26 Jun

Quilt Expo X

Our party bus left Heidelberg Thursday morning, so we had the evening to explore Lyon, but didn’t dive into the quilts until Friday. On Friday morning, our wonderful bus driver dropped us off here at the convention center. Lest you think there are no crowds, we had to walk into the center of this ginormous “city” to the end where the expo was held. Left to right are me, Claudia, Kathy and Christine.
My posse

Once inside we split up for a while because I thought I wanted to take a class. Ends up, the only one that looked interesting had been on Thursday. My pals started at the back and worked their way forward so I didn’t catch up with them until mid day, but that was fine as we were looking at quilts, not each other. My plan was to look for a while first and take out the camera later after I had digested things a bit. I did not seek out the prize winners, but just what struck me for one reason or another in each category. Some areas did not allow photographs as well. Overall, there were more than enough quilts to see. There was a broad range from traditional to art quilts, although most of the traditional quilts were historic. I thought the American representation was weak, but that’s probably because the créme de la créme of American quilts are headed to Huston, Paducah, PIQF, Chicago, etc. Oh yes, the “Quilt Police” do not live in Europe.

Once in the show, the first quilts to see were made especially for the Expo. As Lyon is the silk capitol of France, Soie et Lumiere was the theme chosen by the French guild. Though simply constructed and kinda puffy, I really liked the way this: Nuit et Lyon, by Françoise Fuhrer sparkled.

Nuit et Lyon by Françoise Fuhrer

Lyon Lumiere by Jeannine Leduc had a wonderful energy and used a lot of silks. The lines are all couched yarns and cords. The yellow spiral is painted.
Lyon Lumiere by Jeannine Leduc

Though not my style at all, this entry into the The European Quilter contest caught my eye. All the fabrics are sewing related and fussy cut to isolate little scissors and spools, etc. The setting triangles (or spaces behind the compas points) were filled with selvedges, and the workmanship was very capable. It’s called In die Wiege Gelegt, or “Born into It,” by Margaret Zalfen of Germany.

In die Wiege Gelegt by Margaret Zalfen

Nothing really jumped out at me from the Culture of My Country competition. There were some amazing antique American quilts there, but photography was prohibited. There was a Log Cabin quilt in particular with the teensyest blocks I had ever seen. They were probably no more than three inches square and logs no more than 1/4″ wide. And it was a full size quilt. The quilting in this collection was impeccable as well. The collection of Amish quilts was popular with the europeans, of course. A Russian group showed their quilts and some hand crafts. In general the Russian sensibility was very ornamental. Everyone really seemed to like this “pillow’ version of a crazy quilt, 100 Pieces, by Vera Sherbakowa (I liked it too):

100 Pieces by Vera Sherbakowa

Detail, 100 Pieces, by Vera Sherbakowa

It was nice to see the I Remember Mama quilts in person. I had seen so many already in publications though, so I didn’t stop to study them all. Still, things are often very different in person and you really do miss the textures and shine in print. I think my favorite is still the one of a sporty younger man in bathing shorts next to an elderly woman fully clothed and wearing a sun hat. I think it’s called Kukla and Ya-Ya but I don’t feel like looking it up right now.

Speaking of seeing quilts in person, I seem to see works on the internet or in books and put them on a pedestal of perfect piecing and quilting and craftsmanship. I really need to get out more often because in addition to those quilts which actually are absolute perfection, there is also a lot of incredible work out there which is not as “quilt police” perfect as it is in my imagination. It was really reasuring to see that aside from the creative vision, the actual construction of many pieces is quite accessible to someone working at my level. That is to say, someone who has confident hand eye skills and is comfortable with her sewing machine, but does not hand quilt like Esther Miller or machine quilt like Diane Gaudinski or Hollis Chatelaine. Now to work on that artistic inspiration… that’s the difficult part. And that’s the part I can appreciate in someone else without feeling like a failure myself. Perhaps because the artistic vision just IS while the technical skills can always be improved. Did I make any sense there?

