Many quilters are invited to participate in exhibits and share our work with the public, either at quilt shows that include a variety of exhibits, or museums, events, or curated exhibits at various venues.
Today I am packing up and shipping “Rabbit in Green,” detail left, a 40” square silk two-color wholecloth quilt to Binghamton University in New York.
I look for stray threads, cat hair, loose stitches, then carefully fold it and cushion it with tissue, place it in its box, and send it on its way.
Two years ago at this exact time it was part of Gallery Night in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, where it won over all sorts of art fans who discovered modern machine quilting merged with a love of the past in my work. I was out of town at the time, but my husband proudly attended and answered questions about the quilt, me, my work, and the rabbit. It’s always nice to hear good things, but especially nice when a family member hears them!
This little quilt is special to me. When I made it I turned a corner in my quiltmaking and ventured into uncharted territory. For the first time I used all silk fabrics and thread, wool batt, and used a few art supplies to add just a hint of that subtle “something” to the green center section. This was the first time I had finished a quilt and then gone back and added more.
I realized I now approached a traditional quilt as a piece of art. It opened many possibilities for me. Freehand quilting many of the feathers and motifs rather than marking them also opened a door for my future quilting, a door which I have happily gone through.
Remember, as you create your quilt, whatever style it might be, you are the one in control. You choose the design, whether to mark it or wing it, the fabrics, color, contrast, threads, binding. Every choice you make reflects your artistic vision. Someone else could have added crystals or hand sewn beads to the top of this quilt and achieved an entirely different effect. Or added fancy binding with beading hanging down, intricate edging detail, fancy threads, oh so many wonderful options.
Another person would have quilted the designs with contrast thread, variegated or heavy embroidery weight thread. I chose this path and loved the process, as well as the result. I kept the effect subtle, as if part of the natural hills and valleys of the designs. Many viewers note the variety of thread colors, the play of light across the reflective silk, the richness of the colors, almost a patina of age.
Vintage, elegant, whimsical, beautiful. These are some of the adjectives I’ve heard used to describe this little quilt, and I love hearing them. But for me it will always be the fun spur-of-the-moment quilt that allowed me to be free in my quilting, throw in some new thread colors, create designs by the seat of my pants. It is the quilt that opened the door.
Safe travels, little silk quilt.
I hope many of you can see this exhibit and enjoy the splendid array of visual delights it will have, from contemporary, traditional, art. Titled “Full-Spectrum: Natural Fibers, Quilts, and the Textile Arts,” it runs from Sept. 10-Dec. 5 at Binghamton University Art Museum, NY. For more information: http://www.artmuseum.binghamton.edu/
Keep quilting! Your work gets better every day. Try something new today. Perhaps a door will open.