Since Quilt National is held every other year, each show gives me a better reading on techniques and approaches many art quilters are using than blog posts and monthly newsletters can. Sometimes a technique may be an ephemeral fad or a way to market a product.
Here are some recurring themes and approaches I noticed at the 2015 show.
Quilts made as separate panels. Some had two panels; others had up to five. On a practical level, this makes the mechanics of quilting easier, though it creates a lot more edges to finish. This exquisite work by Deidre Adams has many layers, including paper, that have been peeled off to make holes.
Lots of big stitch handwork done with thin thread, possibly silk, as in Jeanne Gray’s Season’s End. I immediately thought of locust tree seed pods.
Hand dyed, altered, painted, etc., fabrics. I saw discharge, resist printing, painting and even spackling used. Here’s Bonnie Buckman’s gorgeous hand dyed Estuary.
Less digital imagery. A few quilts used digital photographs, and some featured thread painting of such photos. Liquid Sunset by Charlotte Ziebarth uses an altered digitally photo (second photo below) in a way that doesn’t scream digital photo.
Less elaborate free motion quilting. That said, one of my favorite pieces, Insomnia, His and Hers, by Paula Kovarick, consisted of nothing but free motion quilting. However, it was used as a drawing tool, not as a means to create dense texture. Here is one of the two parts of this entry.
Reuse of old fabrics. Jane Dunnewold used an old, torn, grandmother’s flower garden quilt as the starting point for Grandmother’s Flower Garden I. She also used spackling.
Raw edges used as a design feature. Elena Stokes didn’t finish the edges of Infinity, but just cut off the strips.
Here’s another piece that features raw edges, Kit Vincent’s Chaos 3, and a detail from it.
Detail of above piece.
Tiny piecing. Maria Shell sorted oodles of tiny scraps to make To Agnes Martin, With Color. I wish I had a ruler to show you how small these squares are.
More organic shapes in quilt edges as in Ghost Trees #3 by Karen Tunnell.
Every viewer will have a different selection of quilts they would feature, but I wanted to give you some idea of the range of approaches possible with art quilts. It was eye opening to see how artists used different techniques to enhance their designs rather than be their designs.With one exception, I could find something to admire in each entry.
I realize that the jurors’ tastes affect each show’s selection. That said, I found the work in this show to be much stronger than that in the 2013 show.