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A Thousand Bodice Inserts

We were so lucky as to get to see the exhibition of 1000 Bodice Inserts at Hardanger Folkemuseum at Utne last October.

A bodice insert is a separate piece of fabric covering the front opening of the bodice on the folk costume from Hardanger and some other areas.

 

Folk costumes in Hardanger, and also in other areas in Norway, were influenced by continental fashions. The renaissance fashion trend with waist and skirt in differing colours, and often heavily decorated bodice inserts, kept its stronghold in this area till the costume was embraced as the National Costume of Norway in the late 1800s. It was a living tradition, so no need to go back to study old garments in order to reconstruct the costume, as has been done later in other areas to create local folk costumes. (We now have lots of different folk costumes in all areas of the country.)

 

Luckily a lot of old and new bodice inserts from Hardanger have been donated to the museum over the years. There are also collections in neighbouring districts, and some of these were also on display, – a total of more than 1000 bodice inserts, and not two alike.

 

People have used a variety of techniques to decorate the inserts, and cross stitch embroidery seems to have been a popular method. All the inserts on the wall to the left in the photo above, are decorated in this way.

 

The amount of decoration vary from very simple to elaborate. People used the same style of clothing both for every day use and for Sunday best and other festivities, and they often had several bodice inserts to fit the occasion.

Unadorned bodice inserts were used when attending funerals, and grieving.

 

The size of the inserts vary a lot. This may be due to variations of the waist front opening, and also the fact that people come in different sizes. A couple of hundred years ago, people were generally smaller than we are now.

Even though hardly two bodice inserts are alike, there are some common standards. They all have a ribbon hem on top. Most have a defined motif of various geometric shapes sewn on red or white fabric. Between the ribbon and motif there is often a border made of metal lace or ribbon, beads, or embroidery.  The decorated parts are mounted on a piece of fabric, which is mostly made of home woven wool or linen. This background fabric is not visible when the bodice insert is in use.

It is almost as interesting, – or perhaps more so, – to observe all the different background fabrics that have been used.

The most common geometric motif is by far the eight pointed star, also called an eight leafed rose in these parts. The variations are many, there may be one big star, or a few or several smaller ones set in a grid, most often on point. The grid itself may be narrow, or wider with geometric decor elements of its own.

In quilting terms we might call the decor on point blocks with narrow or wide sashings.

 

Quite a few inserts have beads on them.

At a time when most household items were home made, purchased objects would be regarded as finer and having a higher status. Beads have been produced and sold for many years, and bodice inserts decorated with beads were regarded as especially fine and for best use. The inserts can be dated by looking at the colour of the beads. White, green, mustard, and black beads were first available. Blue beads and straw beads came later. Also the older beads are bigger and of more irregular shape than newer ones.

The motifs are again mostly geometric borders and eight pointed stars, but also heart shaped decor has been popular.

 

On one insert with very small beads, they found that the maker had used horse hair to thread the beads. The horse hair is so stiff that you would not need a needle, which would perhaps have been to thick for the small pearl openings.

 

Pearls have been combined with both embroidery, metal lace and ribbons, and also applique as in some of the photos below..

 

There is a story about three vicar’s daughters from Ulvik who used to do very fine applique, mostly eight pointed stars. When their father died, they supported themselves by making fine bodice inserts for sale. At the time, paper was used inside the top hem to make it stiffer, and much later one of their father’s sermons was found inside one of these inserts.

 

 

Not all bodice inserts were made from woollen fabric. Some used fine imported silks, silk velvet and calamanco. A few of these were displayed behind glass.

 

The pattern darning technique has also been used to decorate bodice inserts.

Pattern darning is a very old embroidery technique, – even older than cross stitch, – and this technique has been used quite a lot.  Pattern darning is often used alongside other techniques, where the pattern darning will compose the grid, or framework, for the motif, while other techniques such as cross stitch or satin stitch, are used to fill in the pattern repetitions.

A very common motif on pattern darning inserts is the “eldjarnrose”, which looks like a modern day hashtag set on point. It is most often worked in black, while the surrounding grid has been made in red yarn.

