I am posting my experiences at the recent European Patchwork Meeting, held in a series of four small towns in the Alsace region of France. The town of Saint Marie-aux-Mines, the main venue, had many places to find quilts:
The poster above links to the numbers in the map. Once we left the L’Espace Commercial, we walked across the street to the Theater, where two sets of quilts curated by two different women provided a study in contrasts.
One set of quilts, by collector Mary Koval, was exhibited on the ground floor of a beautifully restored old theater, which you can just see from around the edges of some of my photos. This set of quilts were all American antique quilts.
The other woman (from France) is Lea Stansal, who mounted a one-woman exhibit titled La Broderie d’embellissement, which can be roughly translated to The Embroidery of Embellishment. Her biographical statement from her blog (which I used Google Translate to read) says:
“Trained at Met Penningen’s Higher School of Decorative Arts and Interior Architecture.After twenty years in the world of fashion as a textile designer, Léa Stansal decides to explore and deepen more traditional aspects such as patchwork and embroidery.
“Since then, with a thread and a needle, she has created a poetic and original work, which is widely exhibited in the world and has given rise to the publication of half a dozen books of art.”
None of these are titled, and it flattens them out to put them on this digital medium; I wish you could have seen them in person. They were wild and embroidered and free and filled with a happiness of creativity. I think if I could spend 10 minutes in her studio, I’d break all those Rules of Quilting that I carry around inside me.
I kept thinking about how the Pied Piper had charmed all the little tin soldiers. Was this a statement about war? About peace? I’ll never know, but I’m still thinking about it.
Detail from above. The layers! The collage! The broderie perse! I kept sighing.
I love how the deer and its antlers are in this piece, but not in the static, overused version we see in America. Shall we turn some quilts on their heads?
My husband, who loves symmetry in all its forms kept sighing, too, as he admitted that this just wasn’t his type of quilting. Mine, neither, but I kept admiring that freedom to create, a freedom that was a delicious anarchy of cloth and threads.
We headed downstairs to Mary Koval’s antique quilts, in an exhibit titled “Piece by piece, our life with quilts.”
I had carefully included the identifying titles in my photos, but back home, found I couldn’t read them most of them. The quilts range from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.
Pickle Dish quilt, from the 1920s.
I liked the juxtaposition of these two–the orange-clad guard and the riotous early-American quilt.
I liked the embroidery detail on this little Uncle Sam. a quilt from the 1920s.
One of my favorites of the antiques because of its exuberance. The name “Rev. and Mrs. (?) S. Harvey” is on the first line, with “Park Methodist Episcopal Church” on the second. “Circle No. 5 1937” on the third line.
Made from silks.
We weren’t allowed to touch the quilts (of course!) so I held my hand up to show how tiny those triangles are. This quilt is from Berks County, Pennsylvania, but I don’t have a date.
I’m sure all these quilts are from their new book. Info can be found on their website.
Now we were hungry, so we found this little “cafe” in the back of the theater, with fabulously dressed servers.
Although the flowers were pretty tired, I loved the attempt at patchwork on the vase, with bits of cloth glued to the glass.
And this, folks, was the traditional Alsace salad with bretzel (with a “b”). My husband ordered this, but I went mainstream with the ham sandwich (below). They were doing an active business, so we hurried and ate and went back out hunting quilts.
How’s that for a title? This post is all about the official competition of the Patchwork Meeting, and I have a sampling of the quilts in the contest. I purchased the Catalogue from the organizers and it was interesting that it is printed in three languages: French, German and English (yippee!). The contest theme this year was “Journey to the End of the World” and all the quilts were to be 35″ wide by 47″ inches tall. This was the first indication that it would be a different type of competition than I had been used to seeing in the States.
I realized quickly that this would represent all different nationalities, cultures, countries, skill levels (generally really high) and all types of construction. I chose to notice not only their interpretation of the theme, but also the how and the why they chose to use the materials and techniques they did, always hoping to learn something new. These quilts are in no particular order. You can note the winners by the small rosettes in the lower right corner.
Tatiana Varshavskaya’s In the Beginning. She is from Hungary.
Her artist’s statement wrote from the perspective on a three-year old, with “continents to conquer, horizons to overcome. Free, without anchors or restraints, you venture forever in the infinity of childhood’s imagination.” She finishes by writing “You are three years old, and sail to the unknown with a paper boat.”
Small Boat, Small Trip, by Sandra Van Velzen of The Netherlands. She writes “Not so long ago the length of your trip depended on the size of your means of transport. Nowadays planes and the internet seem to make the world smaller and the trip longer.”
Gabriele Yoeller, from Germany, created Finistere evoking “France, Bretange…where the sun goes down and the land ends. Even the Romans called this land: ‘Finis terrae.’ Before you: only water. Is there something else? New worlds…or a monster?”
A quilter from Spain, Eva Arrelano Martin created Into the Deep, an “homage to the effort of thousands of workers who spent and sometimes lost their lives in the their trip into the [great cavity] of the world.”
Two Americans, Jim Smith & Andy Brunhammer made “June 19th,” celebrating Andy’s birthday Their artists’ statement notes that “We are both long-term HIV-survivors, and our end of the world has always been just around the corner. We chose Kaieteur Falls in Guyana [where Jim’s father grew up] as the background. . . Our arm is reaching out with the cascading red ribbon symbolizing the flow or our blood. The clusters of pills are our life-force.”
Esodo, by Angela Minaudo of Italy says that “The work represents the journey of those who run from the land in search of a better life, towards other lands, other worlds, towards the end of their world and often toward the end of their lives.” Esodo means “exodus.”
A Japanese quilter, Chiaki Yagishita, made Japon. Her statement read “I think ‘creation’ and ‘infinity’ equals ‘silence.’ There is ‘silence’ in Japan and it is beautiful. This work expresses ‘Japanese blue’ [or] ‘the silent world.’ ”
Anneliese Jaros, from Austria made 101 Views of Vesuvius (my translation of her title). She wrote that she loves the Gulf of Naples, and Mt. Vesuvius. “The eruptions of the volcano in the course of history have been the end of the world to many…Parts of the letters [by Pliny the Younger] describing the eruptions are printed in Latin on cotton, which are then overlaid by my own photos of contemporary views of the mountain.” I tried to capture the detail of the overlay, below.
Au pays des atomes translates to “In the Country of Atoms,” and is a quilt by French quilter Françoise Buzzi-Morel. She write that atoms “are able to reach the end of the world…beyond any human limits. And in one precise order, they geometrically follow parallels, cubes, circles and lines.”
Another French quilter, Eriko Krzyzaniak, made Emmenez-moi au pays des merveilles, or “Take me to Wonderland.” The colors of blue and gold were inspired by the icon of the Virgen Rynecka in the Church of Our Lady in Prague. “The drawing,” she writes, “was inspired but the poetry “The Little Flute Player,” by G. Brassens. It was the starting point of my ‘Wonderland.’ ”
I snapped two more photos showing the detail of her work (below).
Rita Dijkstra, from The Netherlands, did a rendition of Mount Fitz Roy (her title). She describes it for us: “The road on the quilt leads to Mount Fitz Roy on the border of Argentina and Chile (Patagonia)….For me Patagonia stands for the end of the world. The only way you can travel more south from this point, is by taking a boat to the South Pole.”
No return was made by Anne Lillhom, from The Netherlands. She writes “From birth to death, we go through different stages. We have good and less good things happening in life, days with more colors and days with less colors. We have periods in life where life goes up and days where it goes down…Nobody knows what the life journey will bring us, the only that is for sure is….there is NO RETURN. We simply have to follow the path.”
Michèle Samter of Switzerland made Excitement of a big city, her tribute to Singapore. She writes that “The vibrating performance of all the lights in different colors from high-rise buildings and traffic all night long evokes [a] feeling [of having been to the end of the world]….The contrast between my home in Switzerland and this other city, which never seems to sleep, had a great impact on me.”
Incredible Voyage to the End of the World is by Dalia Eliraz, who is from Israel. She writes: “The Arctic tern’s [long] trip from Arctic to Antarctic and back is the furthest animal migration. Over 30 years, it will travel the equivalent of 3 roundtrips from Earth to Moon. My quilt is inspired by this super-migration bird, as a metaphor of human behavior [when] motivated by determination to achieve a life goal or purpose….whether it is love, academic ambition, artistic aspirations or nesting…”
Dreamland, by Elly Van Steebeek (from the Netherlands)
She writes: “There is a place, [far] from home with a beautiful blue sky, singing birds, flowing rivers and dark rocks. And after a spectacular sunset there is total darkness, only a whispering wind and the sound of the busy. This is the land of my dreams!”
This is Edith Leidi, from Italy, and I was so excited to meet her, I forgot to take a photo of the complete quilt. The title is Stargate. What’s next? and I loved what she wrote: “My idea was born in the swimming pool. I was watching my husband’s hand diving in the water, so I created my stargate. The hand passes through it while the body remains on the other side. There is another hand in the universe, that is going to meet the first one. But…from where does it come?”
Gabrielle Paquin from France (who also had her own exhibit at the Patchwork Meeting) created Voyage en orbite. She says “The Earth [has] become too little for its population. It is necessary to find some exits in Space….we must in a future time go away for a journey…tempory of definitively.”
This quilt was on the front of their brochure for the Meeting, so we saw it everywhere. Chang Misun, of South Korea, created Pieces of memories. She says: “I think my way of life is like an endless trip. Pieces of past life and future life come together…[some] especially clear and some others are dim. Pieces of all memories were expressed in the works.”
Maryte Collard, of Lithuania, made Song of the Linen. Writing about returning to Lithuania, she notes that it “always feels like the trip backwards in time” due to the ancient language and that is was the “last European country to accept Christianity.” Because of this “traces of ancient customs still remain in daily life….Flax has been a traditional Lithuanian fiber for several thousand years. It has a special place in my heart and it sings to me the song about the trip to the end of the world.”
Watch me breeze through the complete catalogue, which I couldn’t figure out how to upload, which shows a few more quilts. Below is a photo of the giant poster, showing all our venues. The one above was above the L’Espace Commercial.
It was raining that day, but none of our wet umbrellas were allowed in the exhibits. Since I’d lost one already to an umbrella stand, I wasn’t anxious to repeat the experience, so I whipped out my souvenir Patchwork Bag, and we stuffed the umbrellas in there as we walked around. Everyone was happy.
More posts coming. The original post, with links, is found *here.*
The brains of the meeting. I’d done some prepwork (looking at the website) so I knew what I wanted to see. The very first thing: see the vendors. I told my husband it would be like going to Disneyland for quilters. Everything was new and different to me, but since I only have a small suitcase, I had to choose fun and interesting things.
Since fat quarters were running about $5 a piece (with the conversion rates) and fabric was 22 Euro (about $25 dollars) per meter, I knew right off the bat I wouldn’t be buying any “American” fabric, and gained instant sympathy for European quilters at these prices!
The vendors were in a combination of inside “Espace Commercial” and outside tents, with one side of the tent opening to the passersby (and the weather). I saw many of the drapes drawn to close in the booths when it was raining.
The Commercial Space was weather-proof, but hot and stuffy. I took these photographs early in the morning. When we doubled back before leaving, it was very crowded.
Who wouldn’t want to shop at this booth, with its array of Kaffe fabrics and a vendor with bright pinky-red hair?
This isn’t exactly a vendor, but the distributor (Rhinetex) who’d rented out the ground floor of this old house, displaying some Moda fabrics (don’t they always do it spectacularly?).
And inside, the famous Tula quilt for her new line, and a sweet scene at the fireplace, with their logo on the felt backdrop. Lots of quilts in here, and it was fairly mobbed.
The last venue I want to mention was titled “Les Createurs” and was filled with beautiful handiwork from “designers and craftsmen.” I definitely coveted a few pieces of jewelry, as well as that blue coat in front. Now to show you what I bought and what their booths looked like. I asked permission for all photos, but was told more than once they’d only like me to take a “general” photograph (imagine this word with a French accent); I totally understood their request and why they made it.
These folks are from the west side of France; she has a book out (I saw it at the book booth, but since it’s all in French, well…) I’m always thinking small, so I picked up these two fat quarters.
Across from them was the Costuretas de Moly booth, with the most charming kits and small handmades. I saw a lot of sweet little bags and pouches with detailed scenes appliquéd and embroidered on the fronts and backs. They are from Catalan, Spain.
A small bracelet, a quick blurry shot of the bins of bracelets (they didn’t want their booth photographed) and random German Christmas Tree, the only thing I regret buying. The vendor had tacked green rosettes of fabric around all the outside edges, and I thought maybe I could tie on some green primitive rags instead. Oh well, we’ll see.
The handmade, laser-cut embellishments were purchased next, from a booth that made it hard to decide, given their categories of sewing, animals, children, family, house, etc.
Even though I said to myself “no fabric” the Filarte booth drew me in with their linens.My husband and I both liked the scarf on the outer upper edge of the houses, but when I tried on the leafy print next to it, well, that one came home. It is wool and cotton so I will be very warm in sunny old Riverside. (I’m wearing it now, as I type this next to the chilly window in our hotel in Geneva.)
