This was my tenth appearance at the Road to California Quilt Show, held in Ontario California. I have entered in the past, but haven’t since grad school, lacking either the time or the interest.
But there’s also this nagging suspicion that my quilts may not measure up, given the direction that quilting seems to be going. So when I come to the show, I come with a critical eye, trying to identify trends. Or fads (such as crystals). One trend is in the quilting. Not just the single line of thread tracing around a patch or creating a feather, but Quilting As The Star.
Fire and Ice, by Claudia Pfeil of Krefeld, Germany.
This quilt typifies that, with its narrowly spaced lines of thread (don’t even get me started on why we quilters need to use certain types of thread), decorative jewels, sequins, crystals adding to the main pieced design. There are quilted flames shooting off the appliqued fabric flames, and tightly scrolled quilting suppressing certain areas of the quilt in order to create a sort of trapunto effect. The whole quilt is layer upon layer on texture, color, design.
While I think the above quilt is beautiful, I think this trend has gotten out of hand. In the early 1990s I entered a large bed-sized quilt (quilts are not identified anymore as “bed quilts,” that idea having faded as it seems the main thrust of quilting now is about art, design and its decorative function); this quilt was evaluated by a team of three judges as it was a juried show. No noticeable faults with my piecing or design, but one judge scrawled, “Not enough quilting.”
I think that was the year that two quilts were exhibited at the back of the hall, covered in heavily quilted design and crystals for accent. Multi-colored threads outlined feathers, swirls, circles, and a dragon (if I remember correctly). We were in awe. We all had a crush on this new boy in town. Now the heavily quilted are at the front of the hall, strutting their stuff and this influence has had some unfortunate effects, I think. Case in point is the quilt below.
In this first picture, the appliquéd vases and flowers of baskets have the full stage, but upon closer (blurry, my apologies) inspection–
Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, by Cheryl Spalding of Portland, Oregon; Quilted by Karen Saltzberg
The quilting really works in this quilt, and it is used to bring out the texture of the turtle and the motion of the water. The quilting complements what is going on in the design, instead of competing or obscuring it.
Here are some that caught my (untrained) eye.
Pup Art, by Nancy S. Brown of Oakland, California
Christmas Chickadee, by David M. Taylor of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The inclusion of the Christmas tree light elevates it from a simple nature scene into a conversation.
A Summer Parade, by Joanell Connolly of Huntington Beach, California
The Moment of Inspiration, by Sandy Curran of Newport News, Virginia. Hitchcock keeping an eye on these birds was what pulled me in, but I also liked the reference to the film by the inclusion of “sprocket holes” on the side of the quilt.
Memories of Monet, by Joen Wolfrom
Joen Wolfrom’s quilt works well on so many levels. It’s the first I’ve seen of hers in many years. She’d stopped quilting for a while when her hand was injured in a dog attack.
Colors Unfurled, aka, If Betsy Ross Had My Stash, by Maria C. Shell of Anchorage, Alaska
Great use of quilting blocks and traditional motifs to create a flag. Depictions of the flag in red, white and blue are found a lot at quilt shows (we’re a patriotic bunch, I guess) but this one, with its brights and bolds was a real stunner. It’s huge, probably 9 feet long by 5 feet tall.
Love the paper doll blocks, swimming fish, flags–this quilt has everything!
Betsy Ross Never Imagined This, by Nancy McLerran of Santa Rosa, California. A crazy-quilt version of the flag. This is a new idea as well, as most depictions are traditionally pieced.
Play Dead (Guns Kill Children), by Janice Pennington of San Diego, California; Quilted by Laurie Daniells.
Nostalgic fabrics, reproductions of designs from earlier days, are used in a quilt that makes a statement against handgun violence.
Enjoy these for now. I’ll try to get a few more posted later.