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 141: Tom Korn’s Military Medal Quilts
Column 140: The Return of Double Knits!
Column 139: Passage Quilts
Column 138: Home of the Brave Quilts
Column 137: The Story of Fabric Yo-Yos
Column 136: Christmas in July
Column 135: Trifles
Column 134: Deaf Initiatives—Communicating Through Quilts
Column 133: My Betty Boop Quilt
Column 132: Maura Grace Ambrose
Column 131: All You Need Is Love
Column 130: Chicken Linens
Column 129: The Quilted Chuppah
Column 128: Patchwork Around the World: Yoruba Dance Costumes
Column 127: The Bowers Co-Op Quilts
Column 126: Fon Appliqué and Haitian Voodoo Flags
Column 125: The Quilt Garden at The North Carolina Arboretum
Column 124: Harriet Powers and Handful’s Mauma
Column 123: Quilters de Mexico
Column 122: An Appliquéd Surprise
Column 121: Matisse’s Fabric Stash
Column 120: Soogan—The Cowboy’s Quilt
Column 119: The Ron Swanson Quilt
Column 118: HClarkdale, Georgia—A Thread of History
Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
See other archived columns here