My sister and I went to soak up inspiration at the American Craft Council show here in Saint Paul last Sunday. If you are not familiar with these shows, they are juried events with textile arts, woodworking, jewelry, glass work, and so much more. There were almost 250 booths full of amazing works. I loved seeing the stunning porcelain, the richly crafted wooden bowls and art, the wide variety of pottery and jewelry, handbags, hats, and the unexpected things that can show up. But my favorite booths to see, and to visit with the artisans, are always the textile booths. These pictures just do not do justice to the works shown, so I hope you will visit the linked websites to view some very stunning artistry.
Janie Lou Quilts, from Saint Louis, Missouri, was one of the two quilter’s booths in this years event. Sisters Jane Vogl and Jenny Clinard have a relatively new enterprise, offering custom quilts, ready-made ones, and an online store. Their booth was full of fresh-colored quilts, giving me the sense of walking into a porch full of vintage quilts out for show. A retired nurse, Jane appears to be the driving force behind this venture. Jenny claims to “just help piece,” but the precision of all the corners is a testament to both of their skills. This was their first year at the ACC show, and I hope they will continue to take their quilts out to share with others.
Vermont quilter Marion Seasholtz, together with her glass-artist husband, has been participating in ACC shows for many years. Her nature-oriented fabrics and designs invite you in to her booth for a closer look. Many of her batiks quilts feature her own block printed images of leaves and ferns, in carefully chosen subtle colors. Marion has an eye for sumptuous, earthy colors and shading.
It was personally interesting for me to see two textile-related booths feature artists who have come from my childhood home in Stillwater, Minnesota. Harding Design Studio features wall and wearable art made from finely appliqued and manipulated silks in amazing color patterns. Their work is displayed in dozens of galleries around the country, and was featured in the acclaimed book Art To Wear, by Julie Schafler Dale. Photos can not show the intricacies in texture obtained from stitching, twisting, fraying, and layering perfectly dyed silk strips in ornate designs. Quilters will delight in all their work on their website, from the jackets and kimonos to the alluring wall art.
A Stillwater alumni now living in New York State, Sally Jones is an extraordinary screen-printer. Her silk scarves and stylish vests and jackets are elegantly simple and very appealing. But it may just be her use of color that is most impressive, showing a perfect balance of clean, vivid colors handled with great subtlety. Her website features photos of her art in process, as she and an assistant arrange screens and work the dyes through. I find Sally to be an amazing fabric designer, and am encouraging her to consider doing designs for quilting cottons. My bias may show, as Sally is a life-long family friend, but take a look at her collections online and tell me that you do not want to see them in a fabric store near you!
Walking through the booths, I was instantly drawn to the work of fiber artist Jan Friedman. It was the texture and color that caught my eye, and a closer look revealed the great care this Iowa City, Iowa artist takes with her work. Her tapestries are created from hand-dyed silks and cottons, with surprise touches of metal and more. The shading is perfect and adds depth to her wall art. Cotton strips are sometimes woven in, giving a textural effect that pops off the tapestry. I hope you will take a good look through her site. Me? I am ready to head to Iowa City to take one of her color or collage workshops!
Textile artists and clothing designers Lynn Joris Reintsema and K. Meta Reintsema have participated in the ACC Shows for several years. This year these New Yorkers received a 2011 Award of Excellence, being cited for their mastery of material and strong design elements. Their clothing, mostly wools and linens, are unique but very wearable. Through color-blocking and dimensional stitching, the line and fit of their work is extremely appealing. Some items are very subdued and monochromatic, but others pop with color. The beauty is in the details, the unexpected seam lines, the angles that bring out the drape of the fabric.
There were dozens of other textile-related booths, but Beryl Schmid Weaving was certainly a favorite. A hand-weaver from Indianapolis, Indiana, she was a 2010 winner of the Award of Excellence at this event. A glance at her booth tells you why, with dozens of finely woven scarves and shawls just calling you to come in and take a closer look. While she is admittedly web-shy and has no online presence, her work has been widely displayed across the country. Beryl shared that, as she works with very fine threads of silk and other materials, it can take over one day just to load the threads in her loom. Each of these threadings will allow her to weave five or six scarves, no two alike, producing one a day until it is time to reload. Her eye for color is impressive, her work simply glows against the black booth walls.
If you live in a city that hosts one of these shows, it is well worth the time to go. The creative energy at these events is so strong, you will go home ready to finish all your UFO’s quickly, just so you can try something new. The next show is in San Francisco, August 14-15, 2011, but check their website for future shows. They also publish the American Craft Magazine.
©2011, The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com.