Beth Markel

Posted on August 17, 2015 by Beth Markel

I was off the grid somewhat this summer, finishing 2 super-secret large pieces, so now want to take the opportunity to catch up a bit more.  AQS Grand Rapids was last week, and the show itself was excellent.  The quality and diversity of quilts was remarkable, and the exhibit included the Cherrywood “Wicked” Challenge (LOVE Cherrywood fabrics!), the wildly colorful and interesting Brenda Gael Smith’s traveling exhibit of banner quilts from around the world which depict “life” – as well as some from the National Quilt Museum, numerous guild challenges, the Egyptian quilts, and many others.  One of my favorite quilts came from the traveling SAQA Challenge, “Wide Horizons” curated from European/Asian SAQA members, “Reed” by Wietske Kluck of the Netherlands:

"Reed" by Wietske Kluck, the Netherlands

So while walking around, I heard fabric calling my name, and bought (7) 1-yd. cuts of  colorful Dupioni Silk.  I’ve worked with cottons, linens and some wool & silk, but have in mind a pieced work with this sexy, luxurious, fabulous fabric.  Has anybody pieced silk, or silk AND cotton together, and does anybody have any pointers?  It’s like candy for my eyes, but I might be in over my head:  black, white, steel grey, gold, teal, bright red, and hot pink.


Also related to a SAQA Challenge, I started a piece in response to the works of Marie Webster.  In case you haven’t met Marie before, she was an inventive and industrious woman who lived in the early part of the 1900’s, and if your grandmother made quilts, it’s entirely possible she used a pattern by Marie Webster published in the Ladies’ Home Journal.  I was part of a discussion last week where a couple of quilters said they would never make anything as “trite” as flowers.  I also was a dissenting voice in a dialogue that determined only “traditional” piecing and applique was acceptable to be called a “quilt.”

I disagreed, politely, with both of those points of view!  As a gardener from a very young age, I love to spend time gardening – watering, cutting, designing what plant goes where, etc. and simply think flowers are lovely.  I’m fascinated how daylilies only bloom for a day, and lilies are so fragrant they perfume your entire home.  Am I going to make a Baltimore Album anytime soon?  No.  But that’s because I don’t believe I have the patience to do that amount of applique.  I appreciate the workmanship AND beauty of such a piece, though!  Do I want to be locked into thinking that only piecing and applique make a quilt?  No!  I love to experiment with resist, fabric dyes and paints, inks, metallic threads, beading, indigo, and 100 other techniques which I come across.  I started this SAQA Challenge quilt as a modern response to Marie Webster’s quilts because I was raised with those patterns made into quilts and rotated in and out of the bedrooms by season.  They speak to me.  And Marie was a wild woman!  In a time of tightly-laced and strictly adhered to parameters…she placed red poinsettia petals OUTSIDE the “block” where they slightly overlapped the outside trim.  Un. Heard. Of.  I like that about her!  So I’ve started my modern response to her poinsettia quilt…gel glue resist, dye, fabric markers and applique, so far…


Finally, a piece I began just today in response to the time spent in a city.  My darling husband hates being in the city – any city, really, from Tokyo to New York to Berlin– because of the pace, the bustle, the sheer number of people around, and the driving!  I love to be in the city – New York, Boston, Dallas… On our way home, driving through the many miles of ripe, golden corn, green soybeans, sunflowers, and summer wheat, I kept thinking about the cities built all through this country, on a river, lake, or stream.  Also, this time of year the night sky is alive with comet dust and falling stars, none of which you can see from the city – light pollution – one aspect of the city I don’t love.  Like the above poinsettia piece, this is in its’ very early stages.

Country vs City

Make Art happen today!




Carolyn on August 17, 2015

I saw your quilt in GR and loved it again!

Leave a Comment