About two years ago I completed hand-embroidered squares for a quilt of our country’s 50 states, each piece of the quilt represented a state and included the name of the state, the state bird, and the state flower. With the help of our family’s dear Amish friends in La Grange, Indiana, I was able to have the squares sewn together and the quilting finished with their impeccable hand stitching. This is the same family that used to help my mother with housekeeping around her home for some 40 years. With a family of 11 children there was always someone who was able to help out when needed.
As I shared this project with many friends, they suggested that I check with our Topanga Library to see if it would be possible to display the quilt there for the community to view. The library was very receptive and the quilt was placed on display for the summer of 2017. I received many comments of appreciation for that labor of love which had taken me a total of eight years to complete.
I began to tire of embroidery during the weeks I spent with my mother in the dead winter months of Indiana and decided to shift my “art form” to coloring. A dear friend and artist told me adult coloring books were in and available in a few stores so off I went to find them.
It was so much fun to begin to color again, just as I remembered from elementary school. I loved coloring pictures of animals, flowers, trees, butterflies, fruit, boats, abstract images. You name it, I colored it! At the end of 2018 I had completed more than 100 images and began to imagine how they might look made into another quilt. With some research, I found the materials needed to begin what is called art quilting. This is created by using both modern and traditional quilting techniques to create art objects.
Practitioners of quilt art create it based on their experiences, imagery, and ideas rather than traditional patterns. Quilt art generally has more in common with the fine arts than it does with traditional quilting. I found an art supply house that offered cotton fabric squares already adhered to plain paper which I could use to print my colored images on my home printer.
When the printing was complete, once again I took the pieces to my Amish friends. They were more than happy to sew the squares together and do the quilting. I must say they were very curious as to what I had envisioned. They had never seen, much less sewed together, a quilt with so many different images. It took five or six women working in their limited spare time, about two months to complete the task. I know they were as excited as I was to see the finished work.
The colorful quilt is on display in the Topanga Library beginning the week of July 8, and for several weeks thereafter.
My hope is that it might help your imagined visions and ideas come to life, as it did mine.
By Karen Sherwood