Quilts for the Next Generation


If, when you think of quilts, you picture calico squares stitched together in designs only your great-great-grandmother would appreciate, it’s time to reconsider. The San Francisco Quilters’ Guild show opens this weekend, and the textiles on display meld technology with age-old crafts in quilts that are more artwork than artifact.

No one illustrates the point more clearly than Marcia Stein of San Francisco, one of the featured artists and author of Picture This! Applique Pictorial Quilts from Photo to Fabric. Stein started by sewing her own clothes, but eventually combined her love of photography and sewing to create photo-realistic quilts. Take a look at a photo she took of a truck in Santa Fe:

And then how she reimagined it in cloth:

“Many people think of quilting as something their grandmother did,” Stein says. “When people see my work, they often say something like ‘that’s a quilt?'”

In her work, Stein utilizes digital photography, inkjet transparencies and a computer graphics program that lets her zoom in on the photos to pick up fine details. From there, she uses a sewing machine to applique cloth into quilt forms.

Other pieces on display at the show, called Symphony of Color this year, include Sidewalk Cafe, inspired by a photo of a South-of-France eatery.

And Gypsy Legs, which is made after a photo Stein snapped of a woman dancing in a Provence street festival.

Stein honors her mother by immortalizing her in Mama’s Got a New Set o’ Wheels. The photo and the quilt show Stein’s mother in her 1954 Chevy convertible.

Stein’s work is just a small part of the event, which will feature 300 new quilts created by guild members and the other featured artist, Janet Mednick. Mednick is the artist behind this piece of fiber art, called Quilting with the Stars. Clearly, it’s a modern take on the traditional form.

There’s also an historic exhibition focusing on provisions a Civil War soldier would have needed (including a quilt from that era); demonstrations, including hand-quilting skills by the Dorcas Quilters, a group whose services are so sought-after, their waiting list is two years long; and a quilting marketplace.

The event takes place Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at the Concourse Exhibition Center at 635 8th St.


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