Trending Now In Art Quilts

Since Quilt National is held every other year, each show gives me a better reading on techniques and approaches many art quilters are using than blog posts and monthly newsletters can. Sometimes a technique may be an ephemeral fad or a way to market a product.

Here are some recurring themes and approaches I noticed at the 2015 show.

Quilts made as separate panels. Some had two panels; others had up to five. On a practical level, this makes the mechanics of quilting easier, though it creates a lot more edges to finish. This exquisite work by Deidre Adams has many layers, including paper, that have been peeled off to make holes.


Lots of big stitch handwork done with thin thread, possibly silk, as in Jeanne Gray’s Season’s End. I immediately thought of locust tree seed pods.

Roundabout Ginny SmithHand dyed, altered, painted, etc., fabrics. I saw discharge, resist printing, painting and even spackling used. Here’s Bonnie Buckman’s gorgeous hand dyed Estuary.

Estuary Bonnie Buckman

Less digital imagery. A few quilts used digital photographs, and some featured thread painting of such photos. Liquid Sunset by Charlotte Ziebarth uses an altered digitally photo (second photo below) in a way that doesn’t scream digital photo.

Liquid Sunset Charlotte Ziebarth


Less elaborate free motion quilting. That said, one of my favorite pieces, Insomnia, His and Hers, by Paula Kovarick, consisted of nothing but free motion quilting. However, it was used as a drawing tool, not as a means to create dense texture. Here is one of the two parts of this entry.

Insomnia,+©+2015,+Paula+KovarikReuse of old fabrics. Jane Dunnewold used an old, torn, grandmother’s flower garden quilt as the starting point for Grandmother’s Flower Garden I. She also used spackling.


Raw edges used as a design feature. Elena Stokes didn’t finish the edges of Infinity, but just cut off the strips.

Elena StokesHere’s another piece that features raw edges, Kit Vincent’s Chaos 3, and a detail from it.

raw stripsDetail of above piece.

detailTiny piecing. Maria Shell sorted oodles of tiny scraps to make To Agnes Martin, With Color. I wish I had a ruler to show you how small these squares are.

Maria ShellMore organic shapes in quilt edges as in Ghost Trees #3 by Karen Tunnell.

Ghost Trees TunnellEvery viewer will have a different selection of quilts they would feature, but I wanted to give you some idea of the range of approaches possible with art quilts. It was eye opening to see how artists used different techniques to enhance their designs rather than be their designs.With one exception, I could find something to admire in each entry.

I realize that the jurors’ tastes affect each show’s selection. That said, I found the work in this show to be much stronger than that in the 2013 show.



Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows, Techniques

15 responses to “Trending Now In Art Quilts

  1. i just thought I would let you know that the quilt you thought reminded you of locust seed pods was not Ginny Smiths work, but Jeanne Grays piece named Seasons End.

  2. So my first thoughts when you mentioned “trends” were things like those country geese with big blue bows around their necks from the 70s, and I though, well this will tell me what to steer away from. It was a kind of snobby thought, as if I am some big art quilter who wants to be original or something, instead of someone who plays around and makes the best of donated fabrics.
    But then! I read the whole post and I loved all of them! They all had a lot to offer in the way of ideas. And I love Chaos the best. What fabulous color! So I admit to my original snooty thoughts and also admit that I can see myself trying out most of these trends. 🙂

    • And don’t forget that great color combo of dusty pink and blue to go along with those geese. I can see where you could get a bit jaundiced about trends. After all, there were the owls on fabric trend, the deer on fabric trend, the wonky log cabin trend, the bargello quilt trend, the … But shows like QN give my creativity such a nudge, even if I never try out the ideas myself.

  3. Thanks for the post, since I didn’t get to the show!

  4. Thanks for sharing these! I really want to go to QN one year.

  5. There were several of these I really liked, especially Infinity and Chaos 3. Like Kerry said, great to see them in one post. Maybe I need to attend in 2 years…

  6. This is fascinating, to see so many of these in one post! I really like the Liquid Sunset one, mostly because I like intense colors (and water) and I like the idea of using old quilts to make new. Such creativity!

    • The explosion of creativity is one of the reasons I enjoy this show. The artists have definitely found their voices, and the same techniques are used so differently from one piece to the next.

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