 

This last group of photos show some inserts made in a variety of techniques, and some of them with unusual motifs. There are a few examples where the cross stitch embroidery patterns are made to look like bead embroidery or threaded bead grids. There is also one with a great variety of stitches, including the only example of chain stitch that I noticed.

Lastly, here is an insert mounted on a piece of fabric cut from a beautiful woven coverlet in the “krokbragd” pattern:

 

 

The exhibition was scheduled to be taken down last January, but due to its popularity, it has been extended till 1st November 2019. If you get the chance to visit, grab it with both hands.

It is well worth a visit.

 

🙂

Eldrid

 

 

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Rendezvous in Røros

27 years ago my family and I visited Røros during a holiday trip.

In the museum there was an exhibition of textile art, and among them were several works by artist Ela Monsen.

 

I was so impressed by her work at the time that I took several photos, using a cheap camera I had at that time, – and also using the expensive film and paper copies of that time. I wanted to remember what I saw.

 

The wall hangings were hung in a room with dark drapes on the walls, and even though my small flash light did its meager best, the photos were only so-so, – even by my then standards. But they were recognizable.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I visited Røros again, and we stayed at Røros hotel. In the lobby, I was pleasantly surprised to see the wall hanging with the dancing couple hanging on the wall.

 

Of course I recognized it at once, and was happy to be able to see it in better light conditions, and to be able to study the details. Of course I did not think twice about taking lots of photos, – these days photos are cheap.

The next morning I was again pleasantly surprised to see another of her works in the dining room:

 

This rendition of a wedding feast is the one I thought most impressive back in 1990, so I was very happy to be able to study it in closer detail. It has not lost its impact since then.

Ela Monsen died in 1978, so these two hangings were made just one and two years before her passing. Luckily, some of her works hang in public places so we can continue enjoying them.

🙂

Eldrid

 

 

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Endearments to History

Summer can be a hectic period with travelling, visiting family, have family visitors, minding the grandchildren, (a favourite occupation), and with everything else that needs to be done around the houses and gardens. It is also the time of year when you can expect to find exciting stuff in many of the smaller galleries in the area. I finally got around to visiting the closest one, Kulturhuset “Heimen”, and was blown away with their current exhibition, which is in its last week, by the way.

 

 

I was especially taken by the collection of  works by textile artist Edith Bentdal Skjeggestad, which she has called “Endearments to History”.

 

 

Ms Skjeggestad has used lots of old lace, fragments of garments, table linen fabric and towels, and arranged the pieces so you get the illusion of a dress bodice or blouse, focusing on the area closest around the neck.

 

 

She has made use of many embroidery techniques to make each unique piece into a visual feast, with lots of details to study and admire. Just look at that fabulous smocked piece, for instance.

 

 

I was impressed by the embroidery made with thin, black thread. It gave the impression of a patterned fabric as well as a textured background, depending on the stitches.

 

 

The collages were set in deep, white, glass fronted frames, and bore titles such as “Flirt”, “Romance”, “Sadness”, “Nostalgia”, and “Longing”, all with lots of embellishments.

 

 

Most were definitely “female”, but there were also a few pieces like the one above, called “Wonderboy, white collar”. It made me almost feel sorry for the menfolk who had to dress so simply and monotonously, compared to all the beautiful lace, embroidery and pearls shown on the other pieces.

 

 

There was also a project called “The Embroideress’ Secrets”, which consisted of a large group of smaller, deep frames, or boxes. In these frames were shown small collages of different sewing equipment and small, exquisite, examples of handmade items connected with the different equipments. The reflections in the glass made it a bit difficult to photograph, but below are a few of the boxes:

 

 

Again, here were lots of details to study. I especially liked the small Russian doll showed with the red embroidery.

 

 

There are also works by other artists exhibited in the gallery, like these prints by Jertrud Eikås Eide and ceramics by Anne Lise Aarset. The sculptures by Aase Botnmark in the window are in this gallery on a permanent basis.

