What is an Art Quilt?

June Blooms art quilt, by Karen Gillis Taylor, 2012

I received this question after one of my blogs for McCall’s Quilting magazine, when I showed an art quilt I’d made. WONDerful question! Quilters do know the basic definition of a quilt: A three- layered fabric construction consisting of the all-important TOP layer, pieced from many fabrics, with a middle layer of batting, (somewhat cushioning stuffing, for you non-quilters) and a bottom fabric layer called the backing. The beauty of this 3-layered construction is often in the interesting sculptural relief created by the quilting process, however subtle. One of my painting instructors at the U of Colorado created an all-white quilt for the faculty exhibit, and so his main focus was on the lines and shapes he could create with fabric and quilting! Who knew? and this was in the 70’s. So when is a quilt an art quilt?

Art Quilt by Michael James

Fast forward to the 80’s, when I saw my very first contemporary quilting exhibit on a discovery trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1985, (visiting my former college roomie, Judy, who moved there and never left.) Holy Cow! The Michael James quilt I saw was pure art, and there were many more to see as well.

My own definition of an art quilt is personal to me, based on the first one I made while producing textile projects for my teaching certificate in art at CU Boulder. An art quilt portrays an image made of fabric, and is unique to the creator, reflecting the creator’s own design and color decisions that make it a one-of-a-kind creation.

Petal Power art quilt, Karen Gillis Taylor, 2012

I would like to encourage anyone who would like to try making an art quilt to jump in and make one. All you need is an idea for starters. Make a simple pencil sketch. (All my paintings and art quilts begin with a simple drawing, only about 4 x 5″ maximum!)

Small pencil sketch for art quilt idea, KGTaylor, 2012

Here’s my newest sketch for the next floral art quilt project. Looks pretty rough, right? Ideas are born from pencil sketches, straight from the brain to the paper. Come back and visit when I explore drawing, and how it’s the beginning of it all for we creative types.

Guess what? Anyone who wants to dive in and make their first art quilt could benefit from starting with a design offered from a pattern. You can make the final product your own, because you will put in your own colors and fabric choices, and sometimes even change up the positioning of the templates.  More on this later.

Think about how you perhaps made your first sewing garment from a pattern and changed it up to make it better, more YOU! I made my creative sewing “chops” on this principle! That’s what I’m talkin’ about, friends. Comments please if you wish!

Have some weekend fun,



One Response to “What is an Art Quilt?”

  1. Leslie Ann Clark Says:

    cool! It will be fun to try this!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: