Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Giant Giveaway Coming Soon !

In appreciation of our 2000 + followers on Quilt Inspiration and our 63,000 + followers on Pinterest,  we're planning the biggest September Giveaway ever, including 2 JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts gift cards.  For fabulous prizes, please stay tuned !

Friday, August 22, 2014

Modern Quilt Month: Japanese art quilts

The modern quilt craze has hit Japan !  Here are some spectacular results from Japanese quilt artists.

When the Sunset Crowns Mt. Fuji in my Fascinating Dream, 79 x 67", by Mihoko Tanaka (Miyazaka-Ken, Japan)

Mihoko notes, " Mt. Fuji's imposing appearance attracts visitors from the local area as well as from overseas. Mt. Fuji is especially imposing when the clouds are flowing past the mountain changing not only its shapes, but also its colors during sunsets. It deeply impresses me an creates a kind of 'spirit' that dwells deep in my mind."

Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain at 12,389 feet, can be seen from Tokyo on a clear day. Its beauty is often depicted with stunning results, such as Mihoko's use of color saturated silks adorned with a variety of stitches. Mihoko's original design is machine pieced and machine appliqued and quilted.

Stalagmites by Mitsuko Kinoshita (Tokyo, Japan)

Mitsuko says, "I created the scene in the Akiyshidai calcareous cave.  I emphasized the stalagmites and added movement ( by using) tulle fabric."

Close up, Stalagmites by Mitsuko Kinoshita

Mitsuko's shimmering work, in which the stalagmites are seen as ethereal forms descending though a mist, was part of a retrospective of Yokohama Quilt Week  at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.

Light of Rays by Michiyo Fukumoto (Anan, Tokushima, Japan)

Michiyo states, " I expressed icy and clear light spreading in freezing winter with my favorite monotone colors. I quilted with lame thread and used the luster of satin to emphasize the part of [bright] light."

Close up, Light of Rays by Michiyo Fukumoto

Michiyo's outstanding sense of design and symmetry shows very well as she skillfully arranges neutral tones into light and dark hues.  Her work is machine pieced and machine quilted. We love the pretty cerulean fabric at the top, which seems to us like a hint of blue sky peeking through the winter clouds.

Evolution by Keiko Ike

Second place winner for Best of Country at the  2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival,  Keiko writes, "I have been living with grief in my heart since the 2011 East Japan Great Earthquake and have spent a lot of time thinking about reconstructing Japan. One day, an illustration that I unintentionally drew gave me an idea; and I wanted to express it on a quilt. I wholeheartedly pray for progress and evolution in the future and tried to put this idea on this quilt like it is to be my future life. " 

Close up, Evolution by Keiko Ike 

This exquisite quilt  is designed as a non-objective pattern using mostly solid color shapes, with long slender strands. We love the fabulous quilting, especially the strands of feathers that languidly run horizontally and vertically.   Keiko's original design is machine pieced, appliqued, and quilted. 

Life, 80 x 80", by Yoshiko Katagiri

Yoshiko Katagiri was one of the world renowned international teachers at the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival. She has been a quilt maker for over thirty years, winning her first quilt show prize in 1990. Yoshiko states, "Our daily action may be the moving of a circle in the time of the globe. But I feel each circle is brilliant and lovely."

Life by Yoshiko Katagiri, Japan

These carefully appliqued circles contain bits and pieces from silk kimono fabric.  A beautiful display of pale colors or of motifs with a white background, they stand out elegantly against a sophisticated dark background, which appears to be hand quilted. Yoshiko's  striking and innovative design made this quilt one of our favorites at the entire festival.

 Believe II by Reiko Nobata (Nanto City, Toyama, Japan)

Reiko notes, "People, once in a while, can't step forward when they do something. They wonder whether this is the right direction and something wrong might happen to them. There are mixed feelings of expectation and uneasiness. There must be good results, if they believe in themselves. Call up all your courage and go forward. " Reiko's original work is machine pieced and quilted.

Close-up, Believe II by Reiko Nobata

To us, this piece seems to depict a giant vortex or maze, with an opening of light at the end of the swirled tunnel. We imagine that it might symbolize the swirl of decisions or choices that all of us face in our quest to meet our goals. Notice how the parallel lines of quilting help to distinguish and highlight each piece of fabric from the others.

Image credits Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival and Houston International Quilt Festival.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Modern Quilt Month: Beautiful in Black and White

Black and white quilts almost always look modern! A bright spot of color can be introduced for contrast and interest.  In today's post we're featuring pieced and appliqued quilts that we really admire.  We hope you will enjoy these black-and-white works of art.