 

 

But the other exhibitions will be taken down this weekend. Just a few days left. Hurry if you want to see it.

🙂

Eldrid

 

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The Yakut Wedding

As I said in my two previous posts here and here, there was a lot going on on the day of the Quilted Field.

One of the posts on the entertainment program, was a demonstration of Yakut wedding customs, especially on how to dress the bride.

 

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It all started with a small procession of the participants entering the field and the stage. First came the groom..

…then various family members and a shaman (…I think..).

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One person was at the microphone explaining what was happening, but only in Russian. We could guess quite a lot from what we saw happening on stage, but we probably missed out on a lot of interesting details.

The bride came on stage already with the pink dress on, but there was a lot more to be added, both clothes, jewellery, belt, handbag, hat and mittens, – all of this in beautifully made traditional style clothing.

Everything was done with slow, ceremonial movements while some haunting songs, reminiscent of sami joik, but not quite, were played in the background, occasionally interrupted by the storyteller explaining something.

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When the bride was ready, the groom came and led her to the other side of the stage, both holding on to opposite ends of what looked like a big tassel.

Afterwards there was some kind of ceremony, and then some serious gift giving, – everything in slow motion:

 

In the end they danced some sort of line dance, – again with very slow motions and sombre faces, – very dignified. No hoopla or laughter.

 

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No wedding is without food and drink, of course, and they had brought some of their traditional foods and drink on to the stage. After the ceremony and dancing, they came around and offered the audience tastes of both food and drink, served in carved wooden vessels.

The food was waffles and some small pancakes, – very good, – and the drink was white and had a sour-ish taste. After reading up on Yakut wedding traditions on the web, we think that it must have been fermented mare’s milk. Nobody got sick or died as far as we know,  😉 even though everyone drank from the same cup.

This also gave us a chance of a closer glimpse of their wonderful attire, – all beautifully made with lots of details to admire. I should have liked to examine them all more closely and in person, but the photos will have to do. There was a lot of fur, as would be expected on traditional clothing from the coldest place on earth, but there was also woolen fabric and what looked like silk brocade on some of the coats. There was also lots of silver jewellery, some of which reminded me of the designs from Juhl’s Silver Gallery in Kautokeino, who has got their inspiration from the tundra and the people living there.

Yakutia, or the Sakha republic as it is also called, is the largest republic in Russia, and is almost as far east and north as you can come in that country. This group had travelled 8-9 hours by plane to get to the festival, – all inland, which is telling of just how large this country is.

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The organizers had better cameras than mine, so the photos on their website have some more close ups and details from this event.

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Here is a Youtube video of a Dressing-the-bride ceremony at a big event in 2012.

(It stops rather abruptly, before they are quite finished, I think.)

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In my next post, we will take a closer look at some of their quilts.

🙂

Eldrid

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The Four Seasons Embroidered Frieze

This summer Kaffe Fassett’s exhibition “50 Years of Colour” has been on show at Hadeland Glassverk here in Norway. I finally got to see it during its last week, and it was indeed glorious. But I also got to see a lot more.

Since we had travelled a long way for this, and stayed a couple of nights, we also decided to visit the nearby Blaafarveverket in Modum, as we had heard they usually have some good exhibitions there during summer.

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On arrival we were presented with the options of buying discounted tickets for any two of three sites, or all three. We thought that we had time for only two, and when hearing that one of them had some embroidery on show, we decided on that one, in addition to the main site, – which showed paintings in blue colours and also lots of blue glass and china, linked to the former production of cobalt mined in this area.

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The second site, Nyfossum, used to be the director’s dwelling. The old house and gardens are being restored to former glory, while the log barn in the photo above has been turned into a gallery to house the annual summer exhibitions.

What a surprise to step into the barn and discover that the embroidery on show was actually THE Four Seasons Frieze, also called the Life Frieze, made by Torvald Moseid during the years 1961-1977. I had read about it in some magazine many, many years ago, and I think I also may have glimpsed it on tv at some time, but had never seen it in “person”.

