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.

Monday, November 8, 2010

At the Houston International Quilt Festival

It's our second-largest convention and the largest quilt show in the world.  This is the 36th year the event has been held in Houston and almost $100,000 in prizes were awarded this year.  More than 2,000 quilts and artworks were exhibited.  And about 53,000 people attended.  But we just call it "Festival!"

Hope, by Michelle M. Jackson
I like to go on Preview Night to get a sneak peek at the more than 1,000 vendor booths and then take some time by myself the next day to look at the quilts.  Many of the quilts cannot be photographed but I like to take pictures where permitted.  Sometimes it's only later, when I look at my photos, that I can figure out just where my head is.  What sort of quilts are attracting my eye and why?  What colors, themes or techniques and I drawn to?  It's like Forster's quote about writing: How do I know what I think until I see what I say?

Swimmer's Clock, by Julie Duschack
I won't post all the pictures here, in deference to speedier page-loading, but these are a few of the quilts I thought were noteworthy.

Affection, by Eun Ryoung Choi

Return of the Grackle, by Diane Rusin Doran

Inspiration Draws From Nature's Art, by Patricia Delany

Big Bang, by Marianne R. Williamson
So what's on my quilt-mind?  I'm torn between a very subtle color palette of mostly neutrals (I'm still very fond of the Daiwabo Taupe fabrics) and vivid reds and blues.  Although I'm not naturally drawn to pictorial quilts, I liked the birds.  I liked some of the more political quilts, like "Hope" and "Katrina I."  The sensibility of many of the Korean and Japanese quilts resonated with me.  I liked their unique interpretation of extremely traditional technique.  Overall, I thought there were too many beads and crystals, but there were a few quilts featuring a bit more bling that I enjoyed.  And I'm amazed at the machine quilting artistry on display.  So much has changed in that regard over the past ten years or so.  The control these artists achieve with their machines is nothing short of astonishing.

More photos and comments are posted here in a photo album optimized for viewing.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!


  1. When I click thru to the detail on the grackle, I can see that every feather has been (hand? or machine?) quilted!

  2. I love that grackle quilt because it reminds me of my late pal Amy. Last year was the 1st time I'd ever attended the Quilt Festival and it was overwhelming. The artistry on display is truly astounding.