Saturday, January 15, 2011

Favorites from Festival

My sore feet were testament to the hours I spent walking the Houston Quilt Festival show floor, studying the hundreds of quilts on display. It takes several trips through the show to really absorb everything - the quality and range of work is amazing and there is something to be learned in every aisle.

This year's Best in Show quilt exhibited the most amazing quilting, black thread on a white background, a bold move as every mistake would show more clearly. The stitching was amazingly close together and there were countless stitch patterns on the quilt. I was fascinated at the quilter's mastery of stitching - her award was well deserved.
Quilting skills are like any other skill, it takes countless hours of practice and many "uglies" before mastery is achieved. I am in awe of quilters who have the amazing patience it takes to create a work with detailed applique or microscopic stitching, like the quilt above. The quilt show exhibits an enormous range of work and techniques, traditional and contemporary, painted, pieced, dyed, discharged, embellished, the list goes on.

Here are some more images of quilts (or pieces of quilts) that caught my eye. My apologies to the artists for not having their name, or the name of their work, I didn't take notes as I took photos.

The Lily of the Valley quilt was one of my favorite quilts in the show. Dozens of batiks were used to create a realistic image of one of my favorite flowers.

As an aside, I'll tell you why it's one of my favorites... First, who can resist the amazing scent of the Lily of the Valley? I have a small patch of them in my garden and many a morning, I pick one stem as I leave home to run errands. The scent fills my car as I go about my morning, just delicious! My Mother carried a bouquet of Lily of the Valley when she and my father got married, a match made in heaven, IMHO. When we were young girls, maybe only six and eight, my sister, Valerie, and I decided we would pick my Mother a bouquet of Lily of the Valley. We proceeded to pick every single stem of flowers in the garden, snipping them just below the last "bell", leaving no stem to go into a vase to drink up water - what did we know about picking flowers? Mom was gracious in accepting our gift, followed by a little lesson in how to pick flowers, with stems. I also love them because they are among the first flowers of spring - the best part being that they totally take care of themselves once established in a garden. Yummy flowers shown in a fabulous quilt.

This long and narrow quilt was another favorite. I loved the unusual shape the arts and crafts feel of the image and the color palette. Again, the artist used a wide variety of fabrics to create texture and depth. I adore this quilt and can only wish that I will someday be able to find the patience it takes to make a work with this kind of detail.

This parrot quilt was AMAZING. The feather texture was so realistic, countless tiny pieces of fabric and a mastery of color and light made this a quilt that I studied for a long time. Again, I long for the patience it takes to make a work like this!

Well, that's the end of my HQF highlights for today...

One of the things I like to do as I walk a quilt show is assess my own quilt skills. I walk around saying either "gee, I could have made that" or "holy mackeral, that's way over my ability". I usually fall somewhere in between, confident in my work but knowing that there is so much left to learn and so many people whose skills are far beyond my own. Mostly, what I leave with, is a sense of wonder over the countless ways that quilting has evolved, from a functional source of warmth to a work of art, and how the making of quilts has grown from hand stitched scraps to all of the amazing techinques that are now used. The sky is the limit with quilting, I can't wait to see what's next!


  1. Gail - These quilts are beautiful. I am constantly amazed by the artistry and imagination portrayed in the quilt world. That parrot looks like it can fly right off the blog page!

  2. Stunning quilts and quilting! The parrot looks like a photograph, especially the eye. Thanks for showing them.