I had a total fangirl moment when I realized whose booth I was standing in front of: Un Chat dans l’aiguille. The lady on the right is the artist who makes up all these beautiful pieces (and whose name I think is Christel–hard to figure it out when you don’t speak the language). I fell in love with her Matryoshka needle case, that I saw in a shop when I was here in Geneva last year, but they didn’t have any more (it’s out of print). So when I got home, I looked up who made it and read all about her and her designs.
But what to chose? None of them are cheap, so I had to choose carefully.I went with this little pouch with all its flowers and scalloped edge detail.When I looked inside, I can see why her kits are so popular: everything is well-labeled, ordered and she even included a needle.
Sometimes what draws you in to fabric is that it is the exact opposite of what you’d normally buy. Like the dusky shades of printed and dyed linen on the left. Then you spend the next two hours mentioning to your husband that it won’t be enough fabric to do anything with, so you circle back around (my husband is a saint) and then pick up two more fat quarters to round it out. I’m assuming it was the wife of the man (below) sort of strongly suggested that it was not good to put the heavier weight linen next to the quilt-fabric-weight linen on the right. But I loved the look of the thicker threads in the first pack and couldn’t be persuaded to change. If only they’d had the colors on the right in the heavier. The vendors are from Germany.
Here’s the back of the package, in case you ever run into them. Like I said, nearly everything I saw was unique, unusual, and not seen in the American markets.
Like these doll heads:
We saw this sign while walking between exhibit locations, and entered into the little lane where several booths were set up with bolts of fabric. At the back was a burned out house (?) with buttons for sale in what looks like the garage. Or maybe the whole house was under renovation?The quilts are pretty backdrops for what I purchased: the two buttons, above, and a necklace.
The penultimate purchase was this dishtowel from the Beauville exhibit in Sainte Croix-aux-Mines, one town away from where we started. I have one more purchase, but I’ll mention it when I get to the various exhibits.
Here’s the woman in the Alsatian dress again. It is so beautiful, and of course, I wondered where I could get that apron fabric. We saw her again later in the Old Theater venue, so stay tuned.
When my husband had the chance to work again in Geneva, France and we found out the European Patchwork Meeting was the same weekend, we made plans to drive up to France to attend. I have several posts about this, so it will be a bit comprehensive, as it was an experience that was unique in many ways, but familiar as well. The bits of a quilt show (as we call it in the United States) are a big convention center, filled one-half with the quilt show and one-half with the vendors. We are used to certain fabrics and know the prices of things and pretty much know how the quilt show part is run, too.
The name of this is the 23rd Carrefour European Patchwork Meeting, and as Sally S., an astute reader pointed out, “The word [Carrefour] means crossroads in French and is a reference to the fact that the show is at the centre of Europe, literally where France, Germany and Switzerland meet, and also I suppose where European quilters meet. It’s also the place where the Amish found themselves figuratively at a crossroads, many of them deciding to follow their leader to a new life in America.” Their website has many of the particulars, and I trolled their Instagram feed for weeks before coming.
How did I find out about this? The lovely Roxanne. Here we are before we headed out one day (I am terrible at selfies). I’d met her last year in the Manor Dept. Store in Geneva, and we’ve corresponded ever since.
The Patchwork Meeting was about 4 hours from Geneva, so my husband and I drove most of the way, breaking our journey in Mulhouse, France, where we stayed overnight. We drove the rest of the way Saturday morning and arrived in St. Marie-aux-Mines about 9:10 a.m. [Roxanne and her husband went separately.] We were so early, we found a great parking place. Above are scenes from the village. It rained off and on that day, which was too bad for the vendors, but we did our part (insofar as my suitcase could accommodate–see next post).
The whole town put out the welcoming carpet, with quilts hanging in shop windows, little pop-up shops in various places, food for sale, and in front of many venues, local & regional shops would bring their items for sale: breads, leather goods, flowers, souvenir items. It’s a very festive feeling!
The Patchwork Meeting is in four separate villages:
Sainte Marie-aux-Mines (main)
These four towns are in the Val d’Argent region (silver mining was the early mainstay industry), which is also where the our American Amish had their beginnings, so there is always an Amish display, apparently, in each show. I’ve been putting up some teasers on Instagram, but wanted to save the quilts for this space, as I can go slower and write more about the exhibit.