Impressive is an understatement. It is 62 meters long and 58 centimeters tall, and all in one long piece of linen fabric, embroidered all over, mostly using the couching stitch with yarn spun from wool from the double coated Norwegian tail-less breed Spelsau.

The whole piece was hung around the walls in three separate rooms and a hallway. It was not possible to see all of it at once, – you had to move from room to room.

 

Below are more photos showing details from the frieze. I have put them into four groups, one for each season.

For every season there was also a small text explaining some of the scenes. As they were only in Norwegian I have tried to write up an English version, but I fear the poetry of the texts got lost in translation.

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Spring
Early spring starts with naked trees and dead leaves.

The break through is like a powerful gust of wind. Flocks of migratory birds are carried by the wind. They fly with their heads stretched out towards the spring, and the wind is playing in groves and thickets.

The woods turn green, and flowers spring. The tree of spring spreads its glory like an open fan.

Flowers and plants are grown and tended to. Two who are enthralled with each other stand in the middle of them, as if they are part of the flowers’ beauty and vitality.

 

 

summertextSummer

Summer starts with the big wedding feast. Flutes are played, and in the flowering fields there are undulating rows of dancers.

The summer bride has got her finery on. She has a classic profile, she is pale, and a myrtle garland is tied around her brow. The summer breeze is playing with her long hair. A knot of glorious summer flowers is tied behind her neck, and the wind blows her bridal veil into the wedding feast.

The wedding feast is like a flaming bonfire which turns into cascades of colourful midsummer plants.  The midsummer sun shines in bright red and yellow.

Midsummer blooming has a boundless lavishness of shapes and colours. Large flower bowls are opening up, and children are playing with pollen stamens.

 autumntextAutumn

The birds bring the first signs of autumn. They pull golden threads across the earth. The threads turn into light, golden veils which are pulled over the woods.

Nature closes down towards the winter time. Colours and shapes change the trees and plants. Large, brown, knotty plants with filled seed pods are contrasting with the blue.

 

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Winter

The winter opens with the stormy wind hitting the trees, and dead leaves in brown, yellow, and red are blown into the air.

Through winter cold and frost the death rider on his wild horse charges into the night. Nature is desolate and silent.

The wind plays with light snowflakes, and they are dancing around like pearl embroidered suns.

In the darkness of the winter night a flaming ice rose shines like the fiery northern lights, filled with hope.

 

Needless to say I was above impressed when walking along the frieze, trying to take it all in, – and even more so now, when working with the photos for this blog post, and I really got to study the details.

One cannot help but wonder about the drive and stamina that the artist would need to finish a piece like this. And even so, when comparing the beginning and the end, one can almost get the impression that he did not want it to end, as the sheer masses and density of the stitches are ever increasing towards the end.

Still, the artist has produced two similar works of art after this one. His second frieze, the 50 meters long Orfeus and Euridike (1978 – 1985), was also displayed at Nyfossum in the neighbouring rooms, and was almost as impressive as this one, although a bit different.  I took lots of photos here as well.

His third and last work of this scale, is the 70 meters long frieze based on Draumkvedet, a Norwegian medieval ballad often compared to Dante’s Divina Commedia.  This was finished in 1993. I should like to see that one as well, – maybe I will be so lucky some time in the future.

🙂

Eldrid

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“The Four Seasons” and “Orfeus and Euridike” will hang at Nyfossum till the middle of September this year. There are still two more weeks to get to see them.

Festival of Quilts IV – Quilt Creations

I am still enjoying my photos from the Festival of Quilts, even though this is not exactly news anymore.

They have a competition category called Quilt Creations, where you may enter every quilty thing that is not exactly a quilt or a wall hanging.   It can be clothing, wearable art or 3 dimensional pieces, which must have length, breadth and depth. This post will cover some of these.

The coat above was made by Marijke van Weltzen from The Netherlands, and was called “Once in a Blue Moon”. The inspiration is the story about the crane daughter: A girl who turned into a crane and secretly wove beautiful cloth, and who flew away when she was discovered.

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This ensemble named “Citrinesque”, was made by Kathy Knapp from USA.

