Covered Bridge, quilt and photo by Deborah Alderman.
Deep Woods, quilt and photo by Deborah Alderman.
People come into their love of quilts and quilting by a variety of means. But the springboard for Deborah Alderman’s evolution into a full-fledged quilt artist may be one of the most curious. A tree fungus—namely the Artist’s Conk or “shelf mushroom”—was the starting point for what has become Deborah’s passion for creating what she calls “quilted landscapes with a Vermont theme.”
Back when her now-grown daughter was in Girl Scouts, Deborah accompanied the troop on a nature hike. It was there that she discovered the Artist’s Conk, and soon after, she began to etch scenes on the fungus’ pale surface. Over the next 14 years, she became so proficient at it that she sold more than 21,000 pieces of etched Artist’s Conk at craft shows throughout Vermont.
Despite her success, she began to feel limited by the lack of color in the fungus and wanted to transition to a medium that would allow her to explore color. Deborah describes it this way: “When it was time to make a change, I knew I wanted to express my art in a medium that would include lots of color. That is what drew me to the landscape quilt. It blends the skills I learned etching on the fungus with a new and exciting world of color. And what better place to find color than in Vermont? The autumn foliage, in particular, is so perfectly rendered through my technique. When the mountains, pastures, farms, and covered bridges combine with the autumn foliage, the results can be stunning.”
Deborah’s impressionistic pieces are all wallhanging size and combine a variety of techniques, such as raw-edge appliqué and fusion, along with all sorts of fabrics, including those she hand dyes herself to create the skies in her landscapes. She cuts her materials into tiny pieces sorted by color. When the scene is composed to her satisfaction, Deborah covers the pieces with tulle netting and machine quilts the whole.
Her quilted landscapes have gained much recognition, especially in her adopted state of Vermont (she originally hails from Southern California). Deborah’s work has been exhibited at the Vermont State House in Montpelier as well as the office of the Governor of Vermont.
“I had zero exposure to quilts growing up,” says Deborah, adding, “My college education was in the sciences and my work experience was with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Quilts and quilting may not have been in Deborah’s background, but then, neither was tree fungus! It just goes to show that an artist’s talent will express itself, regardless of the chosen medium.
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Column 78: Ollie Steele Burden’s Quilt Blocks
Column 77: Quilting with AMD
Column 76: Maverick Quilts and Cowgirls
Column 75: The Modern Quilt Guild—Cyberculture Quilting Ramps Up
Column 74: The Membership Quilt—Czech Quilting in Texas
Column 73: Maximum Security Quilts
Column 72: Author: Terri Thayer
Column 71: The Christmas Quilt
Column 70: New Mexico Centennial Quilt
Column 69: Scrub Quilts
Column 68: “Think Pink” Quilt Raises Funds for Rare Cancer Research
Column 67: Righting Old Wrongs.
Column 66: 100 Years, 100 Quilts - More on the Arizona Centennial.
Column 65: Arizona Centennial Quilt Project
Column 64: Capt. John Files Tom’s Family Tree
Column 63: The Fat Quarters
Column 62: Quilt Fiction Author: Clare O’Donohue
Column 61: Louisiana Bicentennial Quilt
Column 60: The Camo Quilt Project.
Column 59: Thread Wit
Column 58: Ralli Quilts
Column 57: Preschool Quilters
Column 56: The Story Quilt
Column 55: Red and Green Quilts
Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
Column 49: More Than a Quilt Shop
Column 48: Las Colchas of the Texas-Mexico Border
Column 47: Literary Gifts
Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
Column 44: Hen and Chicks
Column 43: A Star Studied Event
Column 42: Shoo
Column 41: Awareness Quilts
Column 40: Tivaevae
Column 39: UnOILed UnspOILed Coast Quilt Project
Column 38: Katrina Recovery Quilts
Column 37: Quilted Vermont
Column 36: The Labyrinth Quilt—A Meditative Endeavor
See other archived columns here