The Quilt Scout
by Mary Fons
Beauty In Pieces:
Though rain fell through the week, by the time the International Quilt Festival opened its doors in Chicago (okay, technically Rosemont) on April 6, the weather had turned mild and pleasant. All those quilts brought the good weather with them, of course. Don’t the weathermen know that “quilts bring good vibes” is a law of the universe?
Many months ago, as reported by Quilt Festival and yours truly, a special exhibit was planned for the spring show. We called it “Beauty In Pieces: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century,” and it was my pleasure to co-curate the show with Quilts, Inc.’s New Media Manager, Rhianna Griffin.
Twenty-five Degrees of Connection, by Leah Hewitt. Detail.(Leah was the quilter in attendance on the tour!)
I worked closely with Rhianna and the Quilts, Inc. team (hi, Becky!) to make the plane fly, as they say. Rhianna and I selected 32 quilts in total, and we felt we got a terrific cross-section of many kinds of scrap quilts that quilters are making today.
We were more right about that than we realized, if I do say so myself.
Seeing quilt submissions on a computer screen is one thing, but seeing quilts in person is another. (And that, friends, is worth repeating: Seeing quilts on a computer screen is one thing; seeing quilts in person is another. Always go to quilt shows — and take the Pinterest quilters with you.)
The purpose of the exhibit was to show the variety and the soul that tends to shine through in even the humblest scrap quilt. When you are working with lots of fabrics, whether they’re little bits or big swathes, your brain works a little differently than it does when you’re putting together a quilt with, say, six fabrics.
Of course, no quilt is better than the next in terms of approach, but as I led walking tours through the exhibit that weekend, I fell in love all over again with the ingenuity and the creativity of the scrap quilt.
Visitors/Cubs fans were delighted by The Wait is Over by Sandra Clemens.
I also fell in love with giving walking tours and hope I can do it again. If I do, I hope you’ll join me. The tours were a great addition to the exhibit and I urge you to attend one when they’re offered, whomever the host may be.
What you get with a tour, of course, is a deeper appreciation of the context and the meaning of an object, and it’s educational to look closely at how a quilter may have constructed a quilt or thought about it, at least. (If you’re a quilt nerd like me, I don’t need to convince you!). One highlight on Friday was the presence of one of the makers! We heard from the quilter herself how she made her quilt. It was great.
But the best part, the real special treat, was that my mother, Marianne Fons, came into town to visit that weekend and she hopped on as my co-commentator for the first walking tour. There’s nothing I like better than looking and talking about quilts unless it’s looking at and talking about quilts with Mom.
Both tours had impressive numbers in terms of attendance; I’d say there were 40 or so people who joined us on Friday and again on Saturday.
I want to thank all the quilters who submitted quilts for the exhibit. We couldn’t take all of them, of course, due to space constraints and so forth. But I think it’s possible there would be a “Beauty In Pieces II,” and if there is, you better believe I’ll be there, walking and talking in all that scrappy brilliance.
Oh, the scrappy greatness! Enchantment, detail. Quilt by Julie Brandon,Kathi Everett, and Val Schultz.