Let’s All Appreciate Quilting!

Several weeks ago (right before the madness of Halloween), I attended Houston’s International Quilt Festival. It is an event I have been familiar with my whole life, partially because of my mother (she owns a “quilt cabinet”), and partially because we are just a nice, Southern family and so we have about a million quilts, give or take. When I moved to Denton (briefly, for my MLS), I discovered that I already owned at least half a dozen quilts, and even more if you count knitted afghans! Although we were never in short supply at my house, or my grandmothers’ houses, I always thought quilts were meant to be gradually acquired over a lifetime, but since I am starting out with half a dozen, I figured by the time I was old EVERYTHING would be covered in quilts. (I imagined a sort of quilt-camouflage home, filled with cats and creepy pillows.)

I couldn't fit all my other things into an RV, but apparently my vision is too horrible to exist on the internet (or the old women who live in such environs don't have cameras).

I couldn’t fit all my other things into an RV, but apparently my vision is too horrible to exist on the Internet, or the old women who live in such environs don’t own cameras.

Horror-dreams of bad taste aside, quilts are actually incredible. Seriously, even the awful, tacky, weird ones are amazing pieces of art/effort/construction/time/dedication. I mean, not the mass-produced, machine-made ones, just specifically the quilts actually created by living people. A grand collection of such quilts are on display annually at QuiltFest, on the side of the GRB that isn’t overwhelmed with ALL THE THINGS to purchase (and electric wheelchairs).

"Septem Peccata Mortalia (Seven Deadly Sins)" by Christine Alexiou is winner of the $7,500 World of Beauty Award at the 2013 International Quilt Festival Houston

“Septem Peccata Mortalia (Seven Deadly Sins)” by Christine Alexiou is winner of the $7,500 World of Beauty Award at the 2013 International Quilt Festival Houston

"Photographer Darling" by Noriko Nozawa is winner of the $5,000 Fairfield Master Award for Contemporary Artistry at the 2013 International Quilt Festival Houston

“Photographer Darling” by Noriko Nozawa is winner of the $5,000 Fairfield Master Award for Contemporary Artistry at the 2013 International Quilt Festival Houston

"A Letter Bit of Baaltimore" by Janet Stone is winner of the $7,500 Founders Award at the 2013 International Quilt Festival Houston

“A Letter Bit of Baaltimore” by Janet Stone is winner of the $7,500 Founders Award at the 2013 International Quilt Festival Houston

The whole event can become incredibly overwhelming, given the sheer volume of possible purchases (I bought so many amazing things!), but if you’re looking to be overwhelmed by art, creativity and worksladyship, the actual quilts are definitely worth a gander. They come from all over the world, include so many different details, perspectives and techniques, and are basically glorious pieces of textile/fabric art.

"Chihuly's Gondola" by Melissa Sobotka is winner of the Handi Quilter Best of Show Award, the $10,000 top prize at the 2013 International Quilt Festival Houston

“Chihuly’s Gondola” by Melissa Sobotka is winner of the Handi Quilter Best of Show Award, the $10,000 top prize at the 2013 International Quilt Festival Houston

Melissa Sobotka looks so proud!

Melissa Sobotka looks so proud!

According to this article, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, is opening a quilt exhibit (December 20th-April 27th) in order to showcase 18th-20th century quilts from the Brooklyn Museum’s decorative arts collection. “Workt by Hand” will offer a glimpse of “classic” quilting patterns/styles, while simultaneously emphasizing the amazing women who have, for centuries, honed this skill into a true art form.

Mary A. Stinson (American), Crazy Quilt, circa 1880, Silk, 81 ¼ x 81 ⅝ in. (206.4 x 207.3 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 1995.87, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Mary A. Stinson (American), Crazy Quilt, circa 1880, Silk, 81 ¼ x 81 ⅝ in. (206.4 x 207.3 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 1995.87, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Mary A. Stinson (American), Crazy Quilt, circa 1880, Silk, 81 ¼ x 81 ⅝ in. (206.4 x 207.3 cm) Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 1995.87, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Mary A. Stinson (American), Crazy Quilt, circa 1880, Silk, 81 ¼ x 81 ⅝ in. (206.4 x 207.3 cm) Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 1995.87, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Elizabeth Welsh (American), Medallion Quilt, circa 1830, Cotton, 110 ½ x 109 in. (280.7 x 267.8 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Roebling Society, 78.36, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Elizabeth Welsh (American), Medallion Quilt, circa 1830, Cotton, 110 ½ x 109 in. (280.7 x 267.8 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Roebling Society, 78.36, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Pictorial Quilt circa 1840, Cotton, cotton thread, 67 ¾ x 85 ½ in. (172.1 x 217.2  cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Franklin Chace, 44.173.1, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Pictorial Quilt circa 1840, Cotton, cotton thread, 67 ¾ x 85 ½ in. (172.1 x 217.2
cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Franklin Chace, 44.173.1, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Star of Bethlehem Quilt, circa 1830, Cotton, 95 x 95 ½ in. (241.3 x 242.6 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Alice Bauer Frankenberg, 59.151.7, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Star of Bethlehem Quilt, circa 1830, Cotton, 95 x 95 ½ in. (241.3 x 242.6 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Alice Bauer Frankenberg, 59.151.7, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Victoria Royall Broadhead (American), Tumbling Blocks Quilt, circa 1865–70, Silk, velvet, wool, 64 x 68 in. (162.6 x 72.7 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Richard Draper, 53.59.1, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Victoria Royall Broadhead (American), Tumbling Blocks Quilt, circa 1865–70, Silk, velvet, wool, 64 x 68 in. (162.6 x 72.7 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Richard Draper, 53.59.1, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Whole-Cloth Quilt, circa 1830s, Cotton toile, 70 x 85 in. (177.8 x 215.9 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Margaret S. Bedell, 28.111, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

Whole-Cloth Quilt, circa 1830s, Cotton toile, 70 x 85 in. (177.8 x 215.9 cm), Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Margaret S. Bedell, 28.111, Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012

I was fortunate enough, on my second visit to Washington, D.C., to spend some time in the NMWA, and had an absolutely delightful experience! I love museums (most of them anyway), but had never really contemplated how much of that art has been created by/through the “male gaze,” and to view an entire museum collection consisting of artwork created by my female counterparts felt incredible, and comforting. The art spans time periods, artistic styles, mediums, and cultures, plus the architecture and presentation are fabulous! If you have the opportunity, you should absolutely pay them a visit!

More about quilts to come soon, so look forward to it!

Have you made a quilt? What pattern/style did you use? Have you been to the Quilt Festival? Any specific memories/quilts/purchases??

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