Book Review: Art Quilt Portfolio The Natural World

Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World: Profiles of Major Artists, Galleries of Inspiring WorksArt Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World: Profiles of Major Artists, Galleries of Inspiring Works by Martha Sielman

I have been so remiss in reviewing this eye candy book by Lark Crafts! They sent it to me at least a month ago and I waited to have enough to write a review that would do the book justice. HAH! That will never happen, so here I am writing the review, finally. Hopefully, it is a good one.

This is a lush and lavish book. The photos are wonderful and there are plenty of them. The styles of the quilts are all different as well. Anxiety Won, 2006 by Ginny Smith has a folk art feel with the birds and improvisational cutting while I can’t even tell that Martha Cole’s piece, First Turning, 2007, is a quilt because it looks so much like a photograph.

This book is full of texture, paint, quilting, non-quiltmaking fabrics such as taffeta, embroidery, stenciling, which all flows together very well for a united whole. The color is rich and many of the quiltmakers nod at classic techniques and fabrics. There are regular quiltmaking fabrics that you and I probably have in our fabric closets. Piecing and quilting are used frequently by a variety of different artists to convey their message.

I have a love-hate relationship with representational works in the quiltmaking genre. I don’t like the quilts where an image is just printed on a piece of fabric and called a quilt. I believe in piecing and the symbology of some quilt blocks. I want some mystery. If someone wants to take a photo, go take a photo. I know that sounds harsh. Now you know one of my failings. Some of the quilts in this book are like that and I just had to ignore them. In spite of my own fault, there were so many other quilts with excellent designs and amazing imagery.

Unlike the Masters Quilts series, Masters: Art Quilts: Major Works by Leading Artists and book:Masters: Art Quilts Vol. 2: Major Works by Leading Artists, both of which I adored, this book goes into a bit more about the quilt artists, their process and some of the pieces. Judith Trager writes “I had been an avid gardener until about 2004 or 2005, when I discovered that I could no longer do the physical work. So I started making garden quilts” (pg.15). This is one example of a peek into the process. The other artists explain their work in different ways, sometimes talking about inspiration or process or how they got from there to here.

All of the artists’ sections are well illustrated and show a variety of work. I don’t know how any quiltmaker could fail to find something attractive. Cassandra Williams uses pieced diamonds and equilateral triangles as backgrounds in her quilt Dance of the Deep (pg. 81). Elsbeth Nusser-Lampe’s Struggle 2010 has the feel of Marie Webster’s Poppy quilt. The shimmer of some of the background fabrics is one of the elements that the artist uses to bring the feel into 2010.  Aside from piecing, I also see the influence of other quilts in some of the pieces.

Threadpainting, which was mentioned in the Texture podcast from last week, and quilting are both very evident in this book. The photos are so good that they made feel I could reach out and many of the quilts. The reader is able to see the amazing quilting in many of the quilts. Vagabond Song by Elaine Quehl is one example.

This is an excellent book. I love the photos, the imagery and the accompanying text. Run, don’t walk to get this book. I am adding it to my collection!

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