Sat | Feb 27, 2021

Kim Cook | Quilt artists create textiles to admire or cosy up with

Published:Sunday | January 10, 2021 | 12:07 AMKim Cook - Contributor
This image provided by Sabrina Gschwandtner shows a quilt titled ‘Hands at Work III’. Los Angeles-based artist Sabrina Gschwandtner has created a quilt series, stitching together 16mm and 35mm film strips and backlighting them with a lightbox to illumi
This image provided by Sabrina Gschwandtner shows a quilt titled ‘Hands at Work III’. Los Angeles-based artist Sabrina Gschwandtner has created a quilt series, stitching together 16mm and 35mm film strips and backlighting them with a lightbox to illuminate the patterns. She began the project, ‘Hands at Work,’ in 2009 when a friend gave her some film being cleared out of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Anthology Film Archives.
This image provided by Brooklinen shows an Anchal pillow. Artist Colleen Clines went to India while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. Working with textiles with women there inspired her to found the non-profit Anchal Project with her sister, Mag
This image provided by Brooklinen shows an Anchal pillow. Artist Colleen Clines went to India while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. Working with textiles with women there inspired her to found the non-profit Anchal Project with her sister, Maggie. They now employ over 150 artisans in India as well as in their native Louisville, Kentucky.
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In this winter of hunkering down at home, there’s a trend that’s just right for the times: quilts as décor and as art.

An artistic quilt might be displayed prominently on a wall, thrown over a couch, or just folded and hung from the rungs of a ladder. (Or you could cosy up with it.)

“Quilts bring warmth, depth, and texture to any room,” says Suzy Williams, a quilter and graphic designer in Oak Park, Illinois. She offers tutorials and patterns for quilt making on her website, Suzy Quilts.

“Step back to the far edges of a room and see a quilt’s geometric design and colour patterns as a whole composition, or stand inches away and observe the luxurious combinations of fabric, stitching, batting density, and glorious handmade variation,” she says.

Contemporary artists have added new twists to the age-old craft.

“Designers are modernising and refreshing the aesthetic,” says Laura Preston, founder and designer at Vacilando Quilting Co in Austin, Texas. Since she introduced wall quilts in 2018, she says, they have become the company’s bestsellers.

“Hanging a quilt on the wall or incorporating quilted items into your home is a tactile alternative to traditional décor that can provide texture, softness, and even sound dampening,’’ Preston says.

Other uses of quilts in décor: “We’ve made quilted pillows, pouches, table runners, and even coats and hope to continue experimenting and pushing the boundaries of what a quilt can be,” she says.

MIXING OLD AND NEW

Los Angeles-based artist Sabrina Gschwandtner has created a quilt series, stitching together 16mm and 35mm film strips and backlighting them with a lightbox to illuminate the patterns. She began the project “Hands at Work” in 2009 when a friend gave her some film being cleared out of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Anthology Film Archives.

One example from the collection will be on view at Bentonville, Arkansas’ Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art, in February. Gschwandtner has other works at Los Angeles’ Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

The project “uses film from every film in my collection”, she says, and includes footage “of hands at work on many forms of craft, like dyeing, knitting, crocheting, and quilting”.

Another quilt artist, Colleen Clines, went to India while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. Working with textiles with women there inspired her to found the non-profit Anchal Project with her sister, Maggie. They now employ over 150 artisans in India as well as in their native Louisville, Kentucky. Their minimalist quilt designs (some available at the retailer Brooklinen ) reference landscapes, architecture, and photographs

Other quilters are melding the motifs of vintage fabrics with modern design. The retailer Garnet Hill’s Johanna quilt, for instance, features mini-floral printed circles laid out in a grid and sown on to a solid background. The Agnes quilt has a graphic block-print pattern in either vibrant red or soft grey on a creamy white background.

And at Kiva Motnyk’s Thompson Street Studio in New York City, there is a patchwork quilt fashioned from over 200 pieces in an array of blues, creams, and whites. It calls to mind vintage ceramic tiles as well as traditional quilt squares. Her Sol cotton/linen quilt is a geometric abstract rendered in soft hues of berry, lavender, and pink.

DISPLAYING QUILTS

Brooklyn-based quilt maker Caroline Z. Hurley offers a large ash wood quilt hanger. Clamp the edge of the textile between two wooden straps, and an aluminium cleat attaches it to the wall.

Vacilando’s wall quilts come with a wooden dowel and hanging tabs.

You might want to mount your quilt on something. Williams’ site suggests materials like foamcore or composite board.

The Louise Gray studio in Minneapolis offers two sizes of quilt hangers, small and large. Choose hickory or walnut wood, with black, brass, or silver hardware. The studio’s “little quilts” measure 3-by-4 feet. Designs are minimalist, and the colour palette is a soothing mix of hues like nutmeg, peach, heather, mango, and yarrow.

Mini quilts, or quilt fragments, can also be framed in shadow boxes or sturdy picture frames. You will find DIY videos online.

New York interior designer Glenn Gissler, who frequently includes contemporary wall art in his projects, advises quilt owners to take care with the textiles.

“They need to be out of direct sun. Keeping air around them would be a good idea,” he advises. “And give them a gentle but thorough shake now and then to remove dust.”

Kim Cook writes frequently about homes and design for The Associated Press. She blogs at www.kimcookhome.com.