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.

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.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Highlights from the 2014 Tucson, Arizona Quilt Fiesta (continued)

We headed south through the sunny Arizona desert last weekend to the  2014 Tucson, Arizona "Quilt Fiesta" .  Here are some more of our favorites.  We hope you have fun viewing these selections!

Together We Dance by Patsy Heacox

1st place winner in the  Pictorial Art category, Patsy writes, "Five times World Champion Hoop Dancer, Tony Duncan, inspired me to include his family in a new way. [My techniques include] inked portraits, raw edge appliqued, thread-painted, embellished. Background quilting of childrens’ images, sacred symbols. 

Close up, Together We Dance by Patsy Heacox

We were very impressed by this artistic quilt and the creative background quilting, which includes the Native American flute player, which you can see in the upper left. You can also see part of the quotes, which Peggy says are inked and then free motion outlined.

Extravagant Nature by Laura Steiniger

Extravagant Nature was adapted from Kim McLean’s Roseville Album pattern. "My love of nature inspired me to adapt a Kim McLean pattern. I added rabbits to personalize the design and had fun creating the birds and animals out of Kaffe Fassett and other fabrics. I’ve never had this much fun playing with fabric."

Close up, Extravagant Nature by Laura Steiniger

In this close-up, you can see the fabulous colors that Laura chose to depict the animals, including the very cute rabbit on the lower right-hand side.

Close-up, Extravagant Nature by Laura Steiniger

Laura has done wonderful work in creating a tree-of-life motif, where these lively, happy creatures exist in a vibrant fantasy world of different hues.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? by Janet Pugh and Barbara Barr, quilted by
Barbara Barr (non-judged)

This highly imaginative quilt is a view of a dinner table, as seen looking down from above on the table. Janet writes, "Barbara and I envisioned hosting a dinner party with 8 of America’s best-known contemporary quilt artists as guests. We designed 8 dinner plates in their respective styles. Ours are the two end plates on the tables. Can you guess who’s coming to dinner?" (The answer is in the footnote* at the end of the post).

Close-up, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? by Janet Pugh and Barbara Barr

Each plate is a mini-quilt that is finished and then appliqued to the surface of the quilt.  This Mariner’s Compass design is from Judy Mathieson.

Close-up, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner by Janet Pugh and Barbara Barr

The plate shown above was designed in the style of Caryl Bryer Fallert.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner by Janet Pugh and Barbara Barr

The plate shown above was designed in the style of Yvonne Porcella.

Silver Winter by Jacquelyn Morris-Smith

This quilt was based on the Golden Tapestry Special Edition pattern by Anita Goodesign, which was originally done in gold thread on a blue background. Jacquelyn says: "When I saw this design I immediately wanted to do it in black and silver. This reminds me of a beautiful winter scene, with over 2 million machine embroidery stitches."

Close up, Silver Winter by Jacquelyn Morris-Smith

In our opinion, this pastoral garden scene brings to mind a tapestry pattern from centuries past. We really enjoyed this superb example of machine embroidery.

Circus Stars by Sally Dickinson, quilted by Mary Vaneecke

First place winner in the medium size quilt made by two persons,  Sally Dickinson notes, "Circus Stars started as a collection of clown embroidery patterns from older Aunt Martha’s Hot Iron Transfers. Instead of working these in Red Work, I chose ‘Rust Work’ to give the quilt an antique feeling." The light colored stars with various sized-points placed in between the blocks really add sparkle to this quilt. Pattern source: Embroidery from old Aunt Martha's Patterns.

Close up, Circus Stars by Sally Dickinson, quilted by Mary Vaneecke

Sally's expert workmanship is shown here in her precise rendering of the tiny blocks and the little clown spinning the balls and the hoops.

Square Peg in a Round Hole by Barb Smart, quilted by Barbara Angerhofer

Barb Smart used a Burgoyne Surrounded pattern by Mary Fons, which was published in the Winter 2012 edition of Quilty Magazine (as of this writing, there is a digital pattern).  We've always loved this pattern, which originated in the 19th century (see the history below). Barb Smart has created a wonderful graphic version with a single blue block which adds a contemporary focal point to this quilt.

close up, Square Peg in a Round Hole by Barb Smart, quilted by Barbara Angerhofer

Barb Smart says: "This quilt is machine pieced and made with 100% cotton. My inspiration was to practice squaring up 9-patch blocks. I like the simplicity of the pattern, yet it shows drama!"  Barbara Angerhofer's quilting, which was done in concentric and overlapping circles, adds interest and a sense of movement to the quilt.

