quilts, paintings, wallhangings ....


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