Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Monday, April 19, 2010

Art Quilts Not Bound by Tradition

"What Is Life?" 2005, 21x21 inches

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
-- Crowfoot (Blackfeet), circa 1880

Quilting Arts Magazine ( has resurrected an article that I wrote for them five years ago ("Not Bound by Tradition," Fall 2005) and included it in their free online eBook, titled "How to Bind a Quilt: 12 New Quilt Bindings and Finishing Methods for Your Art Quilts." I think if you click here, it will take you there.

Anyway, the above quilt is the one pictured with the original article. I made it for an invitational exhibit at Womanspace in Rockford, IL, based on the theme "Poems of a Different Color." (Womanspace is one of the places I most miss about Rockford. Take a look at their website,, and newsletter.)

Here are a few more of my quilts that don't use traditional bindings on the edges. (You can also check out my April 6 blog entry to see a better closeup of painted batting on one of my chocolate quilts.)

"Pink Rock," 2002, 50x40 inches

The darker pink peeking out from around the edges is actually batting that I painted. The batting really soaks up paint, so I only did the edges (before I did the quilting). It's a whole-cloth quilt that started as white cotton. First, I painted it in pinks, oranges and purples, then I stamped it with petroglyph figures. I used some commercial stamps and others that I cut myself from compressed sponges or carved into foam meat trays. I applied some foil and scrunched up tulle for more texture. (Rocks are textured.) Final step was to quilt it with a pattern derived from rock strata in Zion National Park, Utah. (I haven't been there -- yet -- but I referenced a photo of rocks there.) I left dangling thread tails to add to the rough feeling.

"Fragments," 2007, 41x30 inches

The black border is the cotton backing fabric, with its edges left raw. The edges of the front also are raw, and the batting is hidden in between the backing and the front.

Left is a detail of how I finished the edges of "Spring" (2006). The front was made by loosely weaving strips of fabric on top of the pink background. The backing (the same pink fabric) extends beyond the front, and batting is layered in between. All edges are raw.

"Too Much Fun," 2002, 18x18 inches

This was a quickie, made by tossing scraps of my favorite colors onto some batting, topping it with the orange lady, and drizzling the whole thing with sparkly threads. I let the black backing fabric extend around the edges to frame it before quilting in spirals with gold thread. Final step was a little beaded embellishment, and a couple of years later I added shiny sunglasses.

"Light," 2004, 32x41 inches

This was made in the same manner as "Fragments." I used overlapping layers of hand-painted silk organza, cotton, and other sheers to create rich layers of color. As usual, I left the gold thread tails dangling because I like the way they glitter.

Signing off, from gray, drizzly Gig Harbor

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Julaine Lofquist-Birch said...

Faab-ulous, Sherrie!

michele said...

Thank you for sharing! You are a woman after my own heart.
Here in Brooklyn, N.Y. I get to our awesome beaches whenever possible, scavenge and take macro photos, am an art quilter, and LOVE THOSE RAW EDGES.

Judy Ferguson said...

I do not live by the sea. I enjoy looking at your pictures of the sea creatures. I also love raw edge work. You are your own person and not bound by all the traditions. This I like a lot.

Judith said...

Sherrie, I love your work! i will e-mail a message to you.
Judith Koren-Shanahan