Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coastal Prairie Quilt Guild of Texas

Detail of the Donation Quilt, made by Guild members
 Last weekend, I attended the Coastal Prairie Quilt Guild of Texas' first quilt show, called "Binding Borders Around The World."  It was a wonderful show, and especially impressive considering that it was the first show of a fairly new guild.  This group was formed in 2008 and already boasts almost 200 members.

Prize-winning quilt made by my mother-in-law!

I love quilt shows (and quilting!) in no small measure because I think this sort of artwork has the power to confound our expectations about what people are capable of.  Lots of us have preconceived notions about sewing in general and quilting in particular.  You know, little old ladies, quaint country charm, lots of gingham.  You can almost smell the homemade cookies, can't you?

Closeup of machine quilting.  Hard to photograph.

Attending a quilt show, especially a large one, can be an eye-opening experience.  Not only is the quality of the craft outstanding (and getting better all the time), but the visual power of the quilts is arresting.  Some quilts are country-quaint, true.  But not all.  And quilts that draw on our shared traditions often rely on a very sophisticated sense of color.  The quilt below is a good example:  it echoes the Civil War colors and prints, but in a very modern colorway and composition.

Opportunity, by Jackie Hillman

For me, sewing and quilting, and supporting quilt shows, are a bit about reclaiming a place at the artists' table.  While there are some wonderful male quilters, it is by far a female craft.  And I think it's important to acknowledge that the work these women do, with "homely" materials like fabrics, needles and thread, is art as well as craft.  If you are in the slightest doubt, check out the International Quilt Festival, held every year in Houston.  This year, it's November 4th through 7th at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

See Some Secret Sunflowers, by Mary Jo Yackley

Besides all that, I think women who can make great art and bake homemade cookies are cool!

Judy's Geishas, by Carolyn Hughes
Closeup of the hexagon borders on Judy's Geishas


  1. I am not a quilter, give me a needle and a thread, and I'm gone! But I celebrate this modern art of quilting with you. A few years ago I went to a quilting exhibition in Riebeeck Kasteel. Just as appealing, and drawing on a different tradition.

  2. I wanted to stop by and thank you for commenting on my blog recently. However, I was taken aback by Pied Beauty. That poem is very special to me. This summer we had to put down one of our dogs, a wonderfully dappled thing she was. On the way to the vet that awful day I turned on the radio just as someone began reading that poem and suddenly I was more at peace with the task at hand.

  3. Beautiful quilts. I cannot sew or quilt, but love the colors in the art.The patterns always intrigue me.