Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Unconventional and Unexpected - American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000


''Some experiences leave a permanent mark in your brain, they change the way you think and process, they remind you of who you are and supposed to be..Going through the pages of your book has confirmed my values as far as this art is concerned. Thank you for collