Saturday, January 24, 2009

Florida with Fabric Flair

When moving from the Midwest to Florida, I didn't think that quilt shows would change much.

Of course I also didn't expect to see birds preying on cats, sink holes swallowing houses, or little anoles serving as my signs of hope. I truly live in a Dr. Seuss world and I'm not alone in that thinking. Here's a quilt "UR Makn Me Kraze, by Norma Schaut of Merritt Island that says it all!

I went blithely to my first Cabin Fever quilt show in January 2004 and began to fall in love or at least 'like' with Florida. After a summer here I realize that cabin fever is a real thing when temperatures and humidity combine to keep most of us tied to some form of air conditioning for months on end. Yet in that first January, a month after we had arrived, I saw a glimpse of what others find so delightful in this land of sand and sunshine.

I return each year to charge up on the tropical beauty and quirky sense of humor (note the photo of the beach flip flops quilt by Josephine Steege of Orlando) and the truly Florida quilts I find at the Cabin Fever Quilt Show held around the 20th of January every year at the fairgrounds on West Colonial Drive, about 40 minutes from my home.

This year disappointed because two of the biggest names in Florida quilting circles and members of the Cabin Fever guild chose not to display any quilts -- Nancy Prince and Mary Sorensen. They are sadly missed at least by me. But others have stepped up with beautiful work to fill the gap.

Merritt Island award winning artist Diane Smith's work always draws me in. She mans a booth "FiberSmith" each year where she sells her dyes and chemicals, Angelina Fibers, SHIVA paintstiks, Tsukineko inks, her own hand dyed fabrics. Diane also offers fabric dyeing retreats, workshops and lectures. and some of her beautiful work. It was her sunset silhouette that first made me find the love of Florida. (See photo above.) She surprised me at her diversity, creating some of the most amazing geometric abstracts, too.

The Three Crafty Ladies from Sanibel Island (a beautiful area) set up shop each year and bring in their quirky Florida patterns that include an unusual network of fabric sea shells and star fish that loosely connect into a table runner. I always think of crochet when I see the way the tips of one object are loosely stitched to the next.

Another very simple pattern that always makes me smile -- a big fat fish shaped place mat. (See him to the upper left in accompanying photo.) Strip pieced and complete with one round eye, it shouts Florida! And the fabrics and colors that are pure Florida.

The quilt show is well attended, hosts a fine merchant mall, outside dining (can't do that in Ohio in January), demonstrations nonstop throughout the day and smiles all around. They also host a silent auction for small quilts the members have made and this year they opened a boutique to sell quilts that the members have for sale including a sweet Nancy Prince thread painting.

I bought a wall hanging 4x4-foot for only $35 at the boutique. And I think I'm in love! Shimmery batik fabrics, metallic thread, a beautiful use of colors and cloth. Simple but striking and made by Joyce Scarbrough of Orlando. I had admired her work in several categories throughout the show and was excited to bring home a piece of her work.

They offer a variety of displays of fabric art created throughout the year for and by special interest groups they support. And Teddy Pruett, an American Quilt Society certified appraiser was on hand to offer her wisdom to place value on family heirlooms.

Not everything is kitch or even tropical or Florida inspired of course. Many of the members from the Space Coast and on into Central Florida have taken classes through their local guilds who bring in well known teachers and many beautiful quilts result from these encounters. Many produce some exciting traditional quilts and the art of hand applique and quilting is still alive and well in Florida. Yet, they manage to capture the essence of Florida's lifestyle. I've included several photos and hope you find them as delightful as I did.

Note the use of citrus colors, makes my mouth water, in this quilt, Silver Celebration, by Mary Beth Krapil of Orlando. She made it to commemorate Cabin Fever's 25th anniversary. What a clever use of log cabin blocks.

An abundance of metallic thread and shimmering batiks made there way into several quilts. Of course nature inspires many of the Florida or tropical quilts on display. Such as "Night Birds" by Norma Schaut of Merritt Island -- photo below.

These are but a sampling of "Florida inspired" or inspiring fabric art at the Cabin Fever Show, and I haven't even touched on the art quilts....

That's for another blog!

The Sunshine State Quilters Guild offers a list of quilts you could possibly win in the state of Florida this year. Visit their website and see what events are planned in the Sunshine State and what quilts are being raffled, including the Cabin Fever raffle quilt (which I hope to win!).

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