I don’t remember which category this quilt was in, but it was the one which commanded me to take out my camera. I love the color, I love the simplicity, I love the well-done piecing, I love the neclaces which are just circles of machine quilting. I want to be able to make quilts like this which are not over the top, yet they WOW you nonetheless. It’s called Roam Free, by Margie Garatt of South Africa.
Roam Free by Margie Garatt

QuiltArt@10 was nice and I enjoyed SiX:Stories. Both were very arty, but not sloppy. I guess I seem to have a thing about craftsmanship. Husqvarna MasterPieces also had some gorgeous work, to include Mel’s Matchstick Moons. Unfortunately, that was one of the ones where I couldn’t take pictures. There were a few more themed competitions which were again nice, but nothing jumped out at me. I stopped at the SAQA: Breaking Boundaries exhibit to introduce myself to Linda Colsh. While there, juror Steen Houg was talking about each of the quilts and both why he and his partner juror chose each piece and what they saw in each of the works. It was fascinating to hear his interpretations, and so great for me to hear intelligent talk about art. Again, I don’t get out enough. The only talk I get around here is about dinner plans and what’s in the wash. Anyways, nice to be an artist for an hour.

Steen Houg guided

Behind Mr. Houg is an underwater scene by Leslie Gabrielse. I have admired his Lionfish from afar for many years and wondered just how he gets his layered, painterly look. I love this elegant combo of raw edge appliqué, hand dyed fabrics and commercial prints, crazy quilt stitching, and painting. None is over the top or heavy handed IMHO.

Leslie Gabrielse detail

I checked out the Tactile Architecture competition because my two entries were rejected. I was pleased to see that whatever the reason they were rejected was, it was probably more subjective than not, and may have had more to do with the poor slides I had than with the quality of my quilts. They would have looked just fine in the exhibit. That said, I really liked all the pieces that were chosen, so no hard feelings. Two that I really liked were Enter Here, by Jo Wolf (USA) and Altstadt, by karen Eckmeier (USA). There was another more diary like one that I loved, but I didn’t get a picture of it.

Enter Here, by Jo Wolf

Altstadt, by Karen Eckmeier

The Journal Quilts show was interesting, but on top of the rest of the show, just too much to take in. As journals, they are too personal to just look at and walk away. They need you to read the artists’ statement of what she was experiencing in each particular month. But, to read about each one was just too overwhelming for me. I did browse though, and particularly liked the ones where the artist had chosen an underlying theme for her journals and essentially did theme and variation. Call me simple.

We slolomed through the vendors, but didn’t buy much. Quilting fabric in Europe is very expensive (equivalent to $15-$20 per yard). Quilting may be an everyday hobby and an industry for Americans, but it is a treat for the decidedly middle class here. There was a patchwork damask belt/wrap thing that did jump out of a basket and wrap itself around my waist and insisted on going home with me, though. And I couldn’t stay away from the hand dyed stuff. I had hoped to find a Japanese craft magazine for the bus ride home, but ended up with a Magic Patch magazine full of fabric origami instead. Oh, and I did get some French rick rack. Very cute.

6 thoughts on “Quilt Expo X

  1. Thank you so very much for this virtual quilt show, Kristin. I don’t get a chance to get out of the states so it is nice to see quilts that are made outside. I read a study that the average quilter earned a household income of $75,000 per year, and that was a few years ago, so it is higher now. That’s not middle class income. Although quilts can be made less expensively, with fabrics bought at thrift stores (old clothes), or chain stores, most of the ones at the quilt store are too expensive for me.

  2. Another thing about artistic talent and technical talent… as you know, it is much easier to evaluate and compare quilts on their technical merits. I mean, either your points match or they don’t. Artistry is so much more personal. Don’t compare yourself to others in that sense. You ARE an artist.

  3. I saw Roam Free in an Australia quilt book a couple of years ago and I gasped when I saw it! It’s stunning in its simplicity. Thanks for sharing a bigger picture than was in the book. I can see there are animals quilted into the foreground. Divine.

    And thanks for taking the time to upload and choose all those pictures for us and for sharing your very insightful thoughts. It was certainly the next best thing to being there.

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