Tuesday, February 27, 2018

QuiltCon 2018: The Main Event!

In my last installment, I tackled the shopping and the charity quilts at Quiltcon 2018. Now it's time for the main event!

 I spent much of yesterday writing this report. I believe there were 500 quilts in the show. I took about 600 photos, and the prospect of paring them down for this blog post terrified me! So the following report comes with the following disclaimers:
  • I can't say that these quilts are my absolute favorites - they're the quilts I loved and happened to fulfill the impulse to snap a picture! I walked around the show in a total state of overwhelm, plus I was discussing things with friends, so many quilts I missed entirely. Truly, I loved them all, like my children, all for different reasons.
  • Photos of all the QuiltCon award winners are posted by the Modern Quilt Guild here, so I won't show them again unless absolutely necessary.
  • I saw a few political quilts at QuiltCon 2016; two years later, there are many more, including ones that look completely abstract, and I didn't realize they were making a statement until I got home and read the labels I photographed. If I can generalize: A lot of modern quilters are working through a lot of ideas about what's happening in the country, and how they can take positive action.
My apologies if your quilt isn't here and you wish it were; or if your quilt is here and you wish it weren't. In the latter case I will take it down immediately (email me at cathy.perlmutter@gmail.com). I welcome corrections, clarifications, etc.

With all that said, here are just a few of the many quilts that grabbed me and/or my camera....

When I walked into the exhibit hall, one of the first things I saw was this was this huge quilt.
And it turns out that it's a RAFFLE quilt! If I'd made it, I'd never let it out of my sight. It's a friggin' masterpiece, designed and pieced by Hillary Goodwin of Auburn, CA, quilted by Rachael Dorr. Hillary's statement says it's a "modern minimalist take on the classic log cabin and inset circle piecing. The piece is a testament to the power of design, piecing and quilting collaboration." The microquilting is superhuman.
Right near it was another gorgeous prizewinner - "Happy Dance" by Sandra Kaye of Jacksonville, Florida: (it won 'Best Machine Quilting'). I used it to direct people where my quilt was hanging....
 ....slightly to to the right, way back there! (closer view in this earlier blog post). I felt that the  proximity to the winners rubbed some of their glory off on me!
I will confess that I spent much of my time at the show ruthlessly propping friends in front of it and taking their pictures. 
Sunday was also my birthday.  I was so excited I was visibly vibrating.

Nearby, also in the small quilts category, was "What Apple?" by Krista Hennebury of North Vancouver, Canada, made from class demos she created when teaching improvisational piecing.
Neither Krista nor I, nor other people with similar quilts were spying on each other with our sewing machine circuitry or microwave ovens. There are are only so many ways you can chop up and rearrange squares! I don't have even a clue to how the judges picked from so many similar (yet distinctive) improv quilts!

"Shine a Light," was also made by Hillary Goodwin, who made the raffle quilt. Moon over the Mountain is a traditional quilt pattern that I've always loved, and Hillary made unusual color choices; her statement explained that she made it in resolution to take positive action after the divisive election.
Next, "The Blue Room" by Juli Smith of Valley Village, California. "A photograph I took in Thailand of looking up at a window really caught my modern quilter's eye, but I wanted to simplify and abstract it. This is where I landed!"
Juli had another moving pieced quilt in the show: B4U. I saw a mom lovingly pointing out all the fours to her young child, but Juli's intention was adult. She wrote, "B4U Hate was hiding, but LOVE will prevail. In memory of Heather Heyer, and all those who have lost their lives while fighting against hate and intolerance." 
Next, "Ode to Thiebaud," by Lori Mapes of Liberty Lake, Washington State. "I am drawn to Wayne Thiebaud's colorful repeating images of everyday pastries" She developed the paper piecing pattern. 
Here's "Bending Petal" by Karen Lee of Happy Valley, Oregon. "I started this piece in Stefanie Ruyle's class ....the thin orange branches which go out from the stem are 1/16th inch thick inset seams." 
"Opposites" is a wall quilt by Katherine Jones of Tasmania, Australia: 
She writes, "exploring the idea of small and large piecing, warm and cool colours,  I made over 700 one inch by two inch geese , then joined these to form partial very large geese....I created shadow geese flying in the opposite direction...." This was part of the American Patchwork and Quilting Flying Geese Quilt Challenge.  

