Davina Thomas gives an overview of the Two Person category at the Festival of Quilts 2007
Once again Popular Patchwork sponsored the Two Person category at the Festival of Quilts. This means we provide the prize money, not that I have to judge the quilts. This is just as well as I still believe it is one of the trickiest categories to judge. So a big thank you to our three judges this year: Pauline Adams, Hilary Cooding and Greta Fitchett. They were assisted by trainee judge Mary Lowe. What I like best about the Two Person category is that it includes something for everyone: there are traditional designs. contemporary designs; large quilts and small quilts. They can be hand appliquéd or made completely on the machine. Some are made by relative Beginners and others are made by experienced professionals. There are quilts that are pieced and then sent away to be longarm quilted and others where two friends get together to plan the design and each sew separate sections. With nearly 40 entries, I can't unfortunately show them all so here is a selection covering different aspects of the category
Using reverse hand appliqué Gay Jenkins and Nic Bridges achieved second place with Thank You Matisse. It is a simple design inspired by a Matisse paper cutout. The restrained palette of blues and white was enhanced by swirls of quilting in variegated blue and white threads creating extra pattern and colour. In contrast was the bright batik quilt Amanda's Batik Dream by Ann Stamp and Margaret of Quilters Forum. The batik fabric had been bought for Ann's daughter's wedding and the quilt was a reminder of her big day. With hand appliqué and embroidery, it was really a labour of love. The contrast of scale with the larger motifs on the plain squares worked well with the smaller cutouts surrounded with log cabin borders to create the frames. Julia Oakshott used the freezer paper appliqué technique cormbined with needle turn and silk thread to sew her beautiful leaves on Autumn Glory. Again, batik fabrics have been used but with the autumnal colour scheme it is a softer interpretation; it was quilted by Mandy Parks.
A few years in the making, Natalie Taylor's Eleanor's Pansy Quilt was started for her daughter Eleanor's 18th birthday. Now 24, Eleanor must be delighted with the finished result. It was enlarged along the way to fit a new bed and was quilted by Lynne Taylor. The combinations of large and small pansy blocks add interest and the flower colours really glow against the softer greens of the borders. One of two Trip Around the World quilts, Jill Adamson's Trip around Debden Twice was started at a summer school at Debden. It was Jill's first large project and was quilted by Anne at Quilt Workshop in Leicester. "3695 and Counting is a clue" I think to the number of pieces in this quilt by Barbara Webber and Amanda Hall. Barbara designed and pieced the quilt inspired by a picture in a calendar and following a requested colour scheme of yellow and blue. The centre was then quilted by Amanda using a Janome on a Gracie quilt frame and returned to Barbara to quilt the borders. Again, the change in scale of the blocks works so well. Uniform New York Beauty blocks are lovely, but the difference in size used here adds such a lot to the finished design. Another complex pieced quilt was Medway Maze by Elaine Mainwaring and Carol Davidson. It was started at a workshop with Jan Hassard in February 2006 based on Jan's Strips Galore technique. It involves strip piecing, then cutting and reassembling. I hope it is less complicated to sew than it looks; what a brilliant effect.
Many of the quilts sown combined piecing and appliqué and indeed often other techniques too, such as fabric painting or printing, but it is not often you find knitting on a quilt top. Maybe it was because A Country Festival was made by two Germans, Horst Schulz and Karola Rose that it included knitting. They explained that they had tried to evoke the simple country life with traditional handwork techniques of knitting and sewing. The layers of interest from the small knitted additions ensured it was always surrounded by crowds at the show. Another unusual quilt was Quilting Crazy by Christine Dixon and Kathleen Fisher. It was based on a quilt from the York Castle Museum and had bands of crazy patchwork separated by bands of narrow chevrons. It was mainly sewn with recycled velvets and silks. It is a good idea for a group quilt too, as each member could make one strip and it wouldn't matter if it was slightly wider or narrower than the others. I wonder who gets to keep this quilt; will it be Christine or Kathleen? Maybe they are going to make a different one next year for the other one. It is mysteries like that which add interest to a show, wondering about the makers and their lives, the countries they come from and the stories behind the quilts. One this year, Not To Worry; was made from the shirts of her partner who had died suddenly. I can't imagine how difficult that must have been, but better made into a quilt than in the rubbish dump. I hope that the quilter, Alexis Watson will find some comfort from sitting with the quilt thinking happy memories.
In third place were Eszter Bornemesiza and Judit Csana'di from Hungary, with their stunning quilt Fractal. Fractals are fragmented shapes containing smaller copies of the whole buried inside the larger portion. In theory they can continue for infinity. Eszter chose to represent this in great detail using discharged and dyed and hand printed fabrics with free collage and machine quilting. If you look closely you should see the smaller images and the larger repeats too. ln second place, as already mentioned, were Gay Jenkins and Nic Bridges and in First place were Gabriele Mett and Robert Horn of Germany. Robert is an artist and Gabriele uses his drawings as starting points for her quilts. They manage to include the drawing on paper, handmade felt, appliqué, embroidery and machine quilting, all on one quilt. Gabriele was also a winner last year. I wonder what everyone will come up with next year.
There were two different groups of quilters I met at the exhibition: one group go home dismayed as everyone else is better than they think they will ever be and the second group go home inspired to have a go next year and be part of the greatest quilt show in Europe. I do hope you are part of the second group, but if you are one of those who wants to throw in the towel, please don't. We need everyone to keep entering to make it a show we can all enjoy. Other people will value your efforts and they won't see all the 'errors' you see in your quilt. Let's all resolve to enter a show next year. Whether it is a small local show, one of the many held around the country or a major show like this one. Without the ordinary quilters like you and me there would be no show and no spectacle for everyone to enjoy. See you there.
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