Joen Wolfrom’s Playing with Color: More Amazing Quilts from the Houston Quilt FestivalJoen Wolfrom | December 13, 2011
It’s a busy season and much of our energy and time are taken up this month with the holidays, family, special friends, and the celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah. So this is a good time to share a few more photos of quilts from the 2011 Houston Quilt Festival. No doubt, the actual quilts are more beautiful in real life than what you see in my informal snapshots. The colors shown may not be true to the quilt, but I think the quilts still look great. Enjoy!
Autumn Splendor by Noriko Endo from Tokyo, Japan
If you have been in the quilt scene for a few years, then you will be well aware of Noriko Endo’s glorious naturescapes. They are filled with exquisite textures, subtle colorings, and enticing imagery. Autumn Splendor fills the bill. It is amazing. Standing in front of this quilt brings you into the scene. The realism is extraordinary. This particular quilt really speaks to me, as it’s a scene reminiscent of many years of woodland walks. This original design is created with cotton, tulle, and luminescent fibers. If you would like to create your own woodland scenes filled with textures, or if you just want to be inspired by Noriko’s beautiful creations, consider purchasing her book Confetti Naturescapes.
Crested Barber by Barbara McKie
I had written in my notes that this little guy was created by Terri Gavin, as part of her John Jay winter park series, but then I realized Terri’s quilt looks quite different. So after a plea to viewers asking if they knew who created this delightful quilt, several people provided me with the answwer. Barbara McKie is the artist who created this wonderful work of art. She did a fabulous job with this bird’s detailing and coloring. He is such a bright contrast compared to the toned hues of the stone he is standing on and the background. What an amazing bird he is!
Now I love this little bird, but the first things that come to my mind because I am thinking winter is this: Why is this glorious bird sitting on a cold stone in the middle of winter when he should be lounging leisurely somewhere in the south? Did he not get the message as to when his flock was departing? Is he a perky individualist that thinks he can persevere through any situation and doesn’t realize what New York winters are like? Was he too lackadaisical to fly south? So many questions…..and no answers. All I can say is that I am shivering for him. (Of course, now that I know he wasn’t sitting on a rock at the John Jay Park, I can hope he is lounging in a bit warmer weather.)
Notice that this bird is looking right at you, the viewer. This is a very important detail when creating an artwork that features a bird or an animal. Eye contact is necessary for there to be a strong visual connection between bird and viewer. This little guy is such a charmer! Barbara McKie has many other amazing works of art on her website, so if this little bird pulls at your heartstrings, check out her website..
Rare Birds by Rachel Wetzler from St. Charles, Illinois
Speaking of birds, I couldn’t help pausing to enjoy this wonderful quilt. It’s made by Rachel Wetzler who is one of my favorite quilt artists. She is so versatile and talented. Not only does she do whimsy so well, but she creates stunning traditional and contemporary quilts too. BTW, Rachel has a blog that you will enjoy visiting: A Bit of Yellow.
Each of these birds represents a quilt personality within Rachel’s quilting group. Denise Havlan, a quilt artist who is inspired by Native American art, is found sitting atop the totem pole. Rachel, a lover of both yellow and sewing, is that cute little yellow bird balancing on her favorite pair of scissors. Then Annette Hendricks, a painter who loves purple, is the purple bird on top of the paint brush and palette. Beth Gilbert, nurse extraordinaire, talented contemporary quilt artist, and hostess with the most-est is ready for company with a pot of tea in hand, her purring cat, and her house warm and welcoming (Beth’s hospitality is noteworthy—I know, as I’ve stayed with Beth and her husband and it was wonderful). Ann Fahl, a lover of flowers and cats, is the bird with her kitty close at hand on top of a beautiful flower. The last bird represents the energetic Robbi Eklow, a talented quilter who is always ready to share yet one more story. What a clever quilt this is, celebrating friends. It’s a fun, beautifully executed quilt.
This original design uses fused applique, foundation piecing, painting, colored pencils, and machine quilting. Commerical and hand-dyed fabrics, WonderUnder Fusible, Hobbs Heirloom Premium 80/20 batting, fabric markers, pencils and paints were all used in this quilt.
