As a novice quiltmaker, it never occurred to me to be attentive to a quilt block's design potential or its overall visual beauty. Instead, I was totally engrossed with the technical application of constructing the quilt. As I gained more experience, I became aware that not all traditional designs produced lovely results. I also realized my quilts' visual results were uneven---and often not what I really envisioned. As my work developed, my quest for learning how to create beautiful quilts increased. I no longer wanted to spend time, money, and energy making quilts of dubious visual success. So I became interested in the visual qualities of my work---the aspects of design. With some natural hesitation, I began experimenting with design, so that I could strengthen this weak link in my artistic development As with studying color, my favorite mentor became nature. I found examples of beautiful design practices exhibited in my natural surroundings and I began using these in my work. I have combined these design ideas and findings in The Visual Dance---Creating Spectacular Quilts, so that others can learn from my experiences and research. Additionally, this book addresses many design problems that occur frequently in quilts---with possible solutions. Quilts with particular design problems are discussed. Besides design suggestions, fabric selection, border application, and innovative quilting are addressed. The Visual Dance---Creating Spectacular Quilts contains full-color throughout, 138 color plates of unique and spectacular quilts, 41 instructional color plates, 31 hand-drawn illustrations, 70 other illustrations, 11 new traditional quilt-block designs, and 39 activities and extended learn projects.
BOOK REVIEWS for THE VISUAL DANCE---Creating Spectacular Quilts
1. Reviewed by Joanne Fisher, quiltmaker, as seen in the QUARTERLY REVIEW of COSTUME, CLOTHING & ETHNIC TEXTILE BOOKS , Volume 1 #1, Winter 1996
For those who have yet to decide whether quilts are craft or art, Joen Wolfrom’s book, The Visual Dance, will certainly tip the scales heavily on the side of art. This lavishly illustrated book will surely provoke comments like “Wow!” and “Gorgeous!”, and others will say “How’d she do that?! And “What a great idea!”
Visually exciting and truly spectacular quilts are shown at each turn of the page. This is not a “how-to” book, there are no patterns for those art quilts. It’s more of an invitation to explore. Joen inspires, not only with examples of quilts, but also with words. Her writing skills are on an equal ground with an obviously strong background in fine art. Her own outdoor scenes and botanical photographs are an important part of her quilting philosophy. She invites and encourages people who love to quilt to jump with her into the world of color and original design. Using traditional quilting techniques such as piecing, appliqué, and trapunto in the creation of individual pieces of art, Joen claims that all one need do is to look at those things we love with new vision. A mountain stream, the shoreline, a forested grove, even a photograph of a favorite vacation can be translated into a fiber treasure. Joen has selected examples to illustrate her book from amongst the finest contemporary quilters including Erika Odemer from Germany (whose dazzling quilt is on the cover), American quilt designer and author Jean Ray Laury, and Junko Sawada of Japan. If one could have but a dozen quilt books in their library, this book would be an important one to choose.
2. As seen in DOWN UNDER QUILTS, Autumn 1996 (Australia)
A great number of very talented artists and craftsmen have given their support to Joen to produce a very special book of the exploration of visual perfection. Trying to explore the complex 9deas that reveal the delights of creating innovative and original quilts has been a mammoth task, but Joen has tackled it with great confidence and wonderful results. The task that she set herself was so large that the manuscript proved to be too challenging for one book. With great good fortune we can look forward to a sequel to this erudite effort, for it is now to be published in two parts.
The work illustrated is just beautiful and has been extremely sensitively and extensively analysed in order to help us work our own way through this superb learning experience. Joen’s meticulous and inspiring work in her previous books, “Landscapes & Illusions” and “The Magical Effects of Colour” have delighted us all in the past. To the serious student of quilt design, this new book is a challenging stimulus to the intellectual process. This is one of the most significant books we have seen for some years. It is the most interesting book of 1995. Joen gives the impression of being such a quiet, tranquil unassuming sort of person, the one that you would delight to have as a friend. Her books give you the feeling that you are really lucky to have found them for your collection. They are the sort of books that you delight to dip into constantly and find an additional inspiration every time.
3. Reviewed by Lauren Mukamal-Camp in QUILTER'S NEWSLETTER MAGAZINE, April 1996
This book is a visual masterpiece. It nearly overwhelms the reader in page after page of compelling quilts. Showcasing the art of the masters is not enough, however. Joen is determined to help us to that level---from beginner to most experienced.
The reader is guided to her own personal style through solid design principles rather than a strict set of rules. Entire chapters are devoted to the basic elements of design: line shape, direction, color, and value. Then they’re illustrated with 138 breathtaking quilts from artists around the world. These quilts, and Joen’s discussions of design choice, fabric selection, and quilting style, provide the foundation and incentive you’ll need to piece a visually beautiful, technically masterful quilt of your own design.
4. Reviewed by Melisse Laing in her column Stitches And Stuff in
THE DAILY NEWS, November 29, 1995 (Longview, Washington)
Joen, a well-known teacher and quilter from Fox Island, Wash., uses her own observation and experiences – and photographic records—to show you nature’s design secrets. Joen solves the mysteries of design in a simple, positive manner that opens the way to creating and designing beautiful, original quilts. The book is well organized and clearly written, plus it features more than 138 color photographs of traditional and contemporary quilts. This is a learning book but also a book to enjoy.
The book’s only flaw is its design. You must constantly flip back and forth to study the examples Joen cites. But if you take the information to hear, you will have the foundations for an extraordinary quilt.