Weekend Inspiration: Quilt Con Quilts

As I was working this post, it became clear that my usual format wouldn’t do justice to the amazing works that were exhibited at Quilt Con. Furthermore, as they say, you can take the girl out of the Academy, but you can’t take the Academy out of the girl, so I found myself wanting to comment more extensively on why I found these particular quilts compelling. (Yes, yes, overly wordy, I know.) I wish I could have posted every quilt in the show–each one was made with such apparent care and passion–so this is just a small sampling of what made me pause and think.

(I apologize in advance for the blurry photos–I apparently have a shaky hand.)


In Defense of Handmade, by Thomas Knauer, quilted by Lisa Sipes.

This is a beautiful, fun quilt, but what makes me love it more is the concept behind it. A handmade quilt is such a perfect foil for the barcode and it’s implications of mass production and the depersonalization of our relationships with the things that surround us. According to Thomas, the quilt reproduces an actual barcode found on a mass-produced Martha Stewart branded quilt, which takes the concept even further–I love that the physical reality of the point of sale is reproduced here in a medium that mass production both obviates and seeks to imitate. The quilting by Lisa Sipes is spectacular, and I love the trapunto-look of the titular words in the upper right; again, the use of a traditional handwork technique reinforces the message of handmade vs. mass produced.

IMG_7270-croppedSunset, by Marina Kontsevaya

I think we have a tendency to define “modern” quilts according to the fabrics used–to some people, traditional patterns made up in contemporary fabrics qualify as modern automatically. This has always made me curious about the potential for using so-called “traditional” fabrics in ways that fit a more modern aesthetic. Several of the quilts at Quilt Con incorporated traditional fabrics, and this is one of my favorites. The fractured texture of the piecing and the gradation of shades are undeniably modern in style, and yet the quilt utilizes traditional fabrics and colors, such as burgundy and mauve. I think the exploration of modern design + “traditional” fabric/color will be fruitful for the modern quilting movement and can’t wait to see more works in this idiom.

IMG_7252-croppedNeutral and Neon, but Latifah Saafir

I love this quilt for reasons similar to the one above–it uses a conservative, traditional color in a way that is undeniably modern. The juxtaposition of beige, of all colors, with bright red and neon yellow is so unexpected, and the modulation of the different shades of beige provides a depth and richness that balances the bright pops of color. My guild president and I joked, half-seriously, that we should sponsor a challenge based around modernizing a color germane to traditional quilting in this way.

IMG_7249-croppedFlying Geese and Swans, by Lotje Meijknecht

I have loved this quilt since it was first posted on Flickr, and it was a thrill to see it in person at Quilt Con. Part of my admiration stems from the fact that I just cannot make this type of patchwork, either in layout or in technique. The balance of large and small forms, light and dark values, is dynamic and attractive, and I cannot figure out *how* it was put together (this is the peril of focusing on applique instead of patchwork–patchwork becomes mystifying). I also love the analogous color palette, and it’s something I want to try working into my own quilts more. Right now, I rely to heavily on complementary contrasts, and it’s instructive to see a quilt that uses an analogous palette yet retains energy.

IMG_7229-croppedDon’t Blink, by Caro Sheridan

Pixelated patchwork is all the rage right now, and this is a spectacular example of it. I also love the better-known Ron Swanson quilt by Monica Solorio-Snow, but thought this work by Caro Sheridan deserved a little more exposure, too. I actually stood next to several Quilt Con visitors who did  not perceive the overall image until they saw the quilt through their camera viewfinders or the corners of their eyes. The optical trickery is even more pointed when one considers the title of the quilt. (Aside–I had the pleasure of meeting Caro for the first time at Quilt Con, and I cannot wait to take her new Craftsy class on pixelated quilts!)

IMG_7244-croppedNew Star Rising, by Ben Darby

I love the combination of a supersized star motif with smaller repeated stars in this quilt. What really grabbed my attention, though, was how the smaller stars that overlap the large star are set off by the lighter blue. I love how some stars are bisected by the outline of the large star, and the effect of depth that the juxtaposition of bright and dark colors gives to the composition.

IMG_7287-croppedCurried Plums, by Debbie Grifka

Debbie Grifka is another modern quilter who uses a lot of applique, and I really admire her work. I especially love the use of bias strips to make the rings in this quilt, and it gave me lots of ideas for motifs that could be created using this technique. It’s difficult to see in this photo, but the outlines of the circles overlap each other in engaging ways.


Self Study, 1, by Chawne Kimber

Another applique quilt that just blew me away was Chawne Kimber‘s composite of self-portraits. I had never considered using applique in this way, and it must have taken a great deal of technical skill. I’ve always been fascinated with photos that have been reduced to two colors, but taking this concept and using it in a quilt was just brilliant.

As I mentioned, these were just a very few of my favorite works in the show. I highly recommend checking out some of the other Quilt Con recaps out there to see more the the over 200 works that were displayed.

Have a good weekend, everyone, and stay inspired!

7 thoughts on “Weekend Inspiration: Quilt Con Quilts

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I love the increase use of negative space in quilts. I find that some quilters and art school students are afraid of negative space. They think nothing happens in that space, but how wrong they are! Curried Plums is certainly a lovely example of how much negatives space has going for it!

    • Hi Mandy! Negative space actually got its own category in the quilt competition. The use of negative space in quilts is especially interesting, I think, because of how it interacts with the quilting itself.

  2. This was a great post. Of your favorites, I think my fav is “In Defense of Handmade”. I love that quilt for the same reasons you do. There were soooo many great quilts there. I completely understand your difficulty in narrowing down the field.

  3. Hi Casey, Just happened to visit here, coming across from Hyacinth Quilt Designs. Love all your personal comments on the quilts, and reading back about my flying geese and swans design is such a special event. Thank you for taking time to see and comment !

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