Road to California-I

I started going to this show about 20 years ago, give or take a year or two, when it started out across the street in the Marriott hotel, so I know its history.  It was an offshoot from a local fabric shop and in those early years most of the displays were home-grown, local quilt artists and so you went to see people you know.  The woman who ran the show put on a good game, with lots of good vendors; she had a knack.

About 3 or 4 years ago (or so the scuttlebutt goes) she hired a new person to help her hang the show, run the displays, and since that time I’ve seen it tilt heavily to overly quilted quilts with lots of spangles and sparkles.  This year, I’d have to say that the show has hit a new low, and I started referring to it as Road to Las Vegas.  This is not to dismiss the workmanship of the quilts that were displayed.  The technical skill and stitch quality of the top prize-winning quilts cannot be disputed.  What can be disputed is whether I liked it, or the ladies next to me liked it, or if  using a million crystals (Swarovski or not) or ten miles of embroidery thread enhances a quilt or if I found the quilt show interesting, or inspirational, or motivational (as in: I want to make that quilt!).  Enough yakking.  Here goes.

The title of this is the Magical Mermaids Castle, [sic] by Claudia Pfeil from Germany.  The workmanship is exquisite, with quilting no more than 1/4″ apart, and embellished to within an inch of its life with those aforementioned 40,000 crystals.  Shimmer.  Shine.  Sparkle.

She obviously has spent a long time on this.

I turned off the flash so the quilting lines would stand out, so sorry that it’s blurry.  When I walked through with Cindy, from Live a Colorful Life (more on our meeting up, later), she had tried some of the crystal work and noted that it must have taken this quilter “hours and hours.”

The back.

Back, detail.  Obviously this quilt is about what you can do with a longarm, what you can do with embellishment.  I finally heard a term that described what these types of quilts are: “show quilts.”  That term came from a quilter, shown below, who was standing beside her quilt, talking about it, and she said she tried to make at least two “show quilts” a year.

It was hanging on a side aisle, the shot angle is a bit skewed (sorry).  The title is Witches Brew [sic] and it is a clever quilt, made by Cathy Wiggins from Macon, North Carolina.  In the accompanying sign, she tells the story of her quilt, plus adds “There is [sic] over 250 hours of hand-embroidery on the scroll.”  I liked how the scroll was like a hand-written recipe, with things crossed out and changed.

NOTE: I keep writing [sic], which means “this is how I found it in the original source.”  I don’t know whether it was the quilter, or the people who printed the signs, but there were lots and lots of typographical/grammar errors everywhere.

Witches Brew, detail

William and Tony’s Magical World is pieced and quilted by their mother, Kristen Vierra and it also shimmers and shines.

Magical World, detail

The Director’s Choice blue ribbon went to Sherrie Reynolds of Laramie Wyoming for her quilt America, Let It Shine.  An absolutely stunner of a quilt, I had her pose by it–she was there a lot, standing by her quilt like a proud Mama (and she should have been proud–it was beautiful).

This is the only shot I could get of the quilt without someone beside/in front of it.  It’s a simpler design in some ways, with a central medallion and detailed borders, but she also used embellishment extensively, as well as a tremendous amount of quilting.

Back of the quilt, held up by the white-gloved hostess.  This shows you the amount of quilting that was on it.

Border detail

Detail, word strip.  The sign reads “5121 Swarovski Crystals represent the words of the Constitution, Star Spangled Banner, Pledge of Allegiance and the age of America. The 13 colonies are represented by using 13 points on outer blue rays and red triangles. The 50 states are represented with the ring of 50 stars.”  And my favorite words of all; “free motion quilted on a Bernina 1001,” or a home-sewing machine.  So, no long-arm, but as you can see, she has a lot of skill in her FMQ.

I remember reading that this got high honors in Houston and it got high honors here as well.  It is heavily (and I mean HEAVILY) quilted with gilt and regular threads, with lots of embellishment.  I should point out that the award winners are at the front of the exhibition hall all in a row, with signs by each one, as they are in other shows.  So, I’m showing them in a cluster as well.

Detail, lower left corner

Backside of lower left corner, showing that there is more thread than fabric showing here.

Detail of the cherry blossoms–all done with thread.  So essentially this is a three-ply thread painting.  Whether or not you like it depends on your own sensibilities, but there is certainly a LOT of work in this quilt.  The title is Harmony Within, and it’s a tribute to marriage by Sue McCarty from Roy, Utah.  Below is another thread design, based on a photograph.

This is a depiction of a potter from the Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, as was her mother before her, and it titled Grace. It’s made by Jennifer Day, from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who printed the enlarged photograph on fabric and then went to town, quilting it and covering the face and hands with thread, using sixty-six colors and one-and-one-half miles of thread total.

