Even when life gets crowded, it’s imperative to find mental and emotional space where you can rest from the daily hustle, even for just a fleeting moment. Negative space in quilting is like breathing room; it is found in little snippets of space between, behind, and tucked around shapes that create room to breathe within a quilt design. Sometimes we focus so acutely on the main event that we miss the structure that holds everything together.
We hope the following quilts will provide a bit of oxygen for you in the midst of life's hullabaloo.
Untitled by Shashari Kiburi @ulaludie
Kiburi says about this quilt, “I wanted to create a graphic quilt that used negative space with a focus on line and shape. In addition, using hand-dyed black and green fabric added contrast and softened the overall composition. For me, in some way, all quilts tell a story. The drunkard’s path black has a long cross cultural history. I feel like every time I explore quilting, I am connecting my life to the past. At the same time, although abstract in design, I feel like this quilt is an autobiographical sketch. I created this untitled quilt as a reminder to stay inspired and embrace the detail and intricacy of life.”
Debris #1: Tornado by Bill Keller @billkellermaker
This quilt was developed from freely cut pieces of black fabric placed on Keller’s design wall. There was no initial concept or idea, just shapes. Keller likes to think of negative space as the space “behind.” While working on the quilt Keller realized that it may have been subconsciously influenced by news reports of tornados. Keller says about the tornado reports, “These stories often take place the day after the disaster, the scene is bright and the shattered remains are graphic; vegetation, homes, cars.. pieces of lives. There always seems to be some bright debris among the browns and blacks.”
Rhapsody by Elizabeth Gould @eagouldquilt
Gould started Rhapsody in a class taught by Irene Roderick. Her goal when making the quilt was to work on making the background shape, or negative space, more integral to the composition. She used a fractured square technique inspired by Carole Lyles Shaw, focusing on the shapes themselves. The machine quilting was done by Krista Moser.
Paper Cuts by Claire Victor @cvquilts
Victor is often inspired by tumbling blocks and origami. For Paper Cuts, she envisioned pieces of colored paper, suspended, and intersecting. The quilt was English paper pieced and the quilted on a domestic Bernina sewing machine.
Left Turn by Patty Dudek @elmstreetquilts
Left Turn was initially made for the QuiltCon 2022 Hexagon Challenge. Dudek says about the quilt, “Left Turn was an experiment in conquering some unique math, playing with new-to-me color combinations of wasabi and purple, and stretching myself on the use of negative space. The resulting almost three dimensional effect was an unexpected and delightful bonus.”
Balance by Irene Roderick @hixsonir
Balance began as strips left over from another project. Because of Covid, Roderick could not leave her house to buy fabric and wasn’t comfortable buying it online, so she made do with what she had on hand. She says, “In this piece, I was playing with the idea of finding the edge of ‘balance.’ How far could I push the design and have it appear stable? This work is entirely intuitive and visceral. I did not know beforehand what was going to happen but created through trial and error, literally dancing between the wall, the cutting mat, the sewing machine and the iron.”
You can see these quilts and more in Curated Quilts, Issue no.21: Negative Space. Purchase your copy today!
By Brittany Bowen Burton