And speaking of oranges and rusts, the vivid color in this quilt was like getting my back scratched. It's "Pencil Us In," by Debra Jalbert of Clermont, Florida. "This quilt was made for my friend Lori who is getting married in March... It is leftover pieces from a class that I sliced apart and reconfigured." 
"Kapow" by Marilyn Lone of Woodinvill, Washington started as a Japanese-style papercut, which she then translated into fabric.
After reviewing my pictures, I noticed that I really was drawn to the circular designs. Sarah Hibbert, from the UK, made this gorgeous piece titled "Macaroons," quilted by Christine Perrigo of Denver. I met Sarah in the line to pick up our quilts after the show, and she is as delightful as this quilt. My photo doesn't do it justice. 
Detail. (The black is very dark black, except in my pictures.)
Below, "Overlay" by Cassandra Beaver of Urbana, Ohio. It's a traditional flock of geese pattern interrupted by floating circles.
"Clambake" by Heather Black of Spokane, Washington, is pieced. "...This design came out of nowhere and fell into place," she wrote. 
The lively "Infinite IV" (with an accent over the 'e') is in the Improvisation category. It was made by Sophie Zaugg of Le Sentier, Switzerland, who writes, "This quilt is the last of a series of four quilts, each circle representing a day of the year." Hand appliqued and machine pieced. 
There were some wonderful ombre effects - some hand dyed, some commercial cottons. "Shining Through," by Di Jobbins of New South Wales, Australia, was one. "Inspired by the traditional Cathedral Windows pattern, I appliqued, by machine and hand, over 500 dimensional diamonds in varying shades of grey-on-grey. My goal was to create the effect of light softly kissing a decorative metallic surface, with my favorite jewel colours glowing through scattered portholes." 
"Clinging to the Edge," in the Improvisation category, was made by Irene Roderick of Austen, Texas. It's one in a series of whimsical and cheerful quilts, "meant to remind me how to play again. " 
The next quilt, "Sacred Heart," was made by one of my new quilt world idols, Christina Cameli (her Wild Quilting class on Craftsy class improved both my quilting and my self esteem, no affiliation): 
She writes, "The center of this quilt features a block improvised by my grandmother on a day we were sewing together. After her death I was moved to make this quilt. It is a visual story about how one woman influenced the world around her, and how her influence continues after her." 

