Here’s where I was last week (or was it two weeks already!). This was my fourth visit to the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX. (Here’s a link to lots of posts about previous shows and a few tangential things).
Quilt Festival is a huge event. Between the exhibits and the vendors and the potential classes it’s overwhelming. I’ve found that over the years, having a plan and a buddy has helped to make the event manageable. This year, Quilt National ’15 was one of the special exhibits and included my quilt ‘Murica. Seeing my quilt in this venue was the main reason for going, but I also wanted to support my friend Deborah as she promoted her new book and taught at Festival for the first time. And, since I was a bit at loose ends, I also took the opportunity to work for The Craftsman’s Touch Books. Working for the book shop had the unintended benefit of giving me a behind the scenes look at the Festival, and early access to the show (which I could really see during normal hours since I was working).
It’s a little surreal to be dodging forklifts and drivable vacuum cleaners in the aisles of the vendor area.
Day one was unpacking boxes. It’s a brutal day for vendors. They set up their booths on Tuesday and then fill them on Wednesday. Some booths just had a little work on Wednesday, but many worked 9-5 to fill inventory. At 5pm, the show opens and visitors fill in, shopping until 10pm. I was lucky to have only worked until 7 and then previewed the exhibits for a few hours. I left hungry and tired, but excited.
There’s a lot to cover! I did not have the time to browse the vendor mall, but I did ping around, checking out things that caught my eye, and looking for inspiration for The Pine Needle where I work in Portland.
The unveiling of the major prize winners is always a big part of the excitement of the show. October Sky by Bethanne Nemesh is my favorite. The silk just glows, and her stitched drawings are expertly rendered.
Old Denim Square by Noriko Nozawa also won a prize. This one grew on me the more I looked at it. I love the denim log cabin blocks. Then I grew to appreciate the deft use of custom machine embroidery in the details and the way she incorporated the pockets and brads and various parts of the denim clothing used in the quilt. Deborah predicts that custom digital embroidery will be the next big thing. We saw several examples at the show.
Denim must have gotten to me, because I was also attracted to Just Before the Lights Come On by Ana Buzzalino:
Another winner, The AEIO Ewes by Janet Stone charmed me. It’s clear design and sweet (but not too sweet) colors look great in photos and holds up in the cloth as well.
Skinny lines were on display in many ways. Fire in the Stone by Kimberly Lacy just blew me away. The color, the composition, the construction — gorgeous!
Look, more tiny strips — this time in Bobby Dole’s Blue Jeans by Chawne Kimber (my finger for scale, and hey, more denim in concept at least).
Machine quilting and long arms have finally come into their own in regards to whole cloth quilts. This one, Don’t Tell Me it’s Not a Dream by Ximo Navarro Sirera, is deceptively simple technique-wise, but strikingly elegant in design.
Deborah’s miniature art quilt won a prize too. I didn’t get a photo of her or it, but it was so exciting to be with her at the awards ceremony when she found out she won first prize in the category!
One of my favorite categories is Traditional Pieced. I particularly liked this section with bold, fresh, quilts (from left to right, Flight Path by Mary Menzer, Amsterdam View by Carolina Asmussen, and Wall of Sound by Maria Shell)
Here’s a closer look at Maria’s. She’s doing exciting work in my opinion.
There were several quilts in various exhibits which were simple one-patch blocks, in bold colors, with a combination of machine and hand quilting. I really liked them all. Diamonds Quilt #2 by Tara Faughnan was one I returned to again and again.
This sample for Sizzix by Victoria Findlay Wolfe is a great example of how great she is at taking a traditional block and “removing” parts (often by matching it to the background fabric). I thin this is a variation of the Arabic Lattice.
I like the movement on this one too, though I think the hard work was done by mid century Dutch designer Wim Crouwel whose design was inspiration for Betsy Vinegrad’s Mod Blocks.
I’m thinking 2017 might be the year of the scrap quilt for me. I also have a ziplock bursting with half square triangle blocks. Obviously I was inspired by Chesapeake by Aline Joulin.
Homespun by Mary Kerr and Donna Ferrill James reminds me of my own quilt, Partisan. It’s part of an exhibit of quilts marrying vintage blocks with modern settings.
I find myself drawn to Baltimore Album quilts and almost as much to Whig’s Retreat quilts. I may actually get around to making a Whig’s Retreat some day. Sunshine And Bluebonnets by Laverne Matthews is a variation.
And in another exhibit was this interesting contemporary variation, Spot On by Karen K. Stone, which caught my eye as well.
One of my favorite “traditional made contemporary quilts” is New New York Beauty by Katherine Knauer, which I saw a few years ago at the Texas Quilt Museum. Here’s another of Katherine’s quilts, Solar City, which contains all kinds of fun fabrics, including some fantastic ones she designed herself.
Finally, me with my quilt, ‘Murica. It was great to talk about the quilt with people, and see it getting attention from a new audience. The best reaction might have been the one a friend relayed to me of a genteel southern woman who was so shocked and unprepared to see this that she had to go sit down in a quiet place and pull herself together (particularly after witnessing another person identifying with the quilt in a guns are good kind of way). Apparently, she had no problem with the two quilts with nudes as “nudes are in museums,” but guns at a quilt show was a step too far. The experience led to a really interesting (and nonjudgmental) conversation between my friend and this lady, so the quilt has done it’s job of opening dialog.