As a comment on my post about painting fabric reminded me, lots of the tools used in art quilts have been around for a while. In fact, art quilts have been around for decades, and much excellent work done more than ten years ago seems to get overlooked now.
I was reintroduced to some older work in a book called Quilting Masterclass by Katharine Guerrier, published in 2000. A longtime fellow guild member gave this to me, with the notion that I was one of the few quilters she knew who might appreciate it.
Subtitled Inspirations and Techniques From The Experts, this book features one work each by 50 contemporary quilters, with discussions of techniques used in each quilt.
Here are the pieces that appealed to me especially.
30 Circles by Carol Schepps
All those randomly cut circles are fused, then quilted. Sound familiar?
Bird Study #4 by Joan Colvin
The nest is collaged with all sorts of fibers. The rock fabrics were folded and pressed to suggest fissures.
Ginkgo Biloba by Ruth McDowell
Ruth makes full sized templates and stitches the seams together. I believe she uses only commercial fabric.
Veiled by Pam Winsen
The artist made a collage from a picture of her mother’s wedding dress and photo transferred the collage onto tea dyed silk georgette. The pleats, folds, and embroidery enhance the fragile quality. Again, photo transfer techniques are still being used, though usually with more photo editing, thanks to wider availability of photo editing software home versions.
Umbrella Thorn Tree by Maurine Noble
This textile landscape painting uses a frame on three sides to define and extend the landscape into the distance.
Whirligig by Jane Lloyd
I’m including this (poorly photographed by me) piece because its wedge piecing approach is used by some modern quilters, such as Sherri Lynn Wood. A work by her is below. Created fabric, check; random curved strips, check; irregular edges, check.
I know many of the artists featured in Guerrier’s book still create. When I looked them up I found some continue to work in the same style while others have developed different approaches. And some, like Maurine Noble, are no longer with us.
Joan Colvin’s work continues to focus on nature. I can’t find any reliable information about Pam Winsen, who may now be a painter. Jane Lloyd has a piece in the 2015 Quilt National show. Carol Schepps still does circles, but works in many other series as well. And Ruth McDowell continues to use and teach her piecing technique, and use only commercial fabrics.
So, if you’re stuck for inspiration do yourself a favor and look to the past for some new ideas and approaches.