Tag Archives: abstract art quilt

Contemporary Swiss and European Patchwork

A major part of my recent trip to Europe was participation in a family reunion in Neuchatel, Switzerland.  While there I had a discussion with Caroline Junier, a cousin (I think we have the same great-grandfather, if I have kept my family history straight), who until recently worked for the Neuchatel Museum of Art and History.

Naturally we discussed quilting and I showed Caroline some photos of my quilts.  She explained that there is a very active quilting (they call it Patchwork in Europe) community in and around Neuchatel.  In fact she believes it is the largest such community in Switzerland.  In her capacity at the Museum, she was very involved in putting together a number of quilt exhibitions.  She offered to provide me with the catalogs from three of the exhibitions, and delivered them to me at my hotel the next day.

I was very impressed with the quality of both the quilts and the catalogs, which are beautifully done.  Funding support for the exhibitions and the catalogs (if I am translating the French correctly) was provided by Bernina (our sewing machine friends), Loterie Romande (I don’t know who they are but it sounds like a Lottery), and Migros (big grocery store chain in Switzerland).

I have shown the catalogs to several members of my quilt guild and they enjoyed seeing them very much.  I wish I could show you photos here, but of course the images are copyrighted.  I include some web links and names below where you can see some of the work.

The following is a translation of the introduction to the catalog by some of the organizers.  I first used Google translate to get this from the original French to English, and did some fairly loose intrepretation so that it would make sense.  My apologies to anyone I may offend by my errors in translation!

“After having organized three exhibitions of contemporary patchwork of national importance in 1986, 1989 and 1993, Neuchatel Museum of Art and History once again wishes to show Patchwork to a wider audience, as well as how the assembly of textile elements has evolved and has become a means of art expression  in its own right in Switzerland and Europe.

Caroline Junier, curator of the department of applied art of the Museum of Art and History in Neuchatel, has organized this new exhibit, EXNA 4 in 2010. For her availability, expertise and usual dynamism, as in 1993, we are very grateful.

We are grateful to the jury who, thanks to their skills and knowledge in the contemporary art world, with impartiality selected fifty-two works from those presented in the contest.

We also thank the forty-one invited artists- among the best in Europe – who responded eagerly to our request and have enabled the exposition to present their works in the unique format selected: 35 by 35 cm.

by Maryline Collioud-Robert, Lucienne Hool, and Zibull Masson”

I have tried to find a good link to photos of the included quilts and failed to find more than a few photos.   You can find them yourself by searching for “EXNA 4 Patchwork Contemporain Suisse & Europeen”.  One of the organizers, Maryline Collioud-Robert, has a web site and blog.  She had three quilts in the show and shows these and others of her quilts at her blog: http://www.marylinecollioudrobert.com/en/Home.html .

Other quilters with multiple quilts in the show and current web presence were :     Beata Keller-Kerchner, Cecile Trentini, and Malou Zryd.  You can find some images of their work by typing their names in to the usual search engines.  Nearly all the work is very contemporary, usually abstract, and visually striking. There is a lot of use of texture in the exhibit, much more so than in the earlier 1986 and 1993 exhibits for which I also have catalogs.

Completion of “Working In Series” quilts

I have completed six quilts in my Working In Series class, and will show all of them in this post.  The class was very challenging and I recommend it highly for any of you interested in producing more art quilts.  Again, the class is taught by Elizabeth Barton through the Academy of Quilting (www.academyofquilting.com) .

Here are the quilts, in the order I completed them.

1.  Blue spheres.  The background is hand painted.  A variety of white on white fabrics were used for the strips.  The spheres started with circles in several blue and green fabrics.  The shading was produced with a white Paintstik (see earlier post for details).

Blue Spheres

Blue Spheres

2. Purple circles.  Deep purple background fabric, lavender strips (some hand painted), and a variety of purple circles.

Purple on Lavender

Purple on Lavender

3. Purple circles on yellow strips.  Half the yellow strips were painted with a diluted brown paint to darken them slightly to add more depth.  The background is dark purple.  A variety of purple and blue fabrics were used for the circles.

Purple on Yellow Strips

Purple on Yellow Strips

4. Black and white and red.  Black background fabric,  A variety of black and white prints for the strips.  Red-orange circles.

BLack and white strips with orange red circles

BLack and white strips with orange red circles

5. Blue, tan, and red.  Here circles were cut out of the original circles.  I like this idea and want to explore it further.

