Art of Quilting – January/February 2006

A R T   O F   quilting
Portrait quilts
Throughout 2006, our Art of Quilting feature will present a different quilt genre in each issue. Our first installment shows portrait quilts by five outstanding quilt artists.
Pportrait quilts are a special type of pictorial quilts that feature a person. Portrait quilt artists use a variety of tools to create realistic images. Generally starting with a photograph, artists such as those featured here use fabric, thread, and sometimes paint or other special materials to create details in facial expression, clothing, setting, and background. Embroidery work, quilting, appliqu&eactue;, and beading are also often added.
These talented artists expand the meaning of what constitutes a quilt.
Rundy, 41″ x 50″, 2005.
A helpful neighbor inspired Marilyn Belford to design this lifelike quilt. The photo was taken inside the studio, the outdoor background added later. A search of various mission shops netted the plaids of the shirt and jacket. “I like to use both sides of fabric for light and shadow differences,” says Marilyn. “To get the jeans to look real, I purchased an old, well-used denim jacket, carefully opened the seams.” She then “threadpainted” to further enhance the realistic qualities of the work and to add a sparkle of life to the portrait. For more information on this and other Marilyn Belford quilts, go to
Designer Contact:
Marilyn Belford
543 South Street
Chenango, NY 13746
Grace, 48″ x 57½”, 2000.
This quilt was commissioned by Jim Bagley of The Grace Company to honor his mother. Charlotte Warr Anderson included a portrait of present-day Grace in the foreground, with Grace and her late husband Joseph, pictured circa 1945, behind her. In the background are the Teton Mountains, an area which Grace loves. The faces in the window of the cabin represent Grace’s nine children, and the eight groupings of Hill and Valley blocks in the border represent her grandchildren. For more information on this and other Charlotte Warr Anderson quilts, email
Designer Contact:
Charlotte Warr Anderson
5740 Wilderland Lane
Salt Lake City, UT 84118
Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou
Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou, 36″ x 24″, 2003.
Hand-lettered lines from Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” poem create spotlight rays in Stacy West’s exquisite quilt. Stacy used Photoshop® to eliminate the background, increase the contrast, and decrease the number of colors in the original photograph, enabling her to reduce the face to a minimal range of values without losing the essence of the subject’s identity. For more information on this and other Stacy West quilts, go to
Designer Contact:
Stacy West
Flight of Fancy
Flight of Fancy, 41″ x 41″, 2003.
In the imaginative mind of a child nothing seems impossible. Designer Maria Elkins says, “I’ve tried to capture the spirit of a little boy who fearlessly leaps, completely unaware of the strong hands ready to catch him.” In the border, a variety of flying machines, from a Wright Flyer III to a Boeing 747, take to the skies. For more information on this and other quilts by Maria Elkins, go to
Designer Contact:
Maria Elkins
Mom, 18″ x 20″, 2002.
After finding an old photograph of her mother as a young child, designer Bonnie Lyn McCaffery decided to show that painted faces could be done in sepia tones. If a sepia tone photo is not available, a color or black-and-white photo can also be used. Bonnie used DecoArt SoSoft Fabric Paints to create this lifelike image of her mother. For more information on this and other quilts by Bonnie Lyn McCaffery, go to
Designer Contact:
Bonnie Lyn McCaffery
HC-8 Box 8526
Hawley, PA 18428

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