"Burgoyne Surrounded" is an abstract depiction of the battle of Saratoga, a turning point in the American Revolution. The chains of small squares represent regiments of Redcoats and British armies of Burgoyne, marching from Canada, and General Howe, marching from New York. The circle represents militiamen from New England, surrounding Burgoyne at Saratoga. This pattern and a related one, "Burgoyne's Surrender," have been popular since the 19th century.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.
*Answer to "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner": Top row, L-R: Michael James, Jane Sassaman, Ruth McDowell, Ricky Tims; Bottom row, L-R: Judy Mathieson, Yvonne Porcella, Libby Lehman, Carol Bryer Fallert. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Highlights from the 2014 Tucson, Arizona Quilt Fiesta

We headed south through the sunny Arizona desert last weekend to the 2014 Tucson, Arizona "Quilt Fiesta". This week, we're showing some of the quilts that really impressed us. We hope you enjoy our selections !

Tucson, Heart of Arizona, 47 x 70", by Karen G. Fisher

Second place winner for Pictorial Art Quilt,  Karen has made a quilt in the shape of the state of Arizona. Karen's quilt celebrates 100 years of Arizona statehood, from 1912 to 2012.  Karen has appliqued different landmarks and symbols of Arizona. Karen notes, "My Tucson quilt is a collage of the city's history and culture. It inludes sections that have influenced my life; all the arts organizations, the University of Arizona, and all that it has to offer, and Davis Monthan Air Force Base, the reason my family came to Arizona fifty years ago."

Close- up, Tucson, Heart of Arizona by Karen G. Fisher

In this close-up, you can see Karen's applique of Tucson's beautiful San Xavier del Bac mission, one of the first European buildings in Arizona. This quilt also was exhibited in 100 Years 100 Quilts, a project to honor the Arizona Centennial in 2012.

The Quilt with the Dragon Tattoo by Nancy Arsenault

The Quilt with the Dragon Tattoo won three major awards at the Tucson show: Best Use of Color,  First Place in the Whimsical Quilt category, and Exemplary Machine Quilting, Non-Professional category. Nancy writes, "This image of a Chinese dragon tattoo was a collaboration with artist Stephanie Davis." Notice how the dragon's tail winds in and out of the quilt's border, which is a lovely and imaginative design feature.

Close up, The Quilt with the Dragon Tattoo by Nancy Arsenault

Nancy Arsenault adds, "A variety of threads were used for machine applique, embroidery, sashiko, and quilting."  The satin stitched applique and background quilting was beautifully done. 

Mayan Birds and Butterflies by Linda Laird, quilted by Betty Standiferd

Linda explains,  "I have been fascinated with the Mayan hand stamps since I was an anthropology major in the 1970's. [This quilt was] designed as the focal point of my Mayan hand stamp designed quilt line.  See  ."

Close-up, Mayan Birds & Butterflies by Linda Laird, quilted by Betty Standiferd

These bold, strong patterns are beautifully portrayed in black and white, which shows the designs in maximum contrast. Linda has also used a touch of aqua blue to provide  some very eye-catching color to the sashing and border.

The Sky is the Limit by Janice Hester and Alice LaRue, quilted by Mary Vaneecke

Third place award winners in the Group Quilt category, the artists say, "The Sky is the Limit seemed appropriate for this Alaska inspired original quilt. With a butterfly to guide us (see the butterfly in the center of the Ohio Star block, upper right), we chose coordinating batiks, adding contrasting color for depth. [We] created our favorite blocks, assembling them with filler strips."

Close-up, The Sky is the Limit by Janice Hester and Alice LaRue, quilted by Mary Vaneecke

A radiant, cheerful sun, shaped just like a New York Beauty block,  smiles down on the rest of the quilt, an original design created in very effective split-complimentary colors.

Silly Boys... Boots are for Girls by Kathleen McCulloch, quilted by Julie House

Second place winner in the category of Medium Sized Two-Person quilt, Kathleen notes, "I love boots, fabric, and quilting. What a fun way to combine all three for this "salute to the boots." The pattern source for this delightful quilt is Boot Roundup by Sondra Davison.

Close up, Silly Boys... Boots are for Girls by Kathleen McCulloch

Look closely at the red sashing, and you'll see the very innovative quilting design in the shape of barbed wire. In addition, see the tiny stars quilting pattern on the toe of the boot of this darling block.

Harmony by Katie Ammon and Vicki Kauth, quilted by Karolyn “Nubin” Jensen

Harmony is a wedding quilt made for Katie Ammons' daughter and son-in-law. Katie pieced, piped and bound the quilt, and her sister-in-law (Vicki Kauth) designed, appliqued and assembled the quilt top. Katie says:  "Karolyn [Jensen’s] extra-ordinary quilting made it a beautiful 3 part harmony."

close up, Harmony by Katie Ammon and Vicki Kauth, quilted by Karolyn “Nubin” Jensen 

The elegant center applique medallion, shown above, was based on the Good Fortune Poppy pattern by Geri Richardson of Grannie ‘G’ Applique.

The spiral pieced borders and overall design were inspired by Katie Fields' Oriental Fantasy Quilt taken from RaNae Merrill’s Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts.

Image credits: Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.
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