Judith Larzelere

 
Celebration, hand-dyed fabrics, 94 x 89in, formerly in collection Fidelity Bank, Boston MA/ currently permanent collection New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, MA- completed 1995Essex County, April--exhibited Japan 1992, Denmark 1992; donated by private collector to American Craft Museum 1992 in permanent collectionJappa Sunrise, hand-dyed fabrics, 90 x 112in, collection Federal Reserve Band, Philadelphia, PA- completed 1987Full Spectrum, hand-dyed fabrics, 58 x 58in, originally commissioned for P&B Textiles/ currently permanent collection San Jose Quilt Museum, San Jose, CA- completed 1993
Cherry/Green, hand dyed cotton/machine striped quilted-hand finished, 30 x 30inChips of Fire, hand dyed silk-hand finished, 3-part, each 32 x 19inDiptych-Lavender/Yellow, hand dyed cotton/machine striped quilted-hand finished, 2-part, each 26 x 22inFalling Stars (detail), hand dyed cotton/machine striped quilted-hand finished
Falling Stars, hand dyed cotton/machine striped quilted-hand finishedI (Heart) Summer, hand dyed fabrics, 67 x 68in- completed 2008
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My experience with needle and thread began when I started an embroidered sampler at the age of seven. I learned to knit from my fifth grade teacher and I still make a sweater or two each year. Sewing and thinking about fabric have always been pleasurable to me, and it seemed very natural to turn to this skill for a career. I was trained as a painter at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. There I learned to develop my love of color. Since 1978 I have been making art quilts full-time.

My images are abstract and non-geometric and do not rely on a block/grid structure. I am seeking to recreate the apparent artlessness of nature’s organic forms. I am fascinated by the flicker of light on moving water, the shimmer of the Northern Lights, the drift of clouds, and the patterns of pebbles washed up on a beach. I am also drawn to structured patterns as in the photography of cells and crystals, to units of aggregated texture such as brick and stone walls, circuit diagrams, and building facades. I have studied Japanese design to see how it combines structure and natural forms.

In my quilts I feel that I am exploring the same problems and expressing the same inspirations as if I were a painter using oils or acrylics. Instead, I choose colored cloth as a medium because I like the collage aspect of designing with fabric; I like selecting from available color rather than mixing paints; and I love the tactile pleasure of handling cloth. Most recently I have been working on a series of quilts that rely on chance placement of colors. These quilts do not emphasize the form and structure of traditional design principles.

The technique that I use is machine strip piecing. I re-cut the pieced fabric and then machine quilt it in a process sometimes called “flip and sew quilting.” I do not make a separate top that is later quilted.

When I start designing, I make a scale drawing in black pencil that is rather like a skeleton showing the underlying structure in directional lines. Next I go to my fabrics to choose the colors I want to use. I also decide how large the quilt will be and calculate how much stripped fabric I will need to sew to complete the quilt. Then I decide on color placement and the direction of the stitching rows of the quilting. At this point, I draw on muslin a full-sized image of my design showing all the machine quilting lines. Next, I begin cutting strips of solid colored 100% cotton with a rotary cutter on a plastic cutting mat. I machine piece all the strips together, press the seams to one side, and then begin cutting straight across the stitching with a rotary cutter. This gives me long, pieced bands of cloth which I then sew down onto the muslin pattern that has been basted to a polyester batting and cotton cloth backing. After the assembly using the “flip and sew” quilting, the edges are squared up and trimmed. A binding showing 1/4” wide on the front edge is machine sewed around the top and hand hemmed on the back.

Although my images are planned and color choices are very deliberate, I work with a great deal of looseness as I begin to sew the quilt together. I can improve my original design and because of this flexibility I can discover unexpected visual events which may give me ideas to try out in the next piece.

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