Top quilts tantalize eye of the beholder

No. 1: “Flower Market, Chichicastenango, Guatemala” won first place in Art: People, Portraits and Figures in last fall’s World of Beauty judged show in Houston. It was made by Meri Henriques Vahl of Soquel, Calif.

NO. 2: “Butterfly Dance” by Anna Faustino of Tobyhanna, Pa., took first in Art Abstract: Large.

NO. 3: “Feathers in the Wind” by Caryl Bryer Fallert of Paducah, Ky., was named first in the Art Abstract: Small category.

No. 4:  At left, “Mission: Impeccable” by Kumiko Frydl of Houston captured first prize in the Miniatures category.

NO. 5: “I’m Watching You” by Barbara McKie of Old Lyme, Conn., ranked first in the Digital Imagery category.

This week, I’m sharing a few quilts that won top awards at the 2010 World of Beauty judged show at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.

These were among a display of category winners that greeted visitors upon entry to the spring Quilt Market in Salt Lake City.

They were tantalizing examples of what quilters can do with the many products and fabrics sold by wholesalers at the twice yearly trade show.

1. A bustling and colorful Guatemalan market beckons the viewer into a large quilt by Meri Henriques Vahl of Soquel, Calif. Inspired by photographs Henriques Vahl took while visiting the Central American country in 2008, she brought them to life in “Flower Market, Chichicastenango, Guatemala.” It won first place in Art: People, Portraits and Figures.

“Women bring flowers, fruit and incense to the steps of the church in the central market plaza,” Henriques Vahl explains in her artist statement. Her techniques include collage, hand drawing, piecing and free-motion quilting.

2. For Anna Faustino of Tobyhanna, Pa., reverse applique, couching and embellishments earned her a first-place ribbon in Art Abstract: Large for her original design, “Butterfly Dance.” Her quilt previously won best of show at the Quilt Fest of New Jersey in 2010.

Faustino, who is Russian-born and holds dual citizenship in the U.S., has bachelor’s degrees in teaching and art. She’s also the author of a book titled “Stunning Woven Quilts.” You can see more of her quilts at

3. In the category Art Abstract: Small, first place went to a frequent show winner, Caryl Bryer Fallert of Paducah, Ky. Her entry, “Feathers in the Wind,” is 32nd in a series of patterns she has sketched of fantasy feathers based on both birds and plants.

Bryer Fallert used her own hand-dyed gradations fabric with machine piecing and quilting. She lives and works at Bryerpatch Studio in an artists enclave in Paducah.

Her website is www., where “Feathers in the Wind” is listed for sale at $7,200.

4. Kumiko Frydl of Houston also works in a series with a traditional Mariner’s Compass design. Her third piece, “Mission: Impeccable,” took first in the Miniatures category.

The quilt measures 16¾ inches square and features five small compass patterns, each with an astounding 128 points.

Frydl also won an award with this quilt at the Road to California show earlier in 2010.

Her meticulous sewing required foundation-pieced points, reverse applique and silk ribbon embroidery for embellishment. She used a Microtex 60 needle for the miniscule free-motion stippling on the background.

5. Quilt shows evolve with the times, and that’s why the International Quilt Association offers a category for digital imagery. First-place winner of this was Barbara McKie of Old Lyme, Conn., with a photograph of her friend’s dog, Preston, keeping an eye on her while his head rests on the back of a couch.

McKie titled it “I’m Watching You,” and employed a digital photo transfer process and disperse dye before heavily thread painting the pooch’s cute face.

More of her digital imagery on cloth can be seen at

I feel fortunate I’ve had the opportunity to see and closely study the prize-winning work of some of today’s premiere quilters. I hope the accompanying photos on this page give you a glimpse of this experience as well.

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Email Sherida.Warner


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