Indigo Exultations, or, The Best Quilt Ever?

For the last few years (as in “ten or twenty”), one of the standout reasons to go to the Fair each year is to see the quilts.

Each year, each Fair, we are blessed to be able to see these incredible works of art.


So many quilts.


The Exhibit Hall is a huge space, with high wooden beams which are situated perfectly for hanging quilts.


Above the crowds, these fabric gems hang.


Quilters appreciate the way the work is displayed. The works are fully visible, yet unreachable by adoring hands.


When I was young, quilting was just something that people did. Nowadays quilting has gone from being a domestic necessity to being an art form which attracts and holds people of extraordinary talent and skill.

Quilters are no longer limited to castoff clothes, feed bags, or what they could scrounge. The wealth of our material age allows incredible choices at the fabric store. Or the dump, because people still love to scrounge, and you can’t beat the price at landfill recycle sheds like “Dot’s Boutique” or the “Pick of the Litter”.


Many modern quilters are happy to adapt the design vocabulary of the past.

How can you not adore such warm rhythms of design?

Really good quilts are tours-de-force of application and of intelligence.


Making quilts can satisfy the caring, the compulsive, the creative…


Color, color, color.

Colorists seem especially attracted to quilting.


How do you judge which quilt gets ignored and which quilt gets a ribbon?  Judging so depends on the experience and personal taste of judges. Judging itself is an inconsistent art.

I had a favorite quilt at the fair.

It was made by Pamela Flam.

It is monochromatic.

It only won an honorable mention.

But I love this work.

The influences in this piece run wide and deep, from  the simple pioneer crisscross of an American log cabin quilt to the utter simplicity of a zen brush stroke circle. The cloth is exquisite shibori indigo dye work, a Japanese technique which goes aback to the eighth century.

Precision and asymmetries combine and exult in that focused circle of indigo.


For me, this is the quilt that made the Fair.

6 responses to “Indigo Exultations, or, The Best Quilt Ever?

  1. I agree completely! This one made me stand still and say, “Oh, my!”. I don’t know it it was the rougher touch (linen) that stopped the judges. But all the fabric was hand dyed indigo with a traditional Japanese resist technique used for the center piece. I say this with all due respect to my dear quilter friends, but this was a meisterstruck!

  2. Tom, do you know Pam Flam, she is the quilter who created that tour de force. She is also a force at Featherstone and is the mama of Arno Ewing(my nephew)’s beloved Molly Flam. Molly was a flower girl with me back in the old days, I think she started when she was 14 and she has since run her own flower fields and now has a beautiful son Jamie Ewing. Great folks who have just been on the islands about 10 years year round, and were summer people forever.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. thank you for including 2 of my quilts in your blog post. The Preppy Pod King Coverlet (#6) I made from my recycled mini skirts worn while working at Lilly in Edgartown from 1970-80. And the most complicated pattern I ever attempted; Amish with a Twist II (#8), a Nancy Rink Design quilt…..and I have just noticed a mistake I made and it is driving me crazy!

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s a gift to be able to have the makers’ names available. The tags on the quilts are so high they can’t be read easily. It’s unlikely that anyone will every notice your “mistake”. While the eye may love symmetry and perfection, it’s also true ath at imperfections the eye lingers, and that can slow down a person long enough to make them appreciate a piece all the more.

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