Beth Markel

Circular Abstractions & Long-Arm Quilters

Posted on August 30, 2016 by Beth Markel

Last week was the world premier of Nancy Crow’s curated show: Circular Abstractions where 51 quilts from numerous countries were accepted for display.  It was a rather surreal moment to be walking around a beautiful museum filled with very large, monumental, really, works of art – where the medium was fabric.  I have 2 quilts on display, and while similar in construction, are completely different in scale.  I’m learning that change of scale can be just as dramatic, or maybe even more dramatic than color…and I LOVE to work with colors.  I love the way the drenched colors drip through my fingers when I am dying them, or the way they look when I’m cutting them, and how they vary when pared with neighbors.  All of that aside, however, the show itself is spectacular.  Truly.  It’s a testament to modern art, quilters, art-lovers, and textile-lovers.  I feel blessed to be part of it.  There’s also a strikingly beautiful book that was generated from the show, and is available through the Muskegon Museum of Art gift shop:

Now to the topic I really have been looking forward to for months – long-arm quilters.  I am blessed to have a couple of extremely talented long-arm quilters who quilt most of my large quilts.  Meet Kari Ruedisale & Ruth McCormick.  My quilts in the Circular Abstractions exhibit were both quilted by Kari.

So in preparation for the show, Nancy and I went around and around about including Kari’s name on the quilt descriptions.  I was adamant it should be included in the credits.  Nancy won, as she was working closely with all artists, the book-makers, and the museum, but I think in this case she might be incorrect.  There were a number of us who had other people quilt our quilts, and if they were paid for their service, and had no input into the “top’s design” then they were not included in the credits.

I certainly would not speak for any of the other artists, and have no idea how they feel about including the info I wanted displayed, but I had several sharp emails back and forth with Nancy about including Kari.  Her quilting makes my quilts sing!  I give her full credit for her work, and when asked by numerous visitors, I produced a copy of the quilt labels on the back.  It did not appear that she, along with any other long-arm artists were included in the credits, which I think is a shame.  The placard read, “machine quilted” in my case, or “machine quilted by artist” in cases where people had quilted their own work.

In my humble opinion….CREDIT where CREDIT is DUE!

Both Bull's Eye Labels for Nancy Crow

Ruth McCormick also does beautiful work as well, and I’ve depended on her for a number of years.  Just this spring she quilted the work I gave my son and darling DIL for their wedding.  Again, her quilting made my quilt.

I love the long-arm quilters who work behind the scenes, and firmly believe they are just as much of the process as making the top.  Am I going to buy a long-arm, or even a mid-arm any time soon?  Probably not.  Do I want to?  No, not really – not when there are such lovely and TALENTED artists out there doing what they do!

Kari Ruedisale's quilting in one of the Bull's Eye quilts

Kari Ruedisale’s quilting in one of the Bull’s Eye quilts

Ruth McCormick's quilting on an Audubon Quilt

Ruth McCormick’s quilting on an Audubon Quilt






Carolyn Solomon on August 30, 2016

I agree with you! As we all know, a quilt isn't a quilt until it is quilted! I am disappointed Nancy Crow was so adamant about not giving credit to long arm quilters who are not the quilt designer/piecera. Kudos to you, Beth for this blog.

Diane Simancek on January 22, 2017

I was lucky to attend the opening of this exhibit, and LOVED seeing all of the beautiful work of these artists. As a longarm quilter myself, I also agree that the quilter should be included in the credits. The quilting brings a quilt top to life -- like blowing up a balloon! Often the quilting part is taken for granted by a non-quilter. As we know, a poor job of quilting can ruin a piece, while a good/great job of quilting can elevate and even "save" a piece. Love your work!

Beth Markel on January 23, 2017

Thanks! I think this exhibit is one of the best I've seen between the venue and the quilts themselves, there is literally something for everybody. So glad you enjoyed it!

Leave a Comment