Detail.  They put tape across each section of the display so it’s hard to get a full-on quality shot, but I think you can see how densely she “painted” with thread.  It’s remarkable how she was able to shade and color the face with all those threads.

Yes, those women really are striding into the scene of helping to put up a quilt show, somewhere in Australia.  She created the figures separately and they are attached to some black tulle netting for support.  Clever, I thought.  Titled Color Comes to the Back of Beyond, it was based on a painting by Pauline McPharlaine.  The makers are Pam Holland, Jan Munzberg, Pauline McPharlaine, and Jeanette Coombs (all from Aldgate, Australia) and was quilted by Pam Holland, the true heroine, for making the quilting integral to the quilt.  I stood at found detail after detail, in this not-so-large quilt.

At first I thought those were dropped glass-headed pins, but they were in other places in the quilt as well, so I decided they must be itty-bitty flowers.  Do you like thread-painted quilts?  The jury is still out for me, but I did like this one.  What you can’t see very well is the texture of this quilt–it really has a lovely quality to it that makes you want to touch it (I didn’t!).

Two more Big Fancy Quilts, then more in the next post.

Deruta, by Suzanne Marshall of Clayton, Missouri. She notes that Deruta is a town in Italy well-known for its hand-painted pottery (yep–I’ve been there!), and that her quilt was inspired by some plates she has with beasts on them.

What’s hard to see about this in the photographs is that she apparently has couched a thicker thread all along the edges of her applique pieces, giving them a harder edge.  Quite remarkable technique and skill.

Calling all you hexie lovers!!  Cheryl See of Ashburn Virginia has made a quilt for you to emulate!  Titled Star Struck, it has 12, 256 hand-pieced hexagons in this quilt. It was stunning, as you can see.  Here are some detailed photos (below):

What’s interesting also is how she used the printed fabric hexies to blend and smooth to the solid-fabric hexagons, which act as borders and as outlines.  And guess what?  No sparkles anywhere!  You CAN make a quilt without quilting it to death or turning it into a Las Vegas Showgirl! More, next time.

10 thoughts on “Road to California-I

  1. I call quilts that are heavy with thread, THREADY! Not that they are not beautiful in their way. Just Not my cup of tea. Thanks so much for posting. I have enjoyed this quilt show experience by proxy.

  2. [Speechless]. !!!

    Whoa. That’s some serious quilting. It’s almost like making pinch pot ashtrays and then looking over your shoulder to see Michelangelo and blowing the dust off his chisel, standing by the David… I will choose to be inspired rather than intimidated. 🙂

  3. Thanks Elizabeth, I enjoyed seeing the quilts. “Bling” was the keyword for winners at Houston this year too. I find it interesting that so many of the prizewinning quilts show up at so many different shows. It seems to be a business for the winners, and the rest of us lifelong quilters just go to see what they have come up with each year. I’ve been a “quilt angel” in Houston the last few years, and so I got to hear a lot of comments from quilt viewers. It seems that a lot of the quilts are more intimidating then inspirational to a lot of quilters. I had a quilt juried into Houston two years ago, it was titled “I’d like to teach the world to quilt in perfect harmony”. It had little quilts holding hands across the globe. It just smiled on the wall hanging amidst all these “thousands of work hour” quilts, wondering how it got there. I think we all need to just enjoy the art and hard work of all the quilters, and know that we all have our favorites that we would like to emulate. For me, the favorite quilts that I’ve made have been given to soldiers returning from Iraq, families in shelters or given to new babies, family and loved ones.

  4. Oh wow, I can only imagine what those “show” quilts must have looked like up close in real life. Glad you were well enough to go see the show, and to meet up with a bloggy buddy! I hate that “not in the mood” feeling, though. Like when there’s a massively insane sale going on at your favorite clothing store and you just don’t have it in you to dig through racks or try anything on. LOVE the hexie quilt, there is kind of a molecular look to those details around the star points. I’m vacationing at my sister’s in Phoenix and I’ve now got 30+ hexie flowers completed. I’m loving hand sewing so so much.

  5. Pingback: Road to California–part I | OccasionalPiece–Quilt!

  6. You are giving such a wonderful review of the quilt show. So I think I will just link back to you when I do my post, because the only pictures I took were on my phone! Plus the fact that you have written the same thing I would written–only you do it much better!

    And I really liked Citric Sugar’s comment.

  7. I agree that show quilting has gone to a whole different level, but I think that it is worth mentioning that the “bling” quilts you are showing were designed for the art or non-traditional innovative quilting categories. They were specifically not made as traditional quilts and as such really can’t be compared to them.

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