Jan Mathews and Brandy Rice created this gorgeous quilt using Judy and Brad Niemeyer’s pattern Hawaiian Star. It was difficult to take a full picture of this quilt, so I have included a closeup (below). I think this was one of the most beautiful traditional quilts exhibited in the show. The colors are softly muted and the workmanship is exquisite. The quilt was made with paper foundation and micro machine quilting. Batik fabrics, silk and wool batting, and silk thread were used in this quilt. This is a beautiful interpretation of the Hawaiian Star pattern.
Close-up view of Fall ‘n Star by Jan Mathews and Brandy Rice
Since I love blue-violet, I am always attracted to quilts using the complements blue-violet and golden-yellow. Hence, I naturally gravitated toward Sunlit Circles. The stars are beautifully done and it was fun to see the variety of mariners’ compasses displayed in this quilt. I really enjoyed Ann’s color and value play. Ann stated that this design represents sunlight peeking through starry windows. It is paper-pieced and machine pieced.
Weeping Dorothea by Ann Harwell from Wendell, North Carolina
Ann Harwell’s Weeping Dorothea is a quilt honoring a 100-year old weeping cherry tree at the Dorothea Dix Hospital, which was founded in 1856. This was the first hospital in North Carolina dedicated to the treatment of mental illness. This tree sits on a hill overlooking downtown Raleigh. The hospital is currently being decommissioned, but Weeping Dorothea is alive and filled with a century of a multitude of life’s secrets. Weeping Dorothea was machine pieced and quilted.
Of Cabbage and Kings by Norma Schlager from Danbury, Connecticut
I was entralled when I saw Of Cabbages and Kings in the Houston IQA. It is stunning. Also, I was very delighted to see this was an original design created by Norma Schlager, a very talented quilt artist. In fact, two of her quilts, Fiesta and Blue Ginkgoes, are featured in my design book Adventures in Design.
Here’s Norma’s cabbage story: I went to an Emily Dickensen exhibit at the NY Botanical Gardens and took a picture of a cabbage in her vegetable garden. When I got home and saw it on my computer monitor, I knew it had to be a quilt. I toyed with the idea of doing it in applique with my hand dyes, but for some reason I thought I would try painting it. I took my photo to a copy shop and had it enlarged. Then I traced the outlines onto PFD fabric with a Sharpie and just painted away, using acrylic paints out of the tube, thinned with a little water. After the paint dried, the traced lines were still visible and I free-motion satin-stitched over them with several different shades of Sulky rayon thread.
Norma’s first cabbage quilt was juried into the New England Quilt Museum where it sold. Because Norma was so happy with the results of that quilt, she made another. This second one is the one exhibited at the IQA show. These were the first whole-cloth painted quilts that Norma has done. Great job, Norma!
Artichokes in Bloom by Andrea Brokenshire from Round Rock, Texas.
A show-stopper for me was Artichokes in Bloom by Andrea Brokenshire. This quilt is simply amazing. It was inspired by artichokes growing in a friend’s garden (Nina—beautiful artichokes!). Andrea used hand-painted silk, raw-edge applique, a confetti-style background, thread painting, and machine quilting. Her materials include 100% cotton fabrics, silk charmeuse, batiks, cotton batting, and rayon, polyester, and cotton threads. This quilt is so realistic, you feel as if you could reach in and touch the blossoms and petals. I have heard that the quilters from Round Rock are a wonderfully talented group, and by looking at Andrea’s quilt, I must agree. I LOVE this quilt!
Give Us Your Comments
I hope you loved seeing these quilts. There are such a variety of techniques and materials. It’s amazing how far the quilting world has come in the past forty years in expanding the use and look of a quilt.
Enjoy. If you have time, let us know which of these quilts inspire you to try a new challenges in 2012. See you next week.
Text and photography copyright © Joen Wolfrom
The copyright of the quilts shown in this post remains with those artists who created these works of art.
Joen is a color enthusiast who teaches and lectures on color. She has written three color books: Color Play, Visual Coloring, and The Magical Effects of Color. Her Studio Color Wheel is used to illustrate color concepts in many of these blog posts. She is also the designer of the 3-in-1 Color Tool. Her new book Adventures in Designis now available. Joen’s newest design tool, the Magic Design-Ratio Tool has just been released. All books and products are published by C & T Publishing.