Saturday, September 27, 2014

NW Quilting Expo: Eye-Popping Modern Quilts

"Churn-Dash 2" by Martha Peterson (with Chandra Wu & Deborah Ferguson)
The Northwest Quilting Expo was at the Portland Expo Center over the last three days, and what a show it was! One of the best in its 14-year history. During the years I have attended, there has been a shift in the type of quilts in the show. There are fewer of the glittery show quilts lavishly quilted and full of crystals; fewer traditional quilts, and more Modern quilts.

Seattle Modern Quilt Guild was this year's guest Modern guild, and I was very impressed with their work. "Churn-Dash 2" by Martha Peterson, an improvisational round robin style quilt made with Chandra Wu and Deborah Ferguson, was my favorite quilt in the show. For me, it represented an updated, elegant expression of Cubism. In a lot of ways, I liked the quilt better than a cubist painting. Crisp and architectural, it sparkled much more than any of the show quilts covered in crystals.

"Reflections" by Carol Parks also knocked my socks off. It was part of the exhibit of quilts inspired by Portland bridges-- a wonderful exhibit with many fine quilts, several made by people I know and admire.

"Plymouth Rocks 1" by SMQG members, quilted by Sandie Holtman
Two quilts made for a Seattle Modern Quilt Guild solids challenge were also among my favorites, and in reviewing all the pictures, I was starting to see a theme among the quilts that really stopped me in my tracks. I was much more interested in the bold, improvisational, geometric pieced quilts than anything else in the show.

"Plymouth Rocks 2" by SMQG members, quilted by Lisa Nolte
"Happy Encounter; Gwen Meets Karla, Karla Meets Angela" by Jackie Benedetti
Another modern quilt that made me swoon was "Happy Encounter; Gwen Meets Karla, Karla Meets Angela" by Jackie Benedetti. Blocks were inspired by and created during workshops by Gwen Marston and Karla Alexander, and Angela Walters did the quilting. Loved everything about it.

quilting by Angela Walters
There were some quilts that were not necessarily modern, but were fresh and new in their own ways. "Tileworks III" by Mary Kay Price was among my favorites. The quilt was inspired by handmade tiles, and patches were painted with shiva oils to suggest the curve of the tiles.

"Tileworks III" by Mary Kay Price
detail- "Tileworks III" by Mary Kay Price
Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA) was another one of the exhibits, and two of my favorite quilts were side by side. "Sahalie Falls" by Amanda Miller and "Rejuvenation" by Jean Wells made quite a pair. Both were improvisationally pieced using textured fabrics in rich earth tones.

"Sahalie Falls" by Amanda Miller 
"Rejuvenation" by Jean Wells
Of course, there were plenty of epic quilts that were not of the modern ilk, and three of my favorites were one-of-a-kind original designs. The "Arizona Centennial Commemorative Quilt" by the Arizona State Quilt Guild; "On a Quilted Breeze" by the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild; and "American Woman (Hippe)" by Kim Diamond and Jo Ann Blade were very special indeed.

The Arizona Centennial Commemorative Quilt
The Arizona Centennial Commemorative Quilt (detail)
"On a Quilted Breeze" 2010, by the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild
"American Woman (Hippe)" by Kim Diamond and Jo Ann Blade
There was lots to see, plenty of vendors, special exhibits, raffle quilts, and bed turnings of antique and vintage quilts by Latimer Quilt & Textile Center. Kudos to the event organizers and all the quiltmakers on an especially stunning show this year. Can't wait for next year's show!


  1. What a great show! Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  2. WHOA! Some of those quilts are pretty epic. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the report. I love that Churn Dash quilt too. I had the opportunity to see Tileworks (or another in the same series) in VA. It really must be seen in person to get the full effect. The subtle variation in color and the effect of the shading on the block edges is really quite lovely.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I'm a big fan of improvisational quilts too!

  5. nice show. I'm partial to those moderns.

  6. Hey, Bill, the blue, orange and yellow quilt at the top of this post is actually by Susan Borger of the PMQG. The tag she made for it wasn't put up near the quilt, so it was easy to confuse makers! Such a great quilt.

  7. Thanks for the photos and comments about this show Bill. I was not able to get there! I've always loved orange and blue. These quilts knock my socks off!