Collaboration with Unknown Quilters, by Elaine Luther, 2019

In this quilt top, I’ve combined found quilt blocks from two different and unknown quilters, into one.

My creative constraints for this type of project are:

  • No new quilt blocks (well, okay, I had to make just one block in order to make this work, using squares pre-cut by the other person, and add a strip to the other style block).
  • No un-doing of their work.  I can add, but not take away.

I decided, after consulting with other quilters, no borders. I like this, as I don’t like mitering corners for borders anyway!

I read recently that borderless quilts are a modern style, so great, more reasons to leave them off.

The back will be a pieced backing using fabric I already have on hand, in similar yellows and blues.

This is a relatively small quilt, kind of a napping size. I wanted to combine these blocks that are two such different colors exactly to highlight the source and the incomplete nature of them.

I don’t know if anyone will understand that when they look at this, when it’s finished, or if they will just think I’m very bad at quilting.

One unexpected challenge that I ran into with this is that the 9 patch blocks, the unknown quilter had already pieced 3 rows. I machine sewed the rest and my seems were different then theirs, so I’ll be squaring things up before I put the layers together (read: lopping some bits off.)

Quilt in progress by Elaine Luther, made with found quilt blocks.

Where do these “found object” or orphaned quilt blocks come from? Sometimes I buy them and sometimes people give them to me. They give them to me with the understanding that I’m going to make art out of them and they give me the okay to do whatever with them.

I identify with this quote, from Miriam Shapiro, shared on twitter by arts writer Mary Gregory:

Quote by Miriam Shapiro

Tweet by Mary Gregory, showing Quote by Miriam Shapiro and an image of her work.

This is the first in what could become a series of this kind of work, I’ll keep an open mind! I’ve been collecting these blocks for years and have used them in assemblage sculptures and collage paintings. This is my first venture into using them as they were intended!

Want to read more about why I use quilts in my art? Here’s an essay from 2014: