Brooklyn quilters display their artistry

Recognizable Brooklyn scenes — the Brooklyn Bridge to the Aquarium, each in fabric square blocks in a quilt, greeted quilters and fans as they entered the downtown Brooklyn exhibit. This weekend, at the NY Marriot, more than 500 attended the “Brooklyn Squared” 2014 Quilt Show that displayed the skilled and loving work of members of The Quilters’ Guild of Brooklyn.

A masterful combination of color, design, and fabric, these quilts are art pieces that draw inspiration from all kinds of sources. The quilters use hand and machine quilting, hand embroidery, and appliqué. Some pieces came from traditional quilting patterns others were completely member-designed. Some of the masterpieces were up to eight-feet by eight-feet.

Williamsburg resident, Sylvia Hernandez, working with El Puente Arts wanted to make a quilt for Black History month. The result was her “Postcards from the Ancestors,” quilted photos, and printed on fabric, of 30 commemorative Postal Service stamps. The luminaries, literally the fabric of the quilt, include Frederick Douglas and Rosa Parks, and Billy Holiday and Duke Ellington. Ms. Hernandez is an 11-year member of the Guild. She also exhibited a graffiti-inspired quilt.

“It’s like painting with fabric,” says Arlene “Kweli” Jones, whose brown, gold, and black machine appliquéd and quilted “Kalabash” quilt was among the two she shared at the bi-annual Guild show. Clearly the quilt was inspired from her travels to Ghana. A retired adult education teacher who sources her supplies from her large personal accumulated stash – “I buy fabric because I like it”– disclosed that the idea takes longer than the execution.

When members were asked, “Why quilt?” The response always included: creative and artistic expression.

Ten-year member Shirley Cox took two years to figure out the construction of her quilt with fabric origami pieces. “My instructor said, ‘that’s not how it’s supposed to be done,’” she said of her sampler piece named Shopping Sue. “I said, ‘This is how I need to do it.’” In the end, the instructor was happily appreciative. How did she get her start? Sewing since the age of eight — dolls, and later clothes for her children, Ms. Cox got hooked at a class at a senior center in Queens where she made one square.

The Guild, observing its 21st year, has monthly meetings of talks by experts and workshops every third Saturday, September through June, in Winsor Terrace where all are invited to attend (for info: [email protected]). “We get support, inspiration, knowledge, and it’s very social,” one member shared.

Gladys Watson’s quilt named “Ghana Mother Land” was inspired from two months spent in Ghana, 14 years ago. “I was so excited!” she said of her trip that translated years later to this eight-foot square quilt with a fan motif, pieced with African prints (local supplier Yara Fabrics sourcing the fabrics all from Ghana). It took Ms. Watson, a neophyte to quilting, eight months, off and on, to complete.

The 2014 quilt show included a full schedule of demonstrations and vendors on hand selling fabrics and sewing machines.

The Quilter’s Guild of Brooklyn attracts retired professionals, moms at home, and full-time working New Yorkers as members who find a creative and very satisfying outlet with quilting. Additionally, the Guild supports numerous service out-reach efforts.

Members travel from all parts of New York City for the camaraderie, skill-building, and inspiration membership offers. For more info: www.quiltbrooklyn.org.

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