Saturday, February 29, 2020

Great quilts on display

My dear friend and quilting pal Vickie Wheatley has a great show of her bright, intricate quilts at PYRO Gallery.  I have been working closely with Vickie for more than a year and it is a particular thrill to see pieces that we spent all day rearranging on the design wall finally on the gallery wall.  But I was most interested in the variety of small details in the many pieces on display, which so clearly show her trying out new things and progressing in her body of work.

For some time now Vickie has been exploring a design that starts with strips of random black and white piecing that make a "road" diagonally through the middle of her block.  Once that's in place, she fills out the corners of the block with colored strips.  When she sets the blocks in fours, you see a big diagonal grid of black-and-white roads, or maybe a bunch of colored squares or diamonds floating above a sea of black-and-white, depending on how you look at it.

Then she adds a twist: she sticks little miscellaneous bits and cuttings under the quilting thread.  And I do mean little -- some of the bits are only a quarter-inch wide.  The contrast between these wildly irregular bits and the meticulously pieced quilt top adds excitement and texture.

As the series progresses, you can see her experimenting.  In #1, the black-and-white strips are cut to a strict 45 degree angle, but in #5 they're wonky.  In #4 she has put so many bits and cuttings on top that you can barely see the underlying pattern of the blocks. 

Anxieties #1: Imperfections

Anxieties #4: The River Lethe

In #3 and #4 she adds sashing between the blocks, and cuts some of the square blocks into rectangles before sashing.

Anxieties #3: Breakdown

As you can imagine, when you sew strips together and then cut triangles from them to make the corners of your blocks, you end up with a lot of leftovers.  Vickie sewed more than a dozen small quilts from the leftovers, and it was fun to see how she varied their colors and personalities, even though she was working from the same huge scrap pile.

In the next post I'll show you the many different ways Vickie finished her small pieces for display at the gallery. 

Meanwhile, the show is up at PYRO Gallery through March 21.  Well worth a detour if you're anywhere near Louisville!


  1. Those are some very cool quilts with unique names. She has an amazing talent and knowledge of fusing. Not sure what I like better, her buildings or birds.
    xx, Carol

    1. Carol -- none of these quilts use fusing -- they're all machine pieced!!

  2. Thank you, my friend and mentor. It has been a wonderful journey, working with you. One that will continue for as many years as the hands and eyes still work, I hope! That you are willing to share your time, expertise, humor, and support is a benefit, not only to me, but to the many artists online and in our community whose lives you touch!

  3. Wowza! Absolutely gorgeous. The designs, the design method she has imposed on herself, the colors, all coalesce into contemporary art in the medium of quilts, fiber arts.