Tuesday, August 05, 2014

500 Traditional Quilts

You know, when I made this quilt eleven years ago, I didn't think of it as traditional.  I thought it was art.   Art that came directly from my insides and I was thankful that I could use the firm ground of pattern handed down to me by women artists of an earlier time.  By making this red quilt and appliqueing my own hand not holding those four flying shapes I was able to express how I felt during the time my nest was emptying and my parents were aging.  It was a poem.

There is a new book coming out this September from Lark - 500 Traditional Quilts  by Karey  Patterson Breshenhan, director emeritus of the International Quilt Festival in Houston Texas. 
Two of my quilts have been selected to be in the book.
The first is Flesh and Blood (shown above).  Made in 2003 from cotton, wool and sheer polyester,   pieced with a sewing machine and then appliqued, embroidered and quilted by hand, 90" square.  The traditional pattern's name? Ocean Waves.  Click here to see Flesh and Blood on my website.

The second quilt that will be in the book is entitled Something More Magical Than It Ever Was.  It was made over twenty years ago in 1991 from recycled family clothing and new silk fabrics in a traditional Log Cabin pattern with some variation.  It's not included in this post but you can see it on the website as well, here.  That quilt was about memory and how we adjust our memories as time goes on.  I thought it was art too when I made it.  I felt that I was using a woman's art medium.
An exhibition of the 500 quilts will be in Houston this fall to celebrate the ruby anniversary of the quilt festival.  This exhibition will tour to Chicago in May 2015.  Both quilts have been invited to participate.
Flesh and Blood is in private collection but the owners loaned it back to me so it could go on exhibition. 
I do want my work to be seen.  I offered them the quilt shown above as a replacement while Flesh and Blood is on tour.

Protection Blanket, 2005, hand dyed rayon, machine pieced then hand quilted and embellished with couched rayon ribbon and sequins, 80" square.  The traditional pattern here is an Amish one, usually made with somber or deep toned fabrics.   Diamond in a Square.   (to view on website click here)
I had recently learned that in order to keep their children safe, many mothers in eastern cultures sewed shiny things onto their children's clothing to reflect the bad energy.  I sewed sequins onto the central diamond - making it into a shield that would protect the sleeper.
I drew on this quilt,  pleased to have the spaces and symbolism of traditional pattern under my intuitive gestures.    I made this piece nearly ten years ago and it is nice for me to examine the couching again.
It's fascinating.
grounded by tradition


  1. I notice that both details of Flesh and Blood are distorted a bit because of how they were photographed on the line. They are wonky looking but in reality, they are not like that.


  2. Congratulations to be added in what is sure to be a wonderful book. I love Lark publications. The couching on your quilt adds a new dimension. It's quite lovely and a very nice gesture on your part to loan it to the owners of 'Flesh and Blood' while it is in the exhibition.

  3. It is also really interesting that although I answered the Call for Entry for this book with the log cabin quilt (something more magical...), I did not enter Flesh and Blood. Karey chose it because it had been in a previous Quilt inc exposition in 2003 entitled Spirit and Strength - that exhibition had toured Europe.
    She still had the images from that 10 year old exhibition, I guess - and asked for Flesh and Blood for the book.

    so that's pretty nice I think.

  4. Congratulations Judy !
    (so wonderful that some people have very good memory .....!)

  5. I fell in love with your work through those quilts. I saw them for the first time at the Toronto Outdoor Art Expo ...can't remember how many years ago. Congratulations!! I will definitely be purchasing that book.

  6. Congratulations, Judy! I'd not seen your 'Something Magical' before...the sequins and couching add more magic to the already beautiful fabric selection. Once again you have stretched my imagination by the use of "unconventional" techniques on the ground of traditional quilt patterns. Thank you!

  7. Looking at your past work is so interesting. To me, it looks like your work has become more minimal and denser/deeper over time. The colours are not as bright, and you are still founded on the tradition of women's art, but in more of your own way. And beautiful all the way through. It must be very satisfying to survey.

  8. I followed the link to your website and fell down the rabbit hole. What an impressive body of work. The two quilts that have been chosen for the book are wonderful examples of traditional patterns supporting a deeper expression of experience and emotion. The grounding of the past allows the lift-off into metaphor. Also the colors, especially of Flesh and Blood, are inspired.


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx