The Bright Art of Quilting

Colors detailby Mary Jo

Quilting is a very ancient skill, probably dating back to ancient Egypt and introduced to Europe by returning Crusaders.  It's wonderfully practical for warmth, or protecting a knight from chafing armor.  

These days we usually associate quilts with lovely cozy bed coverings, but they've also evolved into a beautiful form of craftwork.  A friend of ours is a honcho in the Baltimore Heritage Quilters Guild and she always notifies us of the guild's biennial quilt shows.  It's a treat to visit the shows, which are held in sprawling school gymnasiums, and only held every two years because it takes time to create new work.  (I blogged about the last show two years ago–the quilts are too pretty not to share!)

As the Mayhem consultant said when we visited the show, there weren't many of the cuddle-under-in-winter type  quilts.  Most were beautiful art pieces of various sizes, like modern tapestries designed to be hung on the walls.  There were hundreds of quilts, and the show was so visually dazzling that it was impossible to take it all in.  

Scary Cat by Carol Rubin

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A Quilted Tale

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

I've always liked quilts.  Throughout my childhood, I slept under a blue and white quilt a neighbor gave to my mother because the neighbor didn't want it anymore.  A lot of quilts were passed around as old fashioned and uninteresting in those days, I think.

But these days quilts are very popular, partly because they represent authenticity Quilt signage quiltand a link with the past.  Not to mention that they're beautiful usable art that can be lived with and appreciated every day.

(Like most Americans I have a rather romanticized image of pioneer women gathering together for a quilting bee, both to make quilts and to share female companionship.  The reality is inevitably more complex.)

I have several friends who quilt.  One who is a writer, Annette Mahon, has created the St. Rose cozy quilting mystery series.  I've had friends create quilts for new babies, or to offer comfort to someone going through a difficult time. 

There was also the AIDS Memorial Quilt with squares commemorating those who had died of the disease.  The largest folk art project in the world, it weighed 54 tons in 2010.  (The history of the quilt is quite interesting.)

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