Posts tagged ‘Sieglinde Schoen Smith’

Quilt Odyssey 2010, Part I: The Quilts

Detail, "Floral Fantasy"

Detail, "Floral Fantasy" by Molly Hamilton-McNally & Cindy Seitz-Krug

The ostensible purpose behind Diane’s visit the weekend of July 23-25 was to attend Quilt Odyssey at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, but the show wound up being the last aspect of the weekend I wrote about.  I can’t really define that as odd or inappropriate, as certainly the time we spent quilting was more fun, meaningful, and productive than attending yet another quilt show.  Also, I was surprisingly underwhelmed by the show this year, and it’s taken me about a week of mental digestion to figure out why.

The main conclusion I’ve reached is that despite some notable exceptions, it was a great big rerun.  Quilt Odyssey is an amazing, highly selective national show that attracts the top echelon of quilts from all over.  And in its own way, that’s the problem.  It’s ironic that looking at one nearly-perfect quilt after another gets a little… boring?  Not to mention that most of the top shows allow a quilt to be exhibited for two years after it’s completed, so I had seen, either in person or in magazines, most of the ribbon winners before — in some cases, I’d seen them at multiple shows already.

Detail, "Big Bird Blues" by Marilyn Badger and Claudia Clark Myers

Detail, "Big Bird Blues" by Marilyn Badger and Claudia Clark Myers

So, Best of Show was Filigree by Marilyn Badger, just like at AQS Lancaster.  We also saw Hell Freezes Over, by Marilyn Badger and Claudia Clark Myers (which won a blue ribbon at PNQE 2009) as well as Big Bird Blues, by Marilyn Badger and Claudia Clark Myers.  Sensing a theme?

"Wings and Feathers" by Mark Sherman

"Wings and Feathers" by Mark Sherman

The blue ribbon for Large Quilt/Mixed Techniques went to Saffron Spring by Barbara Lies, which won Best of Show at the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival (displayed at the 2009 Quilt Fest of New Jersey)  and second place in Other Techniques at the 2009 Quilters’ Heritage Celebration.  That means it beat out one of my favorite quilts ever, Circles of Life by Linda French, which wound up with the red ribbon despite the Best of Show it won at the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival.  Another surprise upset was seeing Sieglinde Schoen Smith’s masterpiece, Once Upon A Christmas Night, take second place to Heron Happiness by Kathy McNeil in the Appliqued Wall Quilt category.  But overall, many, many of the quilts on display, and almost all the ribbon winners, were quilts we’d seen before.  In fact, I couldn’t figure out where I’d seen Mark Sherman’s blue-ribbon-winner, Wings and Feathers, until I looked at the latest American Quilter magazine and there it was on the cover.

"Heron Happiness"

"Heron Happiness" by Kathy McNeil

I’m very conflicted about this reaction.  It’s not that I expect the cream of the show quilt crop to limit the number of shows each quilt is entered in.  If I ever make a quilt on that level, I can guarantee it’ll be touring until the clock strikes twelve on its eligibility.  And I was actually grateful to see the domestic- and longarm-machine quilting award winners from AQS Lancaster both on display again at Quilt Odyssey, since the lighting was so poor where they’d been displayed at Lancaster that I hadn’t been able to see the quilting.

Detail, "Darwin's Diamonds and Flowers" by Rhonda K. Beyer

Detail, "Darwin's Diamonds and Flowers" by Rhonda K. Beyer

In general, the display space at Quilt Odyssey is one of the best in the area, between the overall better lighting and the show organizers’ decision to barricade the quilts with a clear tape X that allows the viewer a few feet into the “cubicle,” rather than a chain at the front that keeps you 8′ or more from the furthest-most quilt as in Lancaster.  I have heard some showgoers grumble about the busy carpet pattern in the Hershey ballroom, but I don’t find it distracting; perhaps they’ve seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas one time too many?  The location as a whole is a far cry from the bad old days when Quilt Odyssey was held at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center in Gettysburg — the less said about that place, the better!  Plus, Quilt Odyssey is the only show I’ve attended at which the quilt display space and the merchant mall are completely separate from one another.  It creates almost a gallery atmosphere in the quilt exhibit, without the hectic distraction of the vendor booths.  It’s quite nice.

"Explosion of Sunflowers" by Barbara H. Cline

"Explosion of Sunflowers" by Barbara H. Cline would have been my vote for Viewer's Choice.

It’s not that I’m sorry I went, just that I have such high expectations of this show that I was surprised not to be more bowled over by it.  And if I didn’t go to so many quilt shows, I wouldn’t have the jaded, “been there, done that” attitude that I’m concerned may be coming across here:  I can only imagine what my reaction would have been to seeing all those top quilts I’ve just enumerated, for the first time, all in one place!  My brain might have exploded, and that sounds messy.  Does that Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover get gray matter out of cotton?  Better not to find out.

August 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

QFNJ 2010: Part II, More Quilts

Before I write about the vendors, I have to do some addenda to the Quilts post.  First of all, since I don’t get down to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampden, VA, I really appreciate that the ribbon winners from that show are exhibited at QFNJ.  The Best of Show quilt, “Circles of Life” by Linda French, was unbelievable.  It is quite possibly the closest thing to a perfect quilt I have ever seen.  The applique!  The piecing!  The trapunto!  The quilting!  The only word that is adequate to describe it is, “swoon.”

"Circles of Life" by Linda French

"Circles of Life" by Linda French

I wasn’t familiar with Linda’s name, so I Googled her; she’s apparently a professional longarm quilter, and this quilt is just sweeping the awards this year.  Her website doesn’t display previous show quilts, so I don’t know if I should have already known her name or not, but after this show year, everyone will.

I was happy to see that Sieglinde Schoen Smith has a new show quilt this year, “Once Upon a Christmas Night.”  I didn’t get a picture of it, as it was mobbed with people gaping in awe at all the perfect details, very reminiscent of “Mother Earth and her Children.” (An image of it appears here, about halfway down the page, with the rest of the winners from MAQF.)  I did, however, have to ask people to stop touching it (I’ve been White Glove committee chair for the past three guild quilt shows, when I happily embrace the role of Quilt Police) and finally just found the white glove lady and sent her over.  This particular quilt has little Advent-calendar-style doors that open to reveal surprises underneath, and people’s curiosity was getting the better of them.

I completely understand the desire to touch quilts; they are a tactile art form.   But each person’s oils and exertions add up with all the others, and can easily damage the quilt over time.  I’ve heard of one guild that displays an example quilt at the entrance of each show that viewers are invited to touch.  The binding is incomplete so the batting can be seen; examples of hand and machine quilting, applique, etc. are on display so it acts as an educational item.  But whether it’s an uncontrollable desire to touch something tactile, an inability to view displayed quilts as art worthy of preservation, or just a sense of entitlement that the rules shouldn’t apply to them, people can behave very badly at quilt shows.  The people who arrive first thing in the morning with their big styrofoam cups of coffee and are just incensed that they can’t sip them while touring the show are the only ones I’ll specifically mention right now, but believe me, I’ve got stories.

There were many memorable quilts.  Up until this point, I’ve focused on the ones that were memorable for their visual impact and flawless execution.  However, some quilts at every quilt show are memorable for other, quirkier reasons.  I have been, for many years, collecting photographs of quilts I’ve seen at shows that contain nudity, guns, or toilets (I have yet to find one that hits the trifecta; any takers?)  I’ve had to become more selective of the nudity quilts, as that’s become more common and not always well executed, but the guns and toilets rarely disappoint.  As someone who has herself won a Judge’s Choice ribbon for a quilt that featured a labeled anatomical image of the human brain in applique, I am hardly one to question someone’s choice of subject matter in a quilt, but I have to say, this was definitely the first time I’ve seen an appliqued Superman drinking a beer:

Superman with a beer

Detail of "Oktoberfest" by Maki Shimada

This was one of several small quilts on the Oktoberfest theme from the World Festival Quilt Challenge, but it was by far my favorite.  See how the foam is done in little seed beads?  That’s dedication.

I have also now crossed a cultural threshold.  While I’ve seen many, many Harry Potter quilts, Wizard of Oz quilts, Gone with the Wind quilts, I can never again say that I’ve never seen a Twilight quilt:

"Twilight" by Jennie Greenhalgh

"Twilight" by Jennie Greenhalgh

You can’t quite see it in this picture, but she used glitter on Edward’s face so that he’s all sparkly.  Now, I am the last person on Earth to make fun of someone for being a fan of something; I’ve attended three “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” conventions, and at the last two I collected actors’ autographs on muslin squares for when I make my Buffy quilt.  I just hadn’t seen a “Twilight” quilt before, let alone one with glitter on “Edward’s perfect face.” All right, so I’m making a little fun.  Then again, I have seriously considered buying this shirt.

Next post:  Vendors!

March 9, 2010 at 5:00 pm 2 comments

Meet the UFOs! Part I: Lemoyne Star

I can’t put all my UFOs up at once, or this would be the longest post in blog history, but I have to start somewhere, and I may as well start with one that I never dreamed would end up unfinished.  As with so many dysfunctional relationships, it all started so well…

Lemoyne Star Quilt Top

Complementary Color Lemoyne Star

My friend Diane and I took a class from Barbara Lenox in 2003 (or so) on Lemoyne stars.  I definitely needed a class, because my first attempt at sewing together 45-degree diamonds resulted in bra cups rather than blocks.  Now, Barbara has a reputation for being a tough teacher because she insists that you do things her way.  But her way works, and what did you come to class for if you just wanted to do things the same old nonworking way?

As part of this, she had us make our class blocks using red and green diamonds.  She didn’t want to have to talk about light and dark, or fabric A and fabric B, she wanted to be able to say, “Put the red diamond on top of the green diamond” and have everyone on the same page.  It was very effective, but at the end of class I had red and green stars on a pink background, as I hadn’t wanted to make Christmas blocks.  They were beautiful and flat — not even a training bra.

At this point in my quilt life, I believed myself to be a finisher.  I was not comfortable with the idea of putting these blocks in a drawer for some mythical future project; I wanted to make a quilt.  A big, bed-size quilt.  And I had just bought my mom a book about two-block secondary designs.  So I made a total of 12 Lemoyne star blocks, using complementary colors from the color wheel as the star points with pastels of the three primary colors as the backgrounds.  (No one was going to accuse me of not thinking this through.)  Then I used one of the block layouts from my mom’s book to make the alternate blocks and join them together.

Then I was possessed by demons.  At least, that’s the only logical conclusion to be reached if you look closely at the border fabric I used on this quilt top.  I wanted a black background, and I wanted all the bright colors from the top to appear in it to tie it all together.  However, I apparently didn’t want to spend any time or effort finding the RIGHT fabric to meet these criteria, so I bought the first one I found:

Bad Border for Lemoyne Star Quilt

"We wish to welcome you to Munchkin Land!"

I won’t sport with your intelligence discussing WHY this is a bad border fabric (for anyone who doesn’t happen to be a 6-year-old playing Pretty Pretty Princess, that is) but I will say that I have no intention of ripping it all out.  Since it is actually pieced into the alternate blocks, ripping it out and replacing it would be an exercise in futility and a way to make sure that this UFO stayed unfinished forever.  But I do plan to cut the Bad Border down to a less objectionable width and add a pieced border, which I actually made the blocks for within the last 4 years, the last time I tried to finish this quilt.

Lemoyne Star Border

I don't exactly remember what I was trying to accomplish here.

So what’s the holdup?  First off, there’s fear of failure.  I have to calculate the right size to cut the Bad Border down to so the pieced border fits properly, and then I have to actually cut it down correctly and accurately.  Both these obstacles seem much harder than doing it right the first time would have been, and undoubtedly seem harder than they will be once I muster up to do it.

This quilt also represents another barrier to finishing, the learning curve.  In a (wonderful, game-changing) machine quilting class I took in 2004 from Karen Kay Buckley, she told us that people frequently ask her how long it took to make her latest (gorgeous, award-winning) quilt.  She said she always wants to answer, “My entire life up until now.”  This makes perfect sense to me.  Every quilt I make is a learning experience, and I’d like to think that each one gets a little better in some way or another.  When I have to “go back in time” to finish a UFO, all the things that I would now do differently jump out at me, and they get demoralizing.  In some ways, it seems easier to just move on to a new project that doesn’t have these problems than to try to fix this one.

Some good advice to remind myself of at this point:

“Nothing in life is a failure if you learn anything from it — even if all you learn is, I’m never going to do that again!”  – Ricky Tims, speaking at the Ricky Tims Super Seminar, Richmond, VA, July 2007

“There are many tragedies in life — a mistake made in fabric is not one of them.” — Libby Lehman, speaking at the Ricky Tims Super Seminar, Frederick, MD, May 2009

“Just play.  If it goes wrong, fix it.  The best things happen from that.  If you haven’t done anything wrong, you haven’t done anything right, either.” — Sieglinde Schoen Smith, speaking at York Quilters’ Guild, July 2009

Amen to all that.

January 26, 2010 at 7:20 am Leave a comment


Obstacles to Progress

Siamese Cat on Sewing Machine

Making it work!

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