It was inspired by the citrine gemstone which has a beautiful yellow colour.

devotion978Here is a little beauty: “Devotion” by Judith Anderson.

Using the knowledge gained from a class in faux taxidermy, she made this piece from old and new wool, net, lace, and other embellishments.

diaghilev993This “outfit” was called “Diaghilev Comes to the Party”, and was made by Sally Hutson.

The artist writes: “Inspired by the extraordinary theatrical performance of Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe from the early 20th century, this garment captures the art of modernism and the fun of the party!”

firelight979“Firelight” by Jane Appelbee.

The artist had a new wood burning stove installed, and was told that she would be watching that more then the TV, – which she did. The flames licking the logs inspired this piece.

henge953“Henge of Celtic Seasonal Totems” by Linzi Upton.

Circle of nine mystical Celtic Totems inspired by votive trees and stone circles found in Ancient Britain.

Linzi is also famous for her quilted Yurts (Mongolian dwellings).

holst973“What on Earth would Holst think?” by Liz Clark. The artist calls these 3D-off-the-wall quilts. Motifs and colours are chosen to represent the seasons.

Another coat, “Homage to Hundertwasser” made by Catherine Lawes. Inspired by Hundertwasser’s paintings and architecture.

This lovely creature was made by Claire Crouchley, and is called “Naiad”. It received a “Highly Commended”.

The artist says: “The doll was created with sequin scales and beaded embellishments, including seaweed and jewellery to reflect her vain nature. She sits on driftwood which is being slowly claimed by the marine life which surrounds her”.

splash955“Splash” by Linda Turner won a “Judges Choice”.

The bowl is made of organza layered between soluble stabilizers and is free motion thread painted to illustrate the action of water when an object or raindrop falls into the water.

takeabreak972“Take a Break” by Ulrike Tillmanns.

An old teak bench, covered in fabric using weather proof glue and lacquer.

tigersandgoats957c“Tigers and Goats Game” by Gillian Travis.

The artist’s interpretation of a game that is very popular in India.

woodlandfantasy965This one is lovely, – “Woodland Fantasy” by Helen Alexander Bristow.

Lovely free machine embroidery on felted fabric. Beautiful colours.

My own quilt, Rosemadonna, was also shown in this category. I did not get any good photos of it on the location, but it can be seen in this post.

bedtimemonster995This is one of a “Collection of Quilted Monsters and Bedtime Beasties” made by Daisy May Collingridge.

The artist says: “The quilt monster is a beast with a fickle permanence. Its presence only captured in the blink of an eye. Yet, it is always there, under the bed or wrapped tight around you”.

The one above, along with the two other “Bedtime Monsters”, and many other outfits were shown at the “Fashion Show” on the Friday night during the Festival. Some of the outfits were also in the competition, like the one above, but not all of them.

Below are some photos taken during the Fashion Show. The photo quality varies as I was sitting near the back, the models were moving, and the lighting varied across the stage. I did not take notes during the show, so I have not got the names of the various makers.

🙂

Eldrid

Festival of Quilts III – More Quilts

I continue my journey through my photo folders, this time in no particular order.

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The “million pieces” quilts always impress me, and here are a couple. Above is “9 Patch Tastic” by Jean Perce, (with a Jacqueline de Jong inspired quilt in the background).

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This one is called Jardin des Fleurs, and is made by Eileen Swart.

It is made of lots of different Liberty fabrics. Love the praerie points and the pearls.

This Courthouse steps quilt made by Mary Mayne has 1700 pieces in it, and are not foundation sewn. One block is different from the rest.

I liked the calming colours, and the button centres.

This storm at sea quilt was made by Breege Watson from Ireland. Blue greens are my favourites.

Here is an other take on the storm at sea pattern. The quilt is called “Fish at Sea”, and was made by Pam Stanier, who had it longarm quilted at Quilters’ Trading Post. It won a Judges Choice award in the Two person category.

“Dragonfly in Teal” is the title of the quilt above, made by Daphne Barker. Lovely colours and quilting.

