The Quilt Alliance launched its first quilt contest in 2007 with several goals in mind. One goal was to raise funds to support the Alliance’s move from Louisville, Kentucky to our present home in Asheville, North Carolina. We also wanted to establish this fundraiser as an annual intiative to provide ongoing operating support. Another aim was to document the work of our members by taking a “snapshot” of quilts made in a particular year. QA board members Karen Musgrave and the late Yvonne Porcella set out to make the contest friendly to all quilters, whether they identified as longarmers, hand quilters, modern quilters… or simply artists. With this in mind, they crafted an open-ended theme that anyone could speak to, and that tradition has continued. This year marks the Alliance’s 10th annual contest.
Quilt Alliance quilt contests from 2007-2016
2008: My Quilts/Our History
2009: Crazy for Quilts
2010: New from Old
2011: Alliances: People, Patterns, Passion
2012: Home Is Where the Quilt Is
2014: Inspired By
2015: Animals We Love
2016: Playing Favorites
Quilt Alliance member Maude Wallace Haeger is one of the artists who created and donated a small house-shaped quilt (“Casa del Sol”) for our first contest back in 2007. She entered again in 2008, donating four quilts (that worked separately, or as a multi-paneled piece) for the Crazy for Quilts theme. This year, Maude entered our Playing Favorites contest. You can see her quilt along with all of the 2017 contest quilts here. In this innaugural post in our new series, Inspired Giving, I asked Maude to tell her story.
During the school year my main job is special education teacher to students in an inner city school, but I am an artist no matter what I am doing and where I am. I try very hard to keep weekends for art work, but it is not a hobby to me, it is what I am driven to do – create. Cooking is a hobby – art is not a hobby. It is often hard work and can require a lot of energy and concentration, so I do not consider it relaxing, but I do enjoy it.
I grew up in Urbana, Illinois, the child of two artist parents. From a very early age I found cloth, thread and needle the best way to work artistically or at least creatively. I would make things and then show my mother who would take my hands in hers and with tears in her voice say, “your grandmother would be so proud of you.” My maternal grandmother and great grandmother were both seamstresses, and my great grandfather was an itinerant tailor who, with his wife and children went from wealthy Russian house to wealthy house and sewed the clothes for the family. It is in the genes.
My favorite things to do as a child were to look through the costume section of the World Book Encyclopedia and recreate the ethnic costumes for my Barbie doll. I didn’t ever really play with the doll, just made “couturier” clothes for her. I loved to embroider and did so for hours.
I took art though all of high school, and my teacher would enter all of her students in the Scholastic Art show each year. I got my share of ribbons and pins, and did actually get the Hallmark purchase prize for a watercolor I did as a senior. But one could not get the purchase prize for textile work. This upset me, because even back in high school I felt that fiber art was just as much an art form as painting and drawing.
One day at a University of Illinois faculty art exhibition, I was sitting on the stairs of the Krannert Art Museum watching all the people looking at the show. One of my parent’s friends and fellow art professor, Jack Baker, stopped to talk to me. I told him I wasn’t as much of an artist because I couldn’t paint and draw as well as I could create with thread and cloth. He told me that my stylus was a needle and that was as much a stylus as a pencil, pen or paintbrush!
Through high school my medium of choice was embroidery. I struggled with what to do in college, but eventually found Eastern Illinois University where I was able to minor in crafts – weaving and finally graduated with a bachelor’s in weaving. It was after we adopted four hard-to-place children thirty years ago that I switched from weaving to piecing, and have never regretted it.
My first piece for the Quilt Alliance was created the year that they were putting a roof on the new building in Asheville. I had fun making “Casa del Sol.”
At this point in my life I cannot spend the time I did as a teenager to hand embroider anything, but I have been learning how to use the machine stitching to advantage.
My entry for the Quilt Alliance contest this year, “Go Fish,” was inspired by a quilt I began for a different exhibition but never got to enter due to family, health and students! However, I have included a picture of what became the center of a much larger quilt. These gold fish are swimming in a pond in the center of a garden. It was my first time using Solvy and creating such intricate embroidery with a machine.
The wonderful thing about quilt making is the scraps. I do not throw out many of them either. They just keep piling up in another plastic container and end up on a shelf. Then I take time to try to make an orderly arrangement of them and sew them together. In this next picture you see houses made of flower scraps. I have put a slide of how the houses look without all the thread work and how it changes them after I have stitched and stitched.
Jack Lenor Larsen stated that if one wants a red piece of cloth to really be “rich in color” one has to have one warp thread be red and one be orange. This reminded me of all those wonderful Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings at the Chicago Art Institute. The observer’s eyes mix the color! I use that premise a lot in my work.
In the detail view, you see an unfinished quilt square of some of the houses with layers of embroidery and net. I worked so hard on the piece I stripped the gears of my 28 year old Bernina! I have not finished the piece because I am waiting for the correct machine to complete them. I have titled this piece “Casas de Flores!”.
As previously stated, throwing out cloth is not easy for me. In this piece you see navy blue and green in the background which was a motif I created years ago. It could have “stood on its own” as a piece, but I was not comfortable with it as it was.
After a lot of thinking and experimentation, I saw a way to combine the original quilt with the new scraps and make a type of repeated design which became the cloth part of the quilt. I then used different thread sizes and colors to attach the scraps and to add textural interest and depth to the piece.
Whether my work looks semi-traditional at times or very abstract, my hope is that my love of color and design will give joy to the observer.
–Maude Wallace Haeger
Thank you, Maude, for sharing your quilt story and for donating many gorgeous quilts to our annual auction! Bid on Maude’s quilt “Go Fish!” along with the other “Playing Favorites” quilts in our 2016 online silent auction, beginning November 14 on www.QuiltAlliance.org.
The theme and guidelines for our 2017 Quilt Alliance contest will be announced in January 2017. Stay tuned!