Does He Make My Butt Look Big?  by Kristen Bryson (Houston, Texas), 2013 Houston IQF

Kristen Bryson gave a very humorous title to this wonderful zebra quilt.  She says, "This quilt was made in response to a challenge to enter the Ultimate Guild Challenge. Our chosen theme was “Out of Africa.” When I saw the photo taken by Maqsood Mughal, I had my inspiration.” The techniques used were raw-edge fused applique and machine quilting.

Close up, Does He Make My Butt Look Big?  by Kristen Bryson

The little bird might be considered the focal point of the quilt, as the viewer's eye is immediately drawn to the bright, tropical colors. Even though the bird and the zebra are different, both in color and stature, they have a great affinity for each other. Kristen's charming quilt was assembled using raw-edge fused applique and machine quilting.

Kaleidoscope by Dawn Guglielmino, quilted by Beth Hummel, 2014 Road to California

Black-and-white fabrics look great in a kaleidoscope design. This fun quilt was featured on page 54 of Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! 3rd edition by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, and in a special exhibit at the 2014 Road to California. The fabrics were from the Licorice Fizz collection by Carol van Zandt.

Black and White Desert by Eileen Wintemute, 2013 PIQF

We admire the graphic cactus shapes and the touches of golden yellow that enliven this quilt. Eileen Wintemute says, “Living in the southwestern United States affords me many opportunities to visit the desert. I have learned to appreciate its beauty and diversity of plant and wildlife. I love the wonderful shapes of desert plants in particular. My favorite “souvenir” from a visit to the desert is a sketch made from something I have seen on my visit. This fiber art piece is a compilation of a few of my desert sketches.”

Doodling by Beth Shibley (Los Alamitos, California), 2013 PIQF

Beth Shibley says, “This quilt began with a doodle. Lots of swirls, flowers, circles and squares. It was fun to transfer my pen and ink into fabric and thread.” Notice how the white background is closely quilted, which causes the whimsical black flowers and vines to really "pop".  To us, it looks as if Beth received much joy from creating this fanciful, enchanting quilt.

The Light by Mary Tabar (San Diego, California), 2013 PIQF

Mary Tabar says, "I have been studying abstract design with an all-over pattern of circles. Look and see how many patterns you can find." Mary's quilt, along with the two above, was part of the Black and White Challenge exhibition, sponsored by a well-known Southern California art quilt group, Quilts on the Wall.  The show-within-a-show appeared at the 2012 Long Beach (California) Quilt Festival and later traveled to the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival.

Snail's Trail miniature quilt by Jeannie Coleman, 2014 Tucson Quilters Guild show

In this auction mini-quilt, snail's trail blocks were combined with storm-at-sea sashing.  The sashing is all done in two fabrics, creating stars at the intersections of the blocks. Jeannie Coleman says, "Black and white fabrics are my favorites. Adding a little red really perks it up."

Close up, Snail's Trail 

Jeannie Coleman says, "I’m delighted that the money raised from this auction will go to World Care."
How many different black and white fabrics can you count here? It always amazes us how much interesting contrast can be achieved simply by varying the printed shapes and values of each fabric pattern.

Serenity Squared , 69 x 69, by Marla Whalen (Arlington, Tennessee), 2014 AQS Quilt Week

This is a medallion quilt with three borders and an incredible amount of piecing and applique work. It really has something for every quilt enthusiast --  geometric pieced stars, a stunning appliqued floral focal point surrounded by graceful scroll work,  and an intricate patchwork border which  reminds us of  the  "Burgoyne Surrounded" pattern.

Close up, Serenity Squared by Marla Whalen

Marla's gray scroll work provides an elegant and restful juxtaposition between the diamond shaped medallion and the high contrast bold stars set "en pointe".  She's done a lovely job of displaying a wide range of light, medium, and dark values.

We've always been intrigued by black-and-white flower bouquets... this basket even has a basket-weave appearance!

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Modern Quilt Month: Contemporary Art Quilts

In our eyes, the most fascinating modern quilts are art quilts. Much as traditional artists use paint and canvas, contemporary quilt artists choose to express themselves with original works in cloth and thread.  These pieces are meant to be displayed on walls.  As described in The Art Quilt by Robert Shaw, the art quilt movement began in the 1960s, and it has continued to evolve, expand and flourish in the present.  Here are some brilliant works of art from recent shows.