Blue tan and red

Blue tan and red

6. Cream, Blue gray and brown.  The blue gray strip fabric was a handpainted piece left over from a previous fabric painting class taught by Michelle Scott.


Cream BlueGray and Brown

Cream BlueGray and Brown


I can think of many ways to explore this theme further, and look forward to doing so in the future.

New art quilts

I have finished a couple of little quilts I started in the art quilting class I took from Marilyn Belford last spring.  The first is a still life made using the Broderie Perse technique.  The background is a commerically made gradated fabric for the lower part and a light mottled print for the top. A lighter gradated fabric was used for the pear.

A fusible web was placed on the back of a rose floral print and the individual flowers cut out.  Leaves were cut from a green fabric, and a vase shape made from the black.  Then the pieces were arranged in a pleasing manner and fused down.   This process is fun and relaxed, since the pieces can be rearranged at will before fusing.  After fusing, the pieces were sewn down using free motion. A stabilizer was used on the back to keep the top from puckering during this stitching process.

Coordinating borders were added and the whole thing quilted. Walking foot quilting was used for the straight lines and free motion for the rest.

A rose floral arrangement made using the Broderie Perse technique.

A rose floral arrangement made using the Broderie Perse technique.

The second quilt is one that was a series of exercises in use of “negative space”.  Fusible web was placed on the back of a rectangle of green.  It was then cut up into smaller shapes, mostly rectangles.  The pieces were spread out on top of a blue print to leave gaps between.  I had to add a few additional small pieces to “fill in” the whole rectangle.  The pieces were fused down and stitched around the edges with a decorative stitch.

I then added the green border and did the binding in the blue print.  I wanted the binding to be a design element, so I cut 3 inch wide strips and sewed the binding on with a 7/16 inch seam allowance.  This results in a nice wide binding and the corners really miter into nice sharp points!  The rectangle and borders are done slightly asymmetrically – partly due to the placement of the cut up rectangle on the original piece of blue print.   I think it would have been better if I had either kept it all symmetric (cutting off some of the lower blue print) or made it more asymmetric, so that it looked more deliberate.  The quilting was all done with a walking foot.

A cut up rectangle demonstrates the use of negative space in a quilt design.

A cut up rectangle demonstrates the use of negative space in a quilt design.



Use of “negative space” in quilts

I am taking a class right now called “Art for Quilters”, taught by Marilyn Belford ( http://www.marilynbelford.com ) at Quilt University ( http://www.quiltuniversity.com ). One of the first homework assignments is in the use of “negative space” – that is, the space outside the design elements where there is no piecing or applique. Negative space is also one of the common elements of the Modern Quilting movement so popular currently. Although they don’t name it, traditional quilters often use negative space in the form of alternating plain blocks, plain setting triangles, or sashing. Negative space gives the eye a place to “rest” as it moves around the quilt. It helps emphasize the importance of the positive elements of the quilt.

I am pleased with the impact that can be achieved with simple geometric shapes and using a lot of negative space. Here are some examples from my class homework.

First, I cut a rough circle was out of a lavender fabric, cut it into irregular pieces, and then scattered them about on a purple background:

Cut up circle with negative space

Circle cut up for negative space exercise

Then, I cut a light grey square into strips and placed them on a very dark grey background:

Square cut in strips showing negative space

Square cut in strips for negative space exercise

I cut a green rectangle into smaller rectangles and other shapes and placed them on a blue print background:

Rectangle cut up for negative space exercise

Rectangle cut up for negative space exercise – I had to do some additional cutting to make the pieces fit on this one

And I cut up several black triangles and placed them on a marbled grey/mauve background:

Cut up triangles for negative space exercise

Cut up triangles for negative space exercise – this one looks sort of Native American to me

Aren’t these interesting? With some appropriate borders and free motion quilting in the negative space, I think these are going to make dramatic little quilts. I will report more progress as I continue.

I am very pleased with this teacher and the class materials so far. Marilyn Belford also teaches a class called Realistic Fabric Portraits at QU that starts June 28. She has a book available on the same topic Portraits For Fabric Lovers  (if you click on the name here it will take you to Amazon to buy the book, so don’t click unless you want to do that).

I was saddened to find out that Quilt University – where I have taken many classes and learned so much – is shutting down at the end of this calendar year. It was founded by Carol Miller who recently died after a short illness. Her husband Roger, who was always the technical guy behind the scenes, has decided to have a graceful shutdown and allow all us QU addicts to take the classes we have been putting off. I am going to be very busy for the next few months trying to do just that.