As part of a Michael Miller fabric challenge, Cheryl Brickey of Greer, South Carolina made this piece she calls "Pop Rocks." It began "as a minimalist Dresden Plate design which morphed into its final version, which was made using templates and curved piecing."
In the Modern Traditionalism category, Krista Hennebury (who made the third quilt from the top of this post), also made "Pop Stars," quilted by Carol Chernov of Twin Creek Quilts. Krista's been experimenting with improvisation, and "the 8-pointed star has long been on my make list. Combining improv units with background triangles cut from Nancy Zieman templates allowed me to piece this quilt without Y-seams." (Given that the sewing world lost Nancy Zieman so recently, it was nice to see her name at the show.)
Here are some colors I might never have chosen, but Annmarie Cowley from Hillsboro, Oregon is more courageous, plus she took cues from fabric manufacturers. It's called "'Waynesboro Cherry Wreath' Gone Modern." "Using skills familiar to me, as well as a circle template, I recreated an embroidered, hand-appliqued family heirloom into this modern version. I chose the Pantone Color of the Year, 'Greenery', for the leaves, and the Kona Color of the Year, 'Flamingo,' for the background." 
"12 Shades of ?" is the name of the next quilt, in the Applique category, made by Pat Forster of Mount Pleasant, Australia. "Twelve shades of autumn, persimmon, marigold?" she writes. "I'll choose marigold because the shades and motifs remind me of marigolds in my father's garden. The motif was inspired by the 7 Dragon fractal at fractalcurves.com. Paper-pieced hexagons, appliqued to blocks based on the Drunkards path block." My friend and I thought it looked like petri dishes. 
Flattened circles are featured in "Train Track Pennies" by Laura Hartrich of Oak Park, Illinois. It was "constructed with my grandma's clothes and inspired by pennies we used to flatten on the train tracks behind her house and featuring shorthand symbols that list the attributes I admired in my grandma, this is a memory quilt that has several layers of meaning." 
The next piece, in the Improvisation category, is the gorgeous "Configuration: Kasuri with Five Lines," by Julie Haddrick of Adelaide, Australia. "Interest in Japanese kasuri fabrics inspired this piece, and the linear curves and figure ground relationships in the quilt interacts with a vast selection of fabrics." Another inspiration for her is the work of Nancy Crow.
The second time I walked through the Modern Traditionalism category, I looked up in the sky and saw this: 
It's "Wedding Rings and Crossroads" by Kathy York, a fantastic fiber artist. The keen-eyed white glove volunteer saw me taking the picture... 
...and pulled back the corner! Wow!
Also up in the sky was the gigantic "Six Pairs of Pants," by renowned artist and teacher Sheri Lynn Wood of Oakland, CA. 
It was one of several not-conventionally-beautiful quilts which, Sherri explained, were "scavenged from the Public Disposal and Recycle Area at Recology San Francisco, from June-September 2016. During my four-month residency, I explored the concept of 'making do' as a receptive creative strategy for life after systems collapse. In this series of quilts I allowed the shapes of the garments to be expressed, resulting in works of unusual geometric abstraction that are simultaneously suggestive of the human body." Find Sherri's workshop on this topic and many more, here. (I want to take them all.) 

In the minimalist design category, I found a provocative quilt by another well-known quilter and author, Jacquie Gering of Kansas City, Missouri, one of the founders of the modern quilt movement. 
"'Veer' expresses my concern over the direction my country is going in," she writes, "...it also confirms my commitment to political and community action, and to be part of the solution." 

"Hiss" by Sarah Sharp of Carmel, Indiana had a one-sentence description: "If you're going to throw a snake on the bed, might as well make it a nice one." 
"Fireflies," by Sarah sharp of Carmel, Indiana, pieced by Rachael Dorr (the same longarmer who did the raffle quilt at the top of this post)  is paper pieced. 
Maybe because my profession is writing, I was moved to take pictures of many of the quilts with words on them. These are just a few. First, a machine-pieced quilt by Lysa Flower of Maple Ridge, Canada is devastatingly described in a short phrase: "One big note to self." 
"Strong Tradition" is by Alison Chambers and Emily Robbins of San Antonio Texas. They write,"We wanted to honor the women who taught us to quilt, to fight, and those who have used quilting to fight against injustices. We designed letters that could be pieced, thereby keeping with the custom of traditional pieced quilts. We sewed this quilt side by side, in homage to the tradition of women gathering to quilt together...."
"Good Luck," by Jessica Wohl of Tennessee, is made from shirts, sheets, clothes and tulle. 
Inspired by an essay by TaNehisi Coats, it's a reflection on how some Americans are prevented from achieving the American dream, with a white picket fence. 

Next, "She Was Warned" by Liz Havartine of  Burbank, CA, was inspired by Elizabeth Warren "and all the other women who stand up and fight." 
Here's Chawne Kimber's "Get Woke." I was introduced to Chawne's brilliant work at QuiltCon 2016. Chawne is a quilt teacher as well as a college math professor in Easton, PA. "This quilt is a reaction to and encouragement of the current social wakening in the US," she wrote. The hand stitching is inspired by Alabama Channin, "yet transforms the idea with more layers and to bring depth to the work." 

"Feminist quilt." in the Applique category by Darci Read of  West St. Paul, MN, came from a 1995 Hillary Clinton quotation. Darci made the quilt to carry at the January 2017 women's march.  "Quilts and sewing have been a comfort to me, so I had to make a quilt for the march because I REALLY felt terrible. (Plus I don't know how to knit, so a pussy hat was out). As I walked, I gained strength. I felt the strength of the women and men and children and families that were marching with....Stay Loud!"
In a similar vein, there's "Ms. Conceived" by Miriam Coffey of Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. In the Negative Space category (very ironically), this quilt  - which can't be read from a distance - says, "The Feminist Word." 
Miriam writes, "Feminism - too often is regarded as the other 'F' word. In current society, the meaning has been misconstrued and contorted to be a dirty word or even used as an insult. This quilt celebrates the fight and continual need to stand up for what is right...[and]what it means to be a Feminist - a proud human fighting for equality, opportunity, and autonomy for all." It's machine appliqued. 

"White America" by Jessical Wohl of Sewanee, TN,"calls into question the whiteness of our country and its relationship to who speaks and who listens, or who needs to speak and who needs to listen...Using reverse applique, the text cuts into the layer of white, like a skin revealing a blanket of red, a wound or bodily cut, addressing the physical trauma our country is enduring. The 'blue' section of the flag is comprised exclusively of men's business shirts, incorporating notions of labor, collared workers (white and blue) classism and capitalism."
In the Youth category, here's the witty "Twitter Tantrums" by Carina Cabriales of Antioch, CA, one of several Social Justice Sewing Academy projects. 
"The Here There and Elsewhere Bee" by Andrea Tsang Jackson, of Halifax, Canada, is a graph - a compilation of data from the immigration histories of 1197 visitors to the Canadian Museum of Immigration. (Read more about it here.) Whoops, it's also a prizewinner.
"Stand Together" by Sara Guidry of Shawnee, Kansas, is a small quilt that asks you to "put yourself in the position of a World War I soldier lined up to fight....Each red poppy represents a million WWI soldiers killed. Inspired by the World War I Museum in Kansas, and art by Paul Sunderland called "Bridge over a Field of Poppies."

And finally, the Modern Quilt world did not come out of nowhere. The path was forged by many daring artists, particularly African-American quilters (Gee's Bend, of course), and many pioneering  art quilters. The quilt world lost one of those people in 2016: Yvonne Porcella, founder of the Studio Art Quilters Association, whose colorful quilts conveyed so much joy. One of the exhibits in the main hall was "SAQA Presents: Modern Inspirations - Art Quilts from the 1970s through Today." Among the many fantastic quilts, it was very moving to see a Porcella original, "Razzle Dazzle,"which she made in 1981. Her books are still widely available, and she left behind an extraordinary body of work, which you can browse on her website, here
Here's Yvonne. 
And there we have it - fewer than 8% of the quilts in the show. There is so much more I'm not describing here - like the awesome retrospective of quilts by Carolyn Friedlander (a video of the exhibit is here, and more on Friedlander's website here.) You're just going to have to come to the next QuiltCon yourself!

My thanks to the Modern Quilt Guild, to the Los Angeles Chapter and all the members who worked so hard to set up and run such a complicated, wonderful, rich convention, and also to locate it in the town next to me. I am beyond grateful.

Related links in my blog:
Also, many more political quilts at http://www.unitedwequilt.com/.


  1. Cathy- Happy Birthday!
    this so wonderful, thanks you- I wish I could have gone- maybe next year! Overwhelming- I will have to absorb this post after re-reading it several times.
    Happy stitching 💕💕roberta

  2. What a marvelous post and a fantastic show! it was overwhelming, and beautiful and exciting, and especially wondrous to see it with you!! Happy Birthday!!

    1. You made it even more fantastic, Jeri. See you in the same place, in two years(and hopefully sooner!)


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