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Sunday, October 23, 2005


Hotwash from Houston -- Glorious Quilts!

Sunny Girls, Mosaic quilt by Pat Durbin of Eureka, California
International Quilt Festival, Houston, TX

The Quilt Channel/Planet Patchwork crew has just finished two exhausting but exciting days at the Houston Quilt Market, where we walked miles in the aisles of the Houston Convention Center, previewed new products, watched demonstrations, and talked with authors, editors, and teachers from all over the world. We also got an early look at the marvelous quilts and dolls in more than 30 juried exhibitions. As always, they were simply amazing.

We'll have news of the latest labor-saving products and inspiring books for quilters in further entries, but first we want to talk about the quilts. When we get home, we'll be posting a gallery of selected quilts from the show at Planet Patchwork for those who were not able to get to Texas this year. Among the more interesting exhibits was a small, charming collection of quilts entitled "I Remember Mama," which paid textile homage to mothers in a variety of ways, many including photo transfers. As follow-up to last year's "Women of Biblical Proportion" exhibit, featuring small wall quilts based on women from the Bible, this year we had "Men of Biblical Proportion." There were two striking things about this exhibit -- it was sponsored by last year's group of women quilters who did the Biblical quilts, and all of the quilts in this year's collection were designed and quilted by men. You find the occasional male quilter in any environment, but the huge number of quilts by men in this exhibit was astonishing. (A CD-ROM of this entire exhibit is available from the International Quilters Association, with proceeds going to the Multiple Sclerosis Society).

Another colorful exhibit featuring a male quilter was Kaffe Fassett's "Victoria and Albert Quilts." We were fortunate enough to attend a tour of this exhibit led by Fassett, who talked about how the quilts were inspired by the large textile collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, with many given a modern twist using Fassett's fabrics. An exhibit celebrating the work of quilt artist Carol Doak featured many examples of her work, including a quilt which included all 350 of her paper-pieced stars.

There was also another large collection of Journal Quilts, a genre which has gained great popularity in recent years as a way for quilters to explore their creativity by making series' of small wall hangings as a form of autobiography. We could have spent hours studying these thoughtful and wildly diverse miniature quilts.

A dramatic series of flower quilts was displayed under the title "In Full Bloom" and a very unusual collection of three-dimensional quilts was presented as "Tactile Architecture." Last but not least, there were the cloth dolls. One of the challenges this year was on a Gypsy theme, and the energies released by this theme were truly amazing.

One nice thing about seeing the quilt exhibits during Market rather than Festival is that it is much less crowded, and we were able to spend "private time" with many unique and stunningly beautiful works of art. One of our favorites was Pat Durbin's breathtaking mosaic shown above. This quilt contains more than 23,000 half-inch squares!

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