by Mary Jo
I've always liked quilts. Throughout my childhood, I slept under a blue and white quilt a neighbor gave to my mother because the neighbor didn't want it anymore. A lot of quilts were passed around as old fashioned and uninteresting in those days, I think.
But these days quilts are very popular, partly because they represent authenticity and a link with the past. Not to mention that they're beautiful usable art that can be lived with and appreciated every day.
(Like most Americans I have a rather romanticized image of pioneer women gathering together for a quilting bee, both to make quilts and to share female companionship. The reality is inevitably more complex.)
I have several friends who quilt. One who is a writer, Annette Mahon, has created the St. Rose cozy quilting mystery series. I've had friends create quilts for new babies, or to offer comfort to someone going through a difficult time.
There was also the AIDS Memorial Quilt with squares commemorating those who had died of the disease. The largest folk art project in the world, it weighed 54 tons in 2010. (The history of the quilt is quite interesting.)
But what inspired today's blog was being invited to the Quilt Expo 2015 show by a friend who is a member of the Baltimore Heritage Quilters Guild. Held in a sprawling gymnasium at Goucher College, it was a feast for the eyes and senses. The lovely quilt above was done as a sign at the entrance.
I won't say much more beyond mentioning that there are traditional quilts and art quilts. The latter tend to be small and are more like tapestries designed to be hung on the wall. The quilt is the left was called "Back Door to the Castle"and was created by Rebecca Ludwig, the featured Contemporary Quilter.
The quilts are irresistibly tactile--you just want to touch and feel the textures. But the guild is very serious about visitors not touching the quilts because oil in fingers can mar them. There were lots of signs warning not to touch, and to ask a white gloved volunteer if one wanted to see the details of construction. My favorite sign said "Touching will be monitored by aircraft," which inspired the Mayhem Consultant to scan the high ceiling for drones. I had to shove my hands in my coat pockets to keep from touching. <G>
Here are just a few of the amazing quilts on display. The one below is a traditional Baltimore Album Quilt made up of squares with different images. I believe it was done by the featured Traditional Quilter, Clara Murphy.
I thought of the one above as "The Octopus's Garden." (Unfortunately, I didn't get the names of most of the creators.)
I loved these cranes. (I think they're cranes.) The African inspired quilt below was even more stunning in person than the pictures, with the bird on the right accented with shining metallic gold.
I must have really liked the birds! Here are ravens:
I also like the whimsy of this one of the sewing machine. (As with shows of all sorts, there were also vendors selling fabrics and threads and other materials and tools.) On the right is one I think of as "Tree at Sunset."
Here's a more abstract design.
This is just a small sampling of the beautiful works on display. Are you a quilter? Or an aspiring quilter? Or an admirer of quilts? If you've had special quilts in your life, please tell us about them!
Mary Jo, who thinks her much worn childhood quilt deserves to be dug out of its closet.