Keep your perspective when mapping a quilt

K. Velis Turan of Earlton, N.Y., based her mixed-media work on New York City. It’s titled “MidTown A and B.”

“From Stone” by Hollis Chatelain of Hillsborough, N.C., was inspired by a trip to Australia in 2011 and a beach near Brisbane with moonlike rocks. Chatelain used blue jeans to re-create the natural beauty of the area

“Fiber maps can tell a powerful story,” says Valerie S. Goodwin of Tallahassee, Fla., describing her quilt “African Burial Ground III.” It chronicles the previously forgotten and hidden life of African slaves living in lower Manhattan during colonial times.

This piece is an aerial view of the Nirgal Valley on Mars, explains its creator Paulette Landers of Camp Nelson, Calif. She titled it “Mars: Penstemons Also Grow Here” and says the subject is not the Mars of scientists, but rather a vibrant garden of beauty and peace where she retreats for inspiration.

“A View from Above” by Sheila Frampton-Cooper of Van Nuys, Calif., won first prize in the art quilt category at the fall International Quilt Festival in Houston.

SHEILA FRAMPTON-COOPER, art quilter and curator of “Perspectives: Fantasy and Reality.” See more of her work at

She thought her lush California garden inspired her award-winning quilt, but Sheila Frampton-Cooper of Van Nuys changed her perspective after the judges and other viewers got a closer look at her work of art.

People told her it looked like the view from an airplane when flying over the United States, but Frampton-Cooper says she hadn’t thought of that.

“It so happened that I flew from Ohio to Los Angeles and looked out the window, and I saw the quilt,” she says.

Her art is improvisational rather than consciously planned, yet Frampton-Cooper’s style often results in the look of topography. That’s what led to her curation of an exhibit titled “Perspectives: Fantasy and Reality,” 21 quilts inspired by maps, aerial views and topography of actual or imaginary places.

The exhibit is on display through this weekend at the Road to California Quilter’s Conference and Showcase in Ontario, Calif.

It’s her first experience as a curator, and Frampton-Cooper says she’s happy to have beautiful quilts “with great stories” in this exhibit. One of those is by artist and architect Valerie S. Goodwin of Tallahassee, Fla., who is credited with putting architecture at the forefront of today’s quilting trends.

Goodwin’s quilt, measuring 42 inches by 45 inches, is titled “African Burial Ground III,” her depiction of an actual place in U.S. history.

“The previously forgotten and hidden life of African slaves living in lower Manhattan during colonial times spoke to me as a vehicle for artistic examination,” Goodwin explains.

Likewise, exhibitor K. Velis Turan of Earlton, N.Y., describes her motivation for “MidTown A and B” as the bridges and roads and the energy of cities in general, New York City in particular.

“My intention is not to idealize the city, nor to replicate it exactly, but to leave viewers with a feeling of it,” Turan says.

The lines and symmetry of buildings influence Frampton-Cooper’s art as well, and she specializes in photographing all types of architecture. Her first art quilt made in 2010, “Life in the City,” reflects her observations of growing up in L.A.

Another quilt, “Sunset Cinema,” captures the architecture and sunsets in Malibu. It is now in the collection of Alex Anderson, a renowned national quilter and co-star of “The Quilt Show,” an online production.

Amazingly, Frampton-
Cooper has only been quilting since 2009, when she showed up to donate fabric at a Project Linus service day. Project Linus is a national charity that provides handmade quilts to children in hospitals, shelters and other areas of need. 

“The following year I did nothing but make quilts for the organization,” she says.

Quickly moving into art quilts, Frampton-Cooper picked up a first-place prize with “A View from Above” at the 2011 International Quilt Festival in Houston. It’s the piece that catapulted her style onto the quilting scene.

Now Frampton-Cooper is in demand, as artist in residence at the Empty Spools Seminar next month in Pacific Grove, Calif., and in an upcoming appearance on “The Quilt Show.” She’ll also be featured in Quilt Life magazine.

One of her creations is entered in Quilt National 2013, and Frampton-Cooper will be an instructor in 2014 at Empty Spools and Art Quilt Tahoe.

“I really want to share with others how I create intuitively,” she says. “I never use a pattern or sketches, and I find piecing — without pins — challenging and gratifying.”

Cotton fabric is her preference — “I’m traditional in that way.” Beyond that, she improvises, and says “I’m not making maps of real places necessarily.”

Doodling comes natural for Frampton-Cooper, so free-form quilting is a no-brainer. Often choosing echo quilting, she matches thread to fabric while working on a Bernina 820 machine.

Frampton-Cooper also has an Innova longarm machine, at which she can sit and stitch. But mostly she sews on the domestic Bernina, saying that her quilt style doesn’t require a lot of fancy stitching.

“Basically,” she summarizes, “I love this world of quilting. It has changed my life in every way. I’m obsessed.”

From my own perspective, Frampton-Cooper’s obsession puts yet another hallmark on the quilting map. I like the direction she’s going.

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