Sky Horse, Houston, and Focus for Future Quilts

Tatum_SkyHorse_Full 2014

Sky Horse. A deep space quilt inspired by NASA photos of the Horsehead Nebula

The judges have finished judging and the notifications have gone out, and Sky Horse did not win a ribbon.  Sew I thought I would go ahead and share the finished pictures with you.  The problem has always been getting a good photo of the quilt because of the way it reflects the light.  But the one above is the best I could get after getting a special lens and all.  Here’s the detail:

Tatum-SkyHorse-Detail 2014

I have no idea how well it traveled.  I did my best in packing it to travel without developing serious folds or breaking of the Angelina Fibers applique (if you can call it that).  I have had good success in the traveling of my first deep space quilt Stellar Nursery.  It’s tougher than you might think once it gets the black veiling sewn on and the all-over quilting.

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of "Mountains of Creation".  My first deep space quilt.

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of “Mountains of Creation”. My first deep space quilt.

I am very happy to have Sky Horse in Quilt Fest in Houston.  It’s a true honor just to get in that show.  Of course, I’m a little disappointed not to get a ribbon, but the quilts that go there are incredible and I also think I did not capture the Horsehead Nebula as well as I wanted to.  I may try again some day.

Over the past few months I have had several discussions with two well-known quilters who both suggested to me that I pick one or two styles and make lots of quilts in those styles reaching constantly for improvement with each new quilt. I think on the whole that they are right.  But I will confess that this is difficult for me because I love so many kinds of art style quilts. 

The first is 1.  deep space quilts as seen above and just for reference here are several from my other styles,

2.  Story landscape quilts:  They tell a story on some kind of landscape:



The Storyteller

The Storyteller

Then I have the 3.  line drawings/blue print quilts:


Dad’s House Plan–a memory quilt for my Dad. This quilt was juried into AQS Chattanooga and will be there this week.

Perspective in Threads - This quilt was recently juried in to Houston's Tactile Architecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

Perspective in Threads – This quilt was recently juried in to Houston’s Tactile Architecture special exhibit and will be in the Houston show and traveling for a year thereafter.

And then there is my newest style, which one might call 4.  Innovative.  This quilt is meant to be the first of a series of silk quilts focused on ancient illuminated manuscripts and other old European and American artwork.

Canterbury Silk.  This quilt has been juried in to MQX Midwest and will be debuted there this year.

Canterbury Silk. This quilt has been juried in to MQX Midwest and will be debuted there this year.

Sew in principle, I agree with my quilting friends…4 styles is a lot to build a reputation on, and one needs to focus on a style or two and make many of those quilts.  It’s much like the decision I had to make many years ago to reduce my multiple crafts down to focus on fabric arts. But I have not yet decided.  They are all fun.  What do you think?



10 thoughts on “Sky Horse, Houston, and Focus for Future Quilts

  1. Robin says:

    BJ, I think you will be happier if you pursue the quilts you want to make, whether that is two styles or four styles or even more. Some quilters do very well limiting themselves to one or two styles, but others do equally well pursuing multiple styles (think Ricky Tims or Hollis Chatelain). The important thing is to pursue what makes you happy, and if you happen to win ribbons for that work, that’s the icing on the cake. Every quilt provides some learning, and sometimes what you learn from one style of quilt surprisingly applies to a completely different style of quilt, so if you limit yourself, you will lose that potential “aha!” Someday, you may find yourself making mostly one style of quilt, but let it happen naturally, not forced. I’m looking forward to meeting you in Houston! Hugs, Robin

  2. Liz Renner says:

    Do what you love… that’s what I think. Unless you are in it for the money (well… that’s not an easy thing, is it?), I believe doing what you love (whenever possible) is the way to live life. Is it competition? Gaining a following? Teaching what you know? etc. I’m no where near your level, but I would not want to give up all the new techniques to learn and grow with, all the different styles, all that. I’d be very unhappy doing only the same thing and improving on it. What makes you happy, Betty Jo? That’s what I think… do what makes you happy.

  3. Dee says:

    I agree that you should do what you have the most fun doing… will show in the finished work. That being said, I really love your Story/Landscape pieces…..I think you could find enough fresh ideas and themes to carry on with those for quite a while. I’ll be interested to see what you decide!

  4. Carla says:

    Betty Jo, quilting should make your heart happy and feed your creative/artistic soul. Do what interests you, what makes you happy. I guess, figure out why you are quilting, is it for the joy in expressing your inner artist, or is it to gain recognition and ribbons. Only you can say.

    • Carla, I agree it should be that way. The question I am considering is how do I want to hammer out my own niche. I am about to decide not to decide any elimination of the four styles, but I will not be adding any new ones for a while and see how things go from here. Recognition and ribbons are not necessary for my ego, but they do usually mean money. I would like to make at least enough money to self support this endeavor. As it now stands, I spend a lot and make nothing, or next to nothing on my quilting. This would not mean I would in any way abandon making quilts I love to do.

  5. I think your work stands alone and is not judged on how it fits into a recognizable style unless you are going for something like Quilt National or are looking to build a business around sale of your quilts. Pursue your whim du juor and I am confident a more focused style will present itself. It’s all got to be about your joy. Preconceived notions about building a style may rob your joy. I love your work and see your passion in it, no matter the style.

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