Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Festival, Part One: Some Portrait Quilts

The International Quilt Festival in Houston every fall is the largest quilt exhibition in the world, and it is Houston's largest convention.  Since I began quilting in earnest in 1998, I've attended almost every year.  Sometimes taking classes, but often not--often just feasting my eyes on the hundreds of quilts.

This year I attended with friend Carolyn from Dallas.  We spent two days and one evening at the Festival, not only viewing the quilts, but also shopping. 

It is difficult to do so, but I've tried to narrow down the hundreds of pictures I took to some of my favorite ones.  Some are traditional, some are art quilts.  All are inspiring!  Because I'd like to comment on the quilts, I've decided to break my remarks about Festival 2010 into several different postings.  Today's post focuses on portrait quilts.

This quilt, a blue ribbon winning quilt in the "Group Quilt" category,
is an outstanding example of using fabrics creatively to depict the
shadings of a face.  These 10 women from Australia each did
self-portraits, with the daunting challenge of using
Kaffe Fassett-designed fabrics,
 not flesh-colored, plain, ones! 
A close-up will demonstrate how successfully these
quilters met the challenge!

A close-up from the group quilt.  Click to enlarge to better appreciate the unusual
choice of fabrics, yet the creative way this portrait "works"!

A close-up of the book
reading girl, showing
how artfully this quilt
artist has depicted the shading
on the girl's face with appliqued
fabrics of different values.

  This quilt appealed to me also because of my own love of reading and my memories of how, as a young girl, I would get lost in a book, as this lovely young girl is--so lost that the horses from
her book are literally leaping from its pages!  Another thing I love about this quilt is the way the artist has used traditional quilt blocks, skewed, yes, but still traditional, to depict the sky and in the green quilt (or is it green grass?) below the girl.  Most definitely this quilt and a few others I'll discuss later was in my "top 10" or maybe "top 5" favorites!
Here's a close-up of another portrait quilt.  This is a
lovely example of another way to render portraits in fabric--this beautiful
young woman's face has been painted with fabric paint.

Here's the painted quilt, which is called "The Solace of Persephone."


  1. What absolutely mind blowing quilts! Are the shadings on the portrait quilts and the book reading girl made with different fabrics? I really couldn't tell even when I enlarged the photos. Incredible! I guess the 3 women you recognized at the show were pictured on the Hanging by a Thread quilt. I loved the green quilt/grass of the reader's quilt.

  2. I love this blog posting. The Aussies did a fabulous job with the Fassett fabrics and their coordination although working with a smiling snapshot that is not usually interesting. Excellent work. Of course, being a book lover, the reader is my favorite for its movement and ideas. Your comments on the traditional quilt patterns in the landscape are appreciated! The last portrait is beautiful but I would have to see it in person to judge whether I like it for an art quilt. It is both! Does it go under the title Mixed Media or Art Quilt. So good.

  3. Amazing - I am consantly impressed by the art that quilting produces and appreciate your bringing it to my attention. Linda would concur, I think, that almost every quilt is a form of "journaling."