Thursday, September 13, 2007

Silhouette Quilts

I rarely meet a quilt I don't want to take home and cuddle up to. And usually I'm a nut about details. Lately I've fallen under the spell of crazy quilts and the endless possibilities of embroidered embellishments. But my cousin introduced me to silhouette quilts and I'm in awe of what power these images have. Without detail, simply outline, the effect is stunning!

Lee Ann Cimperman's website features a silhouette quilt of sports figures. The martial arts quilt actually reflects the action and strength of the art, with simple silhouettes. And Fran Morgan's book Silhouette Art Quilts demonstrates even more graphically the power of these basic shapes.

I say without detail. But if you think of the art of paper cutting -- scherenschnitte -- detail certainly abounds. In fact, it was paper cutting that led Mary (my cousin) into the silhouette quilt making. Pamela Dalton's gallery of scherenschnitte begs a visit. Amazing detail and she incorporates color into some of her creations. The photo above was copied from the website Suzanne Quilts and details the awards this 78x84-inch quilt has won. But sadly does not tell the full name of the maker.

1990: A booklet by Claudia Hopf called Scherenschnitte: Traditional Papercutting (l977) inspired me to make this quilt. The designs were originally intended for Valentines, New Year's greetings, or book plates. This was my "travel quilt," as I appliqued the squares on trips.


  • The Grand Prize in Applique from Better Homes and Gardens Books awarded at the International Quilt Festival in l990.
  • Scherenschnitte won First Prize in Professional Applique at the American Quilter's Society Show in Paducah, KY, l992.
  • Best Workmanship at Quilter's Heritage Celebration in Lancaster, PA, l99l
  • Featured in America's Heritage Quilts, edited by Pat Wilens, Better Homes and Gardens Books, l99l.

My cousin's love of genealogy, family history and old photographs also play a part. As seen in Louise Handley's book Fabric Silhouettes: Quilted Treasures from the Family Album, family photos make excellent sources for silhouette quilts.

I haven't seen my cousin's work in progress, I hope to post some photos of it here soon. Currently she's caught up in a genealogy search, so quilting has taken back seat to the hunt for hidden ancestors.

And, if you like the detail of crazy quilts or better yet, a Baltimore Album Quilt -- check out Elly Sienkiewicz's Silhouette portraits as seen on Alex Anderson's HGTV program Simply Quilts.

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