Quilting outside of the block

Most of us think of quilts as cozy blankets that Grandma used to make, but there’s a whole new world of quilting techniques and materials out there. In fact, some of the current work being done by quilters might just knock your socks off!

“Winter Dust” from the book, Art Quilt Collage by Deborah Boschert

Traditional quilting can be beautiful and very creative, but there is so much more to quilting these days. For instance, Modern Quilting is a new movement in quilting that builds on the traditional with the use of brighter colors and bolder, often asymmetrical, designs.

And then there are Art Quilts…

Art Quilts are hard to define simply because there are no strict rules. A quilter can use purchased fabric, they can hand-dye their own or they can use a variety of techniques to change or augment purchased fabric.

They can use conventional dyes or natural dyes. Or they can use some other method of creating surface design on the fabric, such as flower pounding, rust dyeing, fabric painting or printing, transferring photographic images …there are just tons of different ways a quilter can create unique fabric, often resulting in multiple layers of surface design.

Besides personalizing fabrics and putting together combinations of fabrics, a quilter can also choose how to use stitching on the quilt: hand-stitching, embroidery, machine-stitching, stitching on the surface or using stitches to quilt through multiple layers of fabric.

They might choose to leave raw edges to create the effect they are looking for – or maybe even ravel the edges on purpose. Did you know that many art quilters include other materials besides fabric and thread? Art quilts can be mixed media, incorporating beads, paper, twigs, stones and other found objects … really anything a quilter chooses.

“Autumn Walk” by Noriko Endo, from the book Art Quilts: A Celebration

Photo of modern quilt clock courtesy of agistadler

Some art quilts are representational; the quilter “paints” a scene using pieces of fabric as dabs of paint. Others are quite abstract, and still others are concept art pieces which carry a deeper meaning.

You might have guessed that art quilts are rarely – if ever– used on a bed! Most art quilts are intended to display on a wall, but some pieces are even three-dimensional. And they can be any size – from tiny to  bed-sized quilts.

EDGE: On the Verge is a wonderful exhibit of art quilts and other fiber art currently on display in the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery, located in the library. The gallery also has some great informational and hands-on events planned during the exhibit. Learn more about EDGE: On the Verge.

The library has some great books for the crafts-person/artist who would like to explore quilting. Here is an excellent list of books about all kinds of quilting:

Quilting: Traditional to Modern

And here is a list of my favorite books about surface design for art quilters – or anyone interested in creating fiber art:

Fiber Art/Surface Design Books

Stop by the Arts & Crafts Neighborhood during August to see a display of surface design ideas and books. And be sure to visit us at the EDGE: Fiber Fair on Sunday, October 8th (from 1-6 PM) for more ideas and inspiration!

Photo courtesy of needleinpeace

Jill Mickel

Jill Mickel is a Public Services Specialist and a member of the Arts and Crafts team. Her passions are art and community, and she believes that art is for everyone! When she is not at the library or working in her studio, she can be found gardening, cooking, reading, or bird-watching.