Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Article in the CT Reminder Newspaper January 2012

Group views the quilt as an art form

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Willimantic - posted Tue., Jan. 17, 2012
When you think of quilting, do you think art? The collection currently on display at the Willimantic Food Co-op is designed to suggest that a quilt can be much more than simply a blanket used to keep one warm at night. The cafĂ© corner at the Co-op features the work of a different group or artist every month. This month’s featured group is the Quiet Corner Art Quilt Group.

“I think we were on the waiting list for a year before our turn came up,” said group member Joan Johnson.

“We do art quilts,” said member Melanie Johnston. “These are not necessarily quilts that are designed to be put on a bed.” Most of the quilts in the display are rather small, but that’s not always the case. “Just like any other piece of art, they can vary in size,” said Johnston.

Subjects featured in the quilts run the gamut from chickens to abstract landscapes. The group meets monthly, and “There’s an inspiration word or theme every month,” said Johnston. The small black and white cat, for example, was inspired by an “Animals” theme. “That’s my cat,” said Johnson.

The peace sign was inspired by the “Found Objects” theme. It features a tiny, ceramic lamb that Johnston found while her home was undergoing renovations. It also has a story behind it, as do many of the Quiet Corner quilts.

“I was a selectman in Hampton,” said Johnston. A resident who was unhappy with a decision she’d made threw some nails onto her driveway. Johnston incorporated the nails into the fringe of her quilt. The lamb and the nails together inspired the quilt's title: “War and Peace.” The fabrics in the quilt are all hand-dyed, as are most of the fabrics that Johnston uses.

“It’s funny, when we bring them in, they’re all so different,” said Johnson, noting that each group member has her own area of artistic focus. Johnson likes to use photographs printed onto fabric. Another group member likes to embellish with beads and other baubles.

“I’m a technique junkie,” said member Cathey LaBonte. LaBonte has experimented with techniques such as melted wax and fabric paints. “Rogue media is kind of a benchmark of art quilting,” said LaBonte. “Meaning the use of stuff you ordinarily wouldn’t think of using with fabric.” Two of the quilts at the Co-op, for example, feature wine bottle labels. “They’re stitched right onto the fabric,” said Johnson.

What draws the women to quilting? “It’s all about texture,” said Johnston.

“The texture, the colors, everything,” said Johnson. “I just really love it.”

LaBonte, who has dabbled in other art forms, said that art quilting has really engaged her. “I like it because you can combine everything,” she said. “Paint, beads, stitching - you can combine all different kinds of media.”

The work of the Quiet Corner Art Quilt Group can be seen at the Willimantic Food Co-op throughout the month of January. For more information or to see photographs of the quilts, go to

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