A trip to the Open European Quilt Championships

October had been such a busy month, that I didn’t even have time to blog about it, but on October 17th I visited the Open European Quilt Championships in Veldhoven in the south of the Netherlands. I took the day off work so that I didn’t have to visit at the weekend, when the Championship is much more crowded. It was a drizzly wet grey day, but I got there early (complete with the wheeled trolley from September’s makeover) and inside it was all colour and cheerfulness and the growing buzz of quilters getting their fix! 

A view of part of the OEQC exhibition floor

A view of part of the OEQC exhibition floor

I did the ‘quilt’ bit first: there were quilts entered for this year’s Championship theme ‘Berlin’ as well as quilts in general categories (novice, intermediate, advanced, art etc etc). There was a good variety and some interesting work. Unusually, the quilts were not hung against a background, so all the backs were also viewable: that was very interesting! It made taking good photo’s difficult, and was at times a bit distracting, but the whole hall had a nice roomy feel because of it. It is certainly something to keep in mind with future submissions – some of the backs were obviously not prepared for such exposure!

More quilts at the OEQC, some with the desirable yet elusive rosette!

More quilts at the OEQC, some with the desirable yet elusive rosette!

The art quilt part of the display was interesting and varied. I particularity liked ‘Yin Yang’ by Annette Valtl from Germany,  a quilt made of artist hand-dyed fabric in two mirror-image sections, one on a black background and one on a white background. It was fascinating to look at and well constructed (fore and aft!): her quilt won a Judges’ Choice prize.

'Yin Yang' by Annette Valtl

‘Yin Yang’ by Annette Valtl

There were also a number of guest collections. From the Dutch Quilters Guild that is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year came a display of the quilts out of their own collection, with quilts from 1770 up to 2013. It was fun to see quilts from the early ’70s all orange and brown and dubious fabric choices! Then a period of small calicoes and finally quilts in all the variety that exists today.

There were a number of exhibits by various international quilt artists, but the part of the show I enjoyed the most was the super display put on by the Norsk Quilterforbund, the Norwegian Quilters Guild. The work was very varied and of a very high standard. The ladies from the Guild hosted a table by the exhibit and were very friendly and helpful.

The table of the Norsk Quilterforbund, next to their exhibit.

The table of the Norsk Quilterforbund, next to their exhibit.

I particularly liked Eli Tjetlano’s ‘Storm and extreme weather’ which was in the shape of a ram: in Norwegian the word for weather and for ram are the same (much as the similarity between the English weather and wether), so she made her storm-themed quilt in the form of a ram.

Storm & extreme weather by Eli Tjetlano

Storm & extreme weather by Eli Tjetlano

I also liked ‘Pingu’ by Magnhild Tautra: it made me smile.

'Pingu' by Magnhild Tautra

‘Pingu’ by Magnhild Tautra

But for me, the best quilt at the whole championship (and one to which my photo snapped with a phone does not do justice!) was The Black Dog by Solvi Krokeide. Made in a sort of tiling technique it was superbly construed and had a very subtle use of colour, embellishment and quilting: as well as a play on words: The Black Dog could be interpreted as the actual black dog on the quilt, or as the black dog of depression, symbolised by the fact that the figure is viewing the world as greyed (the subtle grey circle in the centre is his viewpoint or bubble) despite the dazzling colour an beauty of the landscape.  

'The Black Dog' by Solvi Krokeide

‘The Black Dog’ by Solvi Krokeide

After a break for lunch I hit the vendors’ booth at the championship. I road tested a couple of long-arm quilting machines (an Innova and a Handi Quilter, I liked the latter better, it moved more smoothly and had a less industrial finish which I found attractive). Something for the wish list I think! I also bought some fabric made of lovely shot cottons from Oakshott in England and some nice Japanese fabrics to replenish my stash.

Oakshott cottons

Oakshott cottons

My new trolley held up well and was ideal: all my goodies and a bottle of water and several brochures fitted in easily and I didn’t have to lug it all about! By the end of the day his little wheels were squeaking, but nothing that a spot of sewing machine oil can’t cure. Tired but inspired we headed for home!

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