First of all, it is held in a beautiful area. The Val d’Argent this time of year is charming, warm and friendly. Secondly, the quilts are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. There are magnificent quilt displays from all over the world: I saw displays from Pakistan, France, Spain, Israel, as well as individual master quilter’s shows, like Hilde von Schaardenburg from the Netherlands. All very different, all excellent.
I’ve noticed this before when we travel in the UK that there is a huge interest in traditional quilts and an equally huge interest in art quilts, with little in between. This was also the case in European Patchwork. It is not a criticism, only an observation. There is great dedication to traditional quilt work – especially evidenced in the French show, where I saw some absolutely spectacular hexagon and traditional pieced quilts, all made by hand. The other half of the French show was extremely avant garde fabric art: little of it flat, little of it three layers (like quilts), and all very exciting.
My first view of the challenge quilts was very much on the art side of things. Only a few were quilts as I know them – many were surface designed, or fabric manipulated to achieve the effects desired. I had NEVER seen such things before! There was a now familiar trend of holes in quilts here, too (I last saw this in Tacoma at the APWQ show), but oh, so much more!
Look at some of these close-ups from the challenge to see what I mean:
So you see why I started to get excited? I believe the challenge was to make a quilt (they were all the same size, medium wall-hanging) that reflected the word “tangled”.
This was the first of the shows I saw. There wasn’t much time in between our shows, and the other exhibitors were in the same position. They were to be with their quilts all day, every day. I had met Patricia Stoddard and her husband from Utah at one of the cocktail parties early on. We finally got to see her Ralli quilts from Pakistan on Sunday. It was quiet enough that she had the time to give me a personal tour of these amazing quilts. They are embroidered, pieced and/or appliqued, depending on the village in which they are made. The patterns are traditional, and Patricia said that although the work is generally very very good, they are not looking for perfection. Sometimes several quilters work on each one and any mistakes are left without fixing them.
The quilts made in India and Pakistan might well be from the earliest quilting tradition in the world. I’m so glad I saw them. Patricia has a book about them if you’d like to learn more.
From India and Pakistan quilts, we went to Israel. There, Ruth Eldar was kind enough to give me a quick overview of the exhibit. They chose many quilts that were representative of the iconic places there and there were many beautiful landscape/art quilts. Ruth also told me about the tradition of young people being married underneath a quilt. Four men hold up the corners of the quilt and the marrying couple stand below to say their vows.
I had heard of this tradition a long time ago, but it was great to learn more about it from Ruth.
We had a bit of time on the last day to head back down to the vendor’s mall to say our goodbyes to friends there, as well as for me to visit the Mola booth. There, I found a cornucopia of wonderful pieces made by the Kuna Indians of Panama for sale. The prices were high, so I only bought one, but I learned a bit more about these hand sewn reverse applique masterpieces, and I got to see some truly wonderful pieces. I will be teaching a class in Molas on the Caribbean tour in January, so it was good to hear some more stories about them.
We said goodbye to the Val d’Argent in our little car. Goodbye to our charming house at a corner of the village where everything seemed to pass by: dogwalkers, bicycles, motorcycles, logging trucks (before dawn!), dump trucks full of sand, garbage trucks, and even white stretch limos! We drove towards our next stop: Lochristi Belgium, through Luxembourg and around Brussels.
More on that later.
Tags: European Patchwork show