As with any pursuit, practice can make perfect, but it can also make the seemingly imperfect amazing. In the case of these two star-pattern based quilts, each of the quilters’ significant skills in manipulating materials and atypical design created extraordinary works of art.
Virginia Atkinson Watkins’ child’s quilt has been carefully constructed to contrast the patterns of the fabrics, and their impact by the way in which the individual pieces of brown striped fabric were cut. This technique, known as “fussy cutting,” creates a soft texture at the edges. It was time consuming and required a greater amount of fabric than usual in order to match the elaborate patterns within the stars. In this piece, each square, and the quilt as a whole, was bordered with a rich, foliate-patterned fabric that visually contrasts with the geometric regularity of the stars. The entire quilt was then stipple stitched (using tiny stitches) to give the overall surface a puckered texture. The complications of construction, the materials required, and skill needed to create this quilt would suggest that, in addition to skill, the maker was blessed with both time and access to abundant resources.
Nora Ezell’s Star Puzzle, 2001, demonstrates her ability to combine large numbers of shapes and colors to suggest elaborate layers in which the forms seem to advance and recede into space. She also plays with the contrast of cool and warm colors to enhance that sense of movement. Shattering the star forms produces a twentieth-century style composition that references abstraction. Ezell was dedicated to her craft of quilt making, and she consistently recorded the hours required to piece and quilt each of her products. She took a great deal of pride in the fact that it was her own hard work as an individual that earned her recognition as one of Alabama’s most accomplished quilters.
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