How do you make a "good" quilt great? How do you move from producing quilts that are "so-so" to quilts that are dynamic, that incorporate originality, sparkle with color, draw your eye with movement, and intrigue the viewer? Once you have mastered precision piecing and other aspects of technical excellence how can you move your quilting to the next level?
Joen Wolfrom is a prolific writer and designer who has produced multiple books on quilting and color that seek to answer these kinds of questions. She also owns her own pattern company (JWD Designs) and some of the quilts in the book by such notables as Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson are available as patterns from it. This book offers a beautiful presentation of 153 quilts, both geometric and representational. The representational quilts cover a wide range of styles--impressionist, surrealist, realistic, abstract, contemporary and traditional, large and small. The geometric quilts will put to rest any notion that more traditional patchwork and piecing is necessarily boring or outdated.
The quilts are accompanied by text that explains some of the design principles used in each creation. Along with this is an explanation of how to work to increase the beauty and success of any design using the principles that can be observed in nature. She has developed separate chapters on each of the design elements (line, direction, shape or form, color, value, texture, proportion and scale) There is also a chapter on designing blocks. Activities and exercises are presented at the end of each chapter. These exercises assume that you have a body of work (quilts or photo images, for example) available for examination or experimentation, or that you have the time and equipment to create them. The design exercises are at quite a high level without the kind of detailed instruction that results in a predesigned product; much of the interpretation of the results to up you.
I own two other books by the author, Color Play: Easy Steps to Imaginative Color in Quiltsand Visual Dance: Creating Spectacular Quilts. While those books are very good and quite helpful, this one is much better because she draws fully on the works of artists in addition to herself. If professional arts and craft training is not an option, this book (and others like it) are an alternative if you can work independently. For quilters who have spent years perfecting their technical and construction skills, this book will be a breath of fresh air because it combines design principles and technical excellence. Recommended for quilters with intermediate or advanced skills who are ready to push their work to the next level, or for the beginner who is looking for inspiration.