Festival of Quilts 2014

Quilts as far as the eye can see

I was so looking forward to my first visit to the Festival of Quilts at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Would you know it, I caught a throat infection, was in bed asleep by 3 pm the day before and on the day itself I was feeling pretty rough. Mr BK said that I’d feel much better if I went, and a friend was driving, so off I went. In the great scheme of things, this was not the most successful visit to a show. My phone battery went flat, my camera battery went flat and I felt that if I’d had a battery it would must have been flat as well! There weren’t enough seats and I really needed to sit down frequently. Most of the cafes did not sell decaffeinated coffee, and those that did sold out shortly after lunch.

That said, I did enjoy the exhibition even though the size of it was overwhelming! Dina had a plan to ensure we saw all the quilts, although I’m still not sure we did. But we did see many, many, many fantastic quilts, and had my camera worked for longer I’d have been writing more than one post about the Festival of Quilts. And – we also saw Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably, oh yes, the gods of knit!

Diversity in Europe

I think that when we think of quilts we think of the UK and USA, maybe because as a British person I am familiar with the quilting heritage of these countries. I’m far less aware of the styles of quilts made elsewhere (although I did come across boutis from Provence when I lived there). One of the great things about the Festival of Quilts was seeing work by artists from different countries. The quilts I’m showing you here were in an exhibition called “Diversity in Europe”.

“Flowers” by Gunta Skeltona from Latvia

Flowers by Gunta Skeltona

 “Fireword” by Rita Bos van Keulen from Netherlands

Fireword by Rita Bos van Keulen

“Relier” by Maria Vuilleumier from Switzerland

Relier (Maria Vuilleumier), Switzerland - Diversity in Europe

“Across te Rive Tisza” by Emoke Egeresi from Hungary

Across te Rive Tisza by Emoke Egeresi

Mapping the Imagination

There were a few exhibitions at the Festival of Quilts show-casing the work of one artist. I love poring over old and new maps, so Mapping the Imagination by Alicia Merrett really appealed to me. Alicia uses a vivid colour palette for her aerial view quilts. They are stunning!

“Blue Harbour” by Alicia Merrett, 2014

Blue Harbour by Alicia Merrett)

“Yorke 1611” by Alicia Merrett, 2012

Yorke 1611 by Alicia Merrett

You can see more of Alicia’s work on her website.

London Modern Quilt Guild

Members of the London Modern Quilt Guild use modern fabrics, techniques and designs to create their quilts. In this exhibition they showed quilts made using brightly printed fabrics and contrasting solids.

“Brighter Side of Grey” by Judi Kirk

Brighter Side of Grey by Judi Kirk

“Pick up Sticks” by Judi Kirk

Pick Up Sticks by Judi Kirk

What is a quilt?

As we wandered around the various displays and exhibitions Dina and I did ask ourselves what exactly is a quilt? Jill, our expert quilter, said that the definition of a quilt is that it comprises three layers of fabric joined by stitching. This does allow for a wide range of techniques to be used to make the top and for different dimensions or form. Quilts are not restricted to beds! So here are a couple of pieces, which are not for beds, that caught my eye.

“Once” by Susan Hotchkis

Susan Hotchkis is a textile artist who is inspired by imperfections found in natural changes that occur in things such as weathered wood, crumbling plaster and peeling paint. She aims to create fragment like pieces that have the same aesthetic qualities. The piece on display was inspired by images Sue took in the yard of a heritage railway station where there were lots of rusting and broken train parts. She worked with synthetic felt and cotton organza. Sue used a wide variety of techniques including: discharging colour, free-motion machine embroidery, heat distressing, screen printing and trapunto quilting. You can see more of her work on her website.

Once by Susan Hotchkis
Once by Susan Hotchkis, reproduced with permission

Hangings by an unknown artist

These hangings caught my eye. The artist has used free-motion machine embroidery. The more I see of work produced using this technique, the more I like it! Unfortunately I did not notice the label saying who the artist was; if anyone knows please let me know.

Embroidered hangings by unknown artist

What did I buy?

As I was wandering around in my quest for a decaffeinated coffee one particular stall caught my eye. A cute and colourful stall covered in bunting and pompoms. If only my camera battery had still been working. I couldn’t resist a closer look. They were selling multiple pompom makers which are very simple to use. One of them has come home with me!

Pompom maker
Selvedge - the knit issue

I also saw the Selvedge stand which is always a real treat. And I bought the current issue of the magazine, as it’s the knit issue!

No fabric purchases this time; I really have to make a few more clothes before I buy anymore. However, I did look at the lovely wool fabrics produced by Magee of Donegal and Fabric Affair. Mr BK has said that if I want to make myself a winter coat then he will buy me the fabric. Just got to find the right coat pattern first!

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