Quilt Gallery

Friday, March 20, 2015

QuiltCon 2015!

QuiltCon was in Austin again this year, bigger and better than in 2013.  There were more quilts, more classes, more vendors. It was particularly exciting to see the dramatic improvements in quilt design and workmanship compared to 2013.

I was fortunate to take several workshops, including ones on color theory by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. Weeks and Bill, two of the earliest "modern" quilters, are adept at working with the entire color spectrum. I will confess that the heavy use of aqua and orange in quilts shown at QuitCon is one of my pet peeves, as though using these two hues is a requirement if you want your quilt to be considered "modern." Anyway, if you have a chance to spend time with either Weeks or Bill, I highly encourage you to do so. They are energetic, cheerful, open-minded and graciously share their wisdom and insights.  Here are a few of my "take-aways."

Improvisational quilting doesn't mean thoughtless design or sloppy workmanship.  It may mean relaxing some "rules," or cutting and sewing without first having worked out every shape and every fabric. But it still requires that you work with intention and an idea of what you are trying to achieve if you want a dynamic and pleasing composition.

Practice some restraint in use of color. Limit use of color along one or more dimensions -- hue, saturation, or value -- to make your quilt visually stronger. As in photography, the story is often stronger and the message clearer if you put less in the frame.

If using a photo for inspiration, there is no need to replicate the photo.  You already have the photo. If the colors appeal to you, figure out why and use that to choose fabrics. I have been pondering my photos of dinghies from a trip to Massachusetts in 2013, wanting to somehow interpret them as quilts. I got myself stuck on the idea of a literal translation. Thanks to Bill for making me realize that I won't improve on the photo with that approach. Now I will simply use the photos to guide my color choices.

Photo as color inspiration

Too literal a translation is not effective here

Another take-away from their workshops was a more robust vocabulary with which to articulate the details that define a quilt. That has helped me to identify what I find appealing in a given quilt and will thus help me refine my own designs. With that knowledge, I think I am better able to communicate what it was about each of these quilts from the show that made me pause to give it greater consideration.

For example, I found this one interesting because even though it reads as green, there are actually many other hues in it: yellow, blue, orange, grey, and brown. I also like the little pops of floral fabrics that the maker sprinkled around.

"Fuzhou Fujian" by Patricia Lutteral

On this flower-themed piece I like the brave use of a very mod bright pink and blue floral, along with the curving lines. Gently curved lines of hand quilting, similar in scale and shape to the piecing, yet not simply an echo, add to the movement.

"Score for Bias Strip Petals: Daisy" by Sherri Lynn Wood

I enjoy the sheer exuberance of this piece, though on further reflection wonder if there isn't just a tad too much of the saturated pink in the border.

"Sunset Waves" by Laura Hartrich

"Quilt for our Bed" unquestionably has a clear message, though not just because it is literally spelled out. There is a restfulness in the muted colors appropriate for a quilt meant to be slept under and a gentle and comforting expression of love that would seem conducive to sweet dreams.

"Quilt for our Bed" by Laura Hartrich

"Rainbow Magic" is pure fun. I like the free use of various sizes of rectangles, rather than squares, and the unusual collection of fabric styles, all pulled together with a heavy dose of red and orange.

"Rainbow Magic" by Mollie McMahon (age 7)

"Las Ventanas" is fun because of its free-form piecing and vibrant due to its saturated colors, including the eye-popping slightly greenish yellow background.

"Las Ventanas" by Kristin Shields

"Refresh" is interesting because it combines traditional techniques, such as paper piecing, with a modern design elements, such as a large but incomplete star.

"Refresh" by Anna Beonish

Sadly for me, QuiltCon is moving to Pasadena, California, in 2016 and to Savannah, Georgia, in 2017.  By way of farewell to Austin, here is an evening photo looking north along Congress Avenue towards the Texas Capitol.

Good evening, Austin

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