Friday, June 27, 2014

O, Canada !

Canada marks its 147th birthday on July 1 !  Canada Day marks the anniversary of the Constitution Act of 1867, joining Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province (now Ontario and Quebec) into one country.  In honor of the occasion, here are beautiful quilts by Canadian artists.

Expedition by Brigitte Villeneuve (Joncquiere, Quebec, Canada)

Brigitte Villeneuve says: “What a thrill to paddle on a calm lake looking for a trophy speckled trout in the northern Quebec spruce forest.” She made this original quilt for her oldest son as a souvenir of his first father-and-son expedition.

close up, Expedition by Brigitte Villeneuve

The bright orange vest and plaid shirt of the canoer contrasts perfectly with the blue lake. You can also see the reflections of the figure, and the reflections of the trees, in the rippling water.  This lovely quilt was constructed with cotton fabric, machine applique and machine quilting.

Columbia Lake by Judy Weiss (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Columbia Lake was exhibited in the O, Canada exhibit at the 2013 Houston IQF. This tranquil scene was machine appliqued, thread painted, and free-motion quilted. The original design was drawn from a photograph of Columbia Lake, on Highway 93 in British Columbia. Judy Weiss says: "The wide open sky, intense blues of the lake, and the drama of the surrounding mountains is breathtaking. It is one of my favourite places on earth."  

close up, Columbia Lake by Judy Weiss

In this close up photo you can see the way in which the mountains fade into the horizon.  Judy Weiss says: "On this particular day, atmospheric perspective caused the mountains to fade in steps of colour into the distance before the last mountains blended into the pale blue sky.    I enjoyed capturing that scene and that moment of time in cloth and stitch."

Five Man Dory by Pamela Allen (Kingston, Ontario, Canada)

This design was inspired by Inuit imagery.  Pamela says: "Whaling is a big part of their history. I envision whalers on the Arctic Sea with the Inuit, my mythical seal woman watching over them." The quilt was based on an original monoprint that Pamela created in Newfoundland; you can see the monoprint at Pamelart. We've always admired Pamela Allen's work, and this piece was stunning in person.

close up, Five Man Dory by Pamela Allen

In the close-up photo you can see the blanket stitching around the seal woman applique, her face - which resembles an Inuit carving - and the small blue fishes swimming in the ocean above her.   You can see the intricate free-motion stitching in the ivory background, which was detailed with the echoes of many different images including a salmon in the lower right.

The Four Elements by Margaret Jessop (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

Margaret Jessop created these exuberant portrait quilts of her four children. She was inspired to depict them as the four elements, shown from left to right: water, earth, fire and air.  "Katy, a swim instructor, is represented by Water; Paul, an ecotour guide, is Earth; Fraser is in a rock band and swings poi* (Fire); and Anna plays wind instruments, so she is Air."

close up, The Four Elements (Water) by Margaret Jessop

We were fascinated by the way in which Margaret depicted her daughter with a wide variety of fabric values and patterns.  Margaret says, "I learned this technique in a class by Susan Carlson at Sugar Pine quilt shop in Canmore (Alberta)."

Here is another close up which shows the way in which Margaret constructed the eye, including tiny bits of fabric to depict reflections of light.

close up, The Four Elements (Earth) by Margaret Jessop

This element was one of our favorites. In keeping with the theme of her son Fraser as Earth, Margaret has depicted him in green and has woven leafy vines in his hair.

Asking by Maggie Vanderweight (Fergus, Ontario, Canada)

This really fascinating quilt was made with a hand-painted whole cloth background that was machine quilted. Strings of felted stones in graduated sizes were hung from the front of the quilt. In the lower right  of the background you can see the single word: asking.  Maggie says, "It is so important to remember to ask life for what we really, really want. The felted stones represent wishes and prayers strung like a rosary. The blue is for skies, deep calm and water. The fish is jumping for the joy of being alive."

Light and Gold, 32 x 42", by Heather Lair (Gimli, Manitoba, Canada)

This gorgeous contemporary quilt was made in 2008 by Heather Lair, who created quilts for 35 years. Sadly Heather passed away suddenly on July 3rd, 2013. She left a incredible legacy in the quilting world. The description of Light and Gold says: "This quilt is a playful study of colour and repeated shapes. Red, usually the dominant colour, sits back and lets the blue, green and gold shapes take center stage. I used soft-edge spirals in the quilting designs, and a hand-dyed cream coloured border to create even more fun and whimsy in this quilt."

close up, Light and Gold by Heather Lair

Although Light and Gold is a contemporary design, it was beautifully hand quilted, which adds a truly handcrafted touch. In this close-up photo you can see the overlapping dimensional prairie points that decorate the right-hand border of the quilt. For more of Heather Lair's work, see the gallery at Heather Lair Designs.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.
*footnote:  "Poi" involves swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns. Poi can be made from various materials with different effects, such as fire. Poi originated with the Māori people of New Zealand.


  1. Those are spectacular quilts. I thought the top was a photograph at first glance. 5 Man Dory really speaks to my soul!

  2. Interesting how the quilting adds to the whole picture.

  3. Beautiful and unique quilts! Thanks for sharing.

  4. These quilts are absolutely beautiful. That someone can do that with fabric is amazing! I can only imagine the hours and hours and hours that went into making them.


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