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Here are some colours for you. The quilt is titled “Wally”, and was made by Doritha Smith.

The fabrics are African wax prints, combined with a hand dyed background fabric. It is machine pieced, but quilted by hand, and won a Judges Choice in the Traditional category.

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I liked this quilt because of the tonal fabrics, and the simplicity of the design. It was made by Rosemary Payne for her grandson, and is meant to be used. The fabrics are Kaffe Fasset shot cottons.

This one is also made of shot cottons, and the colours are practically glowing. It was machine stitched and computer guided longarm quilted by Brigitte Gillespie.

 

“The Magic of Skye” was made by Hanne Asbey from Aberdeen.  Beautiful Scottish themed quilt in lovely colours, and beautifully quilted, – on a domestic machine no less.

Another beauty combining foundation pieced pineapple blocks with an applique border. It is called “On Green Pond”, and was made by Judith Wilson. The quilt reminded me of some of the Egyptian Tentmakers’ quilts seen lately.

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This quilt, Liz Jones’ s “A Girl’s Best Friend” came second in the Traditional category.

All the diamond shaped blocks have different applique motifs.

Here is also applique. The quilt is called “Brightness”, and was made by Kazue Iwahashi from Osaka, Japan.

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This quilt by Gwenfai Rees Griffiths won third place in the traditional category.

It is called “Cappuchino”, and has both hand applique and embroidery, in addition to lovely quilting.

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This quilt was made by Angie Taylor for a friend’s 30th wedding anniversary. Everything is in triples, including the three triple wedding rings.

It also includes things the couple love, like cats and horses, and there are 30 pearls scattered across the quilt surface.

I, for one, especially loved the poppies.

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Every now and then a quilt that does not capture your interest at first sight, turns out to be a gem at closer inspection.

This one, made by Irene Harris and Susan Campbell from Australia, did not stand out when viewed at a distance.

But up close, you got drawn in and in, – all the way “Beyond the Garden Wall”, which is also the title of the quilt. There were so many exquisite details to admire. I spent quite some time looking at this one.

Lots of quilts were made by two persons, or larger groups. Below are a few:

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This one is called “Below the Surface”, and was made by Sue Roberts and Margaret Owen.

The inspiration was early Victorian microscopic images of sea life.

A fun and colourful quilt: “Bird Parade”, made by 6 quilters from The Netherlands. One motif made up of 6 smaller quilts, assembled by zippers.

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This one is utterly charming. “La Ville de Josselin” was made by 13 quilters from around this town in France.

It was a gift to the town, and hangs in their tourist office.

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This quilt looks as if it has been made by one person, but there are in fact three makers.

The quilt is called “Shared Abstractions”, and the group calls themselves “Two-Plus-One” The inspiration was what to do with leftovers.

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“Rural Prospects” above was made by Mary Palmer and Anne Kiely from Ireland.

The quilt is a result of a collaboration between a textile print artist and a quilter.

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16 quilters from “The Exe Valley Contemporary Quilt Group” put together this quilt called “Triassic Trio”.

It was inspired by the varied geology in the south-west region where they live, and each quilter contributed a segment from one of the areas named in the top part.

The quilt won a third in the Group category.

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And this is the Second prize winner in the Group category: “The Four Seasons” made by a 4 member group called “Cauldron”.

It hung in a crowded spot, so it was difficult to get a straight shot. I did not get a detail shot of the top part, but luckily my husband had taken one.

The quilts above are all from the Traditional, Two Person, or Group categories. I still have “a few” photos from the other categories to look through.

The last one in this post is from the Pictorial category.

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It was one of those crowded spots again, where I planned to return for a better shot, but ran out of time. Luckily, my husband had got a better shot of this one too:

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The quilt is called “Snowing” and was made by Abeer Al-Khammash, from Riyadh. Perhaps one of the places where you do not expect a winter motif like this to be made. Turns out it was made from a calendar picture, and very well done, too.

It received both a Highly Commended and a Judges Choice in the Pictorial category.

Stay tuned, – more goodies will come soon.

🙂

Eldrid