AQS Lancaster, Part II: The Quilts!

March 31, 2010 at 5:00 pm 1 comment

Get ready to gaze upon the pretty…

"Wedding Rings for Mavis and C.J." by Fran Kordek

"Wedding Rings for Mavis and C.J." by Fran Kordek

This was truly an international show.  The quilts came from all over the United States, plus Canada, the U.K., Australia, Germany, and South Korea, and the quality threshold was extremely high.  The winners list is practically a who’s who of quilting greatness, and has professional pictures of all the ribboned quilts.

The Best of Show ribbon went to Marilyn Badger, who longarm quilted the 2008 Quilter’s Heritage Celebration and 2009 Quilt Odyssey Best of Show quilt, “Awesome Blossoms.”  This year’s quilt, “Filigree,” is an exquisitely pieced Judy Niemeyer design, but what takes it to an entirely different plane is the quilting.  Marilyn is from the same town as Superior Threads, and she’s certainly supporting that local business:  the quilt contains over 15,000 yards of thread, including all that gold metallic quilting:

Quilting detail, "Filigree" by Marilyn Badger

Quilting detail, "Filigree" by Marilyn Badger

While my personal preference is not to see quite so much dense overall quilting on a quilt, I have to say this is done absolutely masterfully.  Plus, the gold metallic thread makes the quilting simultaneously pop yet not compete with the fabric choices and precision piecing.  I have used very little metallic thread in my own quilting, so I will have to keep this in mind.

There were only five categories in this show:  Bed quilt – pieced, bed quilt – appliqued, wall quilt, wall quilt – pictorial, and “Grand Geometrics – The Amish Way,” which I think was kind of an awkward nod to the fact that we were in Lancaster.  The small number of categories meant that group quilts and solo quilts were judged together, and that wall quilts were judged together regardless of technique.  There were no miniatures, which was disappointing; I have no intention of ever, ever making a miniature quilt, but I always enjoy looking at them and saying, “yeah, I’m never going to do that.”

Detail, "Ships at Sea" by Thomas Eugene Smith

Detail, "Ships at Sea" by Thomas Eugene Smith

There were twice as many applique bed quilts as there were pieced bed quilts (note to self:  make a pieced bed quilt before next year’s show) and the level of the applique quilts was glorious to behold.  It was immediately obvious that several of the entries were magnum opus quilts, the kind of life’s work projects that represent years of loving effort.  “Ships at Sea” by Thomas Eugene Smith impressed me with its masterful execution of unusual subject matter (and by a man! I could hear viewers exclaiming — I suppose it is still unusual, at least in traditional quilts,) and “A World of Santas” by Susan J. Dicks displayed more lovely gold metallic quilting (by Jamie Wallen) to complement its charming appliqued Santas.

Detail, "A World of Santas" by Susan J. Dicks

Detail, "A World of Santas" by Susan J. Dicks

The pieced bed quilts as a group were not as uniformly outstanding as the appliqued ones, but there were certainly standouts.  One of my criticisms of the display in the convention center was that the lighting was poor over some of the bed quilts, and combined with the way the displays were roped off, some details were very difficult to see.  Both the ribbon winners for Best Longarm Workmanship and Best Machine Workmanship were in this area, and I have no idea what the judges saw because I literally couldn’t see the quilting.  I can only imagine it was pretty darned impressive, because “The Sampler” by Barbara Persing, which I had seen and marveled over at the 2009 Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, didn’t win any ribbons.  Then again, it was hanging on the dark side of the moon in the convention center, too.

Detail, "The Sampler" by Barbara Persing

Detail, "The Sampler" by Barbara Persing (at PNQE 2009)

My other big complaint about the quilt display:  there were two special exhibits owned by the National Quilt Museum that were “no photography.”  That fact alone is not my complaint; my problem with it was that there was inadequate signage to indicate this.  As a veteran white-glover, I will tell you that for the most part, quilt show goers are a law-abiding lot (the exceptions deserve their own post someday.)  If people know the rules, they are happy to follow them.  Over at Liberty Place, the Pilgrim/Roy Challenge had two tiny signs indicating “no photography” — and they were placed several quilts in from the entrances!  The first quilt was an absolute knockout by John Flynn, very photogenic, and the attendee would encounter it before she would encounter a sign indicating she wasn’t permitted to photograph it!  I felt terrible having to inform people, as part of my white glove hostessing duties, that they couldn’t take pictures there, because they were uniformly embarrassed and apologetic, when they had no reason to know they’d done anything wrong.

The situation was a slight bit clearer over in the convention center with the Burgoyne Surrounded exhibit; there were a few more signs, but they were still small and not at all eye-catching, at least not when compared with a big shiny quilt.  On Saturday, I encountered a hostess who had discovered her secret purpose in life by unleashing her inner Dirty Harry on those who would dare to photograph a quilt.  Not only did she shout at several hapless picture-takers, at one point she barrelled over to a group of us who were innocently looking at a quilt without any electronics in our hands, calling “Stop!   No pictures!  No pictures allowed!!” and seemed on the verge of enacting a body cavity search when she couldn’t find the source of what she’d perceived as a camera flash.  I hope she got back safely to her job at the TSA.  But most people, including AQS staff, seemed far more polite and reasonable, and hopefully next year’s signage will be less ambiguously placed.

"The Flight of the Phoenix" by Lee Jung Sun

"The Flight of the Phoenix" by Lee Jung Sun

But back to the quilts!  There were several lovely wall quilts, including some by usual suspects like David Taylor, Sue Reno and Esterita Austin.  Standouts for me included Lee Jung Sun’s “The Flight of the Phoenix” and the edge finish on blue ribbon winner “Alpha Block Celebration” by Janet Stone.  There were twice as many wall quilts as bed quilts in the competition, due I’m sure in equal parts to American quilting habits (we finish more quilts if they’re smaller) and ease of display (we can hang more quilts if they’re smaller.)

Detail, "Alpha Block Sampler"

Detail, "Alpha Block Celebration" by Janet Stone

Surrounding all these beautiful quilts were — astonishingly enough — vendors!  What a pleasant surprise!  In my next post, I’ll discuss how some of them managed to twist my arm into exchanging money for pretty pretty things.  Against my will, against my reason, and even against my character, I assure you.


Entry filed under: Quilt Shows, Travel. Tags: , , , .

AQS Lancaster, Part I: Clearing the Air There’s a Hole in my Heart…

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. jds acrylic trophies  |  October 11, 2010 at 5:09 am

    I love quilts. Wherever I go I always look for beautiful Quilts with really cute or unique designs.


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