The Power of Yellow, 24 x 60", by Yvonne Porcella (Modesto, California)

Yvonne Porcella is a pioneer of the art quilt movement.  Her works are in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the M.H. de Young Museum of Art, and other leading institutions. The Power of Yellow is a reflection on Vincent van Gogh and France. We loved the saturated colors, freehand forms, and the jaunty stance of the figure in this piece.  Yvonne explains: "I’ve been to France numerous times and am always thrilled when I see an older man with a hat, walking, remembering... In Arles we saw the yellow house [and] stood on sidewalk tiles witnessing what Vincent had painted. Suddenly the park was filled with townspeople in full costume, women dressed in yellow, men positioning their horses... What an exquisite moment!"

close up, The Power of Yellow by Yvonne Porcella


Yvonne Porcella founded the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) in 1989.  You can see Yvonne talk about the history of the art quilt movement at the 25th anniversary SAQA conference at YouTube.  To celebrate the silver anniversary, she will have a solo exhibit called Yvonne Porcella, Once and Again, at the 2014 Houston International Quilt Festival.  Last but not least, her newest book, a memoir, will be published in Fall, 2014.

The Forest, 85 x 81", by Misik Kim (Seoul, Korea)

The Forest by Misik Kim is a stunning hand-stitched piece that was published in Martha Sielman’s book Masters Art Quilts Vol. 2: Major Works by Leading Artists. The piece consists of overlapping reverse-appliqued circles within squares, done in autumn colors that complement the blues and grays.  The appliqued elements fade to white against the beautiful hand-dyed background. Misik explains, "Mt. Keryong is famous in Korea for the beautiful scenery and the colors of its forest. Misik has lived near this mountain for several years and this work reflects a mountaintop in autumn from a bird’s eye view."

close up, The Forest by Misik Kim

We saw The Forest in person at the SAQA exhibit within the 2014 AQS Quilt Week.  Misik Kim has been working as a professional fiber artist since the mid-1980's. She has exhibited internationally in invitational and juried exhibitions.  For more information on her work, see Viewpoints 9 : An International Collective of Fiber Artists. The Forest is currently available for purchase at the SAQA store.

Cheers by Pat Kroth (Verona, Wisconsin)

The title of this quilt, Cheers, perfectly describes the feeling conveyed by the many squiggles and confetti-like squares that cover the hand-dyed fabric. Pat Kroth explains her inspiration: "Growing up in a family of four children, we had our share of “spilled milk” at the dinner table...  Now when the drinks overturn, it’s become a family tradition to laugh, stand up and toast “Cheers!"

Cheers by Pat Kroth

As an artist, Pat Kroth has worked in a variety of media: painting, printmaking and photography.  Her innovative fiber art pieces have been included in many group and solo exhibitions.  For more information see Pat Kroth Fiber Art and SAQA.

Indian Summer, 34 x 40", by Karlee Porter (Clinton, Utah)

Indian Summer was inspired by the traditional Indian henna tattoos that often adorn an Indian bride on her wedding day.   We loved the elaborate quilting designs on this contemporary whole cloth quilt, which was made with Karlee Porter's own hand-dyed fabric.  The machine quilting was done using black thread, which stands out against the pastel hues of the background.

Indian Summer by Karlee Porter

Additional quilting was done in yellow and orange threads, such as in the lotus blossom shapes in the lower left of the close up photo.   Karlee specializes in creative, original computerized quilting designs and modern digitally-designed fabrics.  Indian Summer was exhibited at the 2014 AQS Quilt Week.  For more information visit Karlee's website at Karlee

Autumn Canopy, 39 x 48", by Tim Harding (Stillwater, Minnesota)

Autumn Canopy is a piece from Tim Harding’s "Crushed Grid" series, done in his signature reverse applique technique, which creates a three-dimensional surface.  We were fascinated by the texture and painterly quality of this piece.  He uses saturated, iridiscent silk colors to create a rich, lit-from-within quality. As in Autumn Canopy, Tim's abstract art compositions subtly reference the landscape, reminding us of an impressionist painting.

close up, Autumn Canopy by Tim Harding

The brilliant blues of the silks peek through several layers of folded/crushed squares in autumn hues of gold, russet and green.  Autumn Canopy was published in Martha Sielman’s book Masters Art Quilts Vol. 2: Major Works by Leading Artists; it is being exhibited in the SAQA Masters II exhibit within AQS 2014. As of this post, this piece is available for purchase at the SAQA store.

ArtFabrik, 51 x 51", by Laura Wasilowski (Elgin, Illinois)

ArtFabrik is not only the name of this outstanding, colorful piece but also of Laura Wasilowski's website. We loved the composition, which depicts a huge paintbrush creating a swath of color.  The description of ArtFabrik reads: "Laura is a dyer. Color is both her work and her pleasure. Her work is to change plain, white fabric into something colorful. Her pleasure is to make the cloth colorful art."

close up, ArtFabrik by Laura Wasilowski

Laura's beautiful fabrics and quilting can be seen in this close-up photo. ArtFabrik was published in Masters Art Quilts Vol. 2, and shown in the SAQA Masters II exhibit at the 2014 AQS shows.   Laura Wasilowski has inspired many other quilters with her hand-dyed fabrics and threads, art quilt patterns and workshops; for more information see ArtFabrik. ArtFabrik (the quilt) is presently available for purchase at Laura's website.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration. The Power of Yellow by Yvonne Porcella was shown in the 2013 Dinner At Eight Artist's exhibit in Houston.  Cheers by Pat Kroth also was photographed at the 2013 Houston IQF.  For more art quilt inspiration, see our Contemporary Quilts board at Pinterest.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Modern Quilt Month: Improvisational quilting

Today's post features improvisational quilts. Much as a painter would use a brush, improvisational piecing is a creative approach to generating a work of art without the rules imposed by a traditional quilt block.  Still, "improvisational" does not mean "random".  If a pleasing composition is the goal, there has to be inspiration, a focal point, and some repetition of color, line, shape or texture.  We were intrigued by these improvisational quilts.

Spring Fever, 57 x 50", by Jan Soules (Elk Grove, California)

Spring Fever was exhibited at the 2014 AQS Quilt Week in Phoenix, Arizona.  The quilt reminds us of spring flowers, green grass, blue sky, and white fences.  The description says, "Jan Soules made this quilt as a celebration of spring.  The colors are fresh, clean and vibrant.  It was free-form pieced in individual blocks."  In our eyes, the x-shaped gate in the picket fence marks the focal point just to the right of center.

close up, Spring Fever by Jan Soules

As shown in this close-up photo, many different types of fabrics were used to add interest. The quilting was done in a flowing fashion with some circles, pebbles, maze, zig zag and wavy lines.

Through the Screen Door by Linda Cote

Through the Screen Door won first prize in the One Person-Art Quilt category at the 2014 Tucson Quilters Guild show.  The "screen door" is clearly the focal point of this piece.  The solid colors nicely complement the floral print fabric.  Linda Cote says that she was inspired by the work of Sally Carruth and Jean Wells : "[I] loved the experience of piecing and quilting from the right wide of the brain. I will do more!”

Fields of Color by Ruan Robertson (Bethesda, Maryland)

We spotted Fields of Color at the 2014 Road to California show. Ruan Robertson says, “This quilt is based on a detail of a paper collage, which was a study for an earlier quilt. All the piecing in the “fields” was improvised for variety in color and texture." The quilt was made of hand dyed and commercial cottons.

close up, Fields of Color by Ruan Robertson

In the close-up photo you can see that what appears to be fields of color are actually made up of pieces of fabrics of similar hues/values but different textures.  This adds a subtle variation of texture when viewed from a distance.  Ruan Robertson is a member of SAQA and you can see her 2014 SAQA auction quilt (scroll down).

Modern Family by Kenci Lewis (Tucson, Arizona)

Kenci Lewis says, "The abstract piecing [was] inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture in Wisconsin and Picasso’s art in Spain after two amazing trips this year. This piece began as a landscape then, turned on its side, became a family group."   The wood-grain-like fabric added a warm, earthy texture to this original work of art. Some very expressive quilting was used in different sections of the quilt.

Ripple Effect II, 50 x 68", by Marianne Haak (St. Albert, Alberta, Canada)

Ripple Effect II won the Piecing Award in the 2013 Modern Quilt Challenge sponsored by the American Quilters Society. On her blog at The Quilting Edge, Marianne says, "I started playing with some wonky, curved piecing. The quilt seemed to make itself as I tapped into the melancholy side of my temperament... a little over three weeks later the quilt was done."  To learn more, check out Marianne's wonky curves how-to and her wonderful quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) tutorials.

Resonance by Heather Pregger (Fort Worth, Texas)

Resonance won second place in the Art-Abstract category at the 2014 Road to California show.  The open white triangle, which reminds us of the shape of a harp, forms the focal point of this beautiful art quilt.  Heather Pregger says, "Resonance is my attempt to capture the rhythm of music in a pieced quilt." You can see and/or purchase her award-winning quilts at her website,

Color Addict by Frances Moore (Los Angeles, California)

We spotted Color Addict at the 2014 Road to California show. Frances Moore says, "My intent was to make a neutral/tan colored quilt that would highlight my machine quilting, but I just could not do it. My husband said, “That’s because you’re a color addict." He is so right.” The colorful pieced strips and circles really stand out against the neutral grays.

close up, Color Addict by Frances Moore

Frances Moore has been quilting for 16 years and teaching machine quilting for the last 9 years, and we admired her overall quilting design.  You can see many more examples at her blog, frantastic-stitchwitchery.

If you want to try improvisational piecing, there are many great books on the subject, including books by Jean Wells, Rayna Gillman and Gwen Marston:

Image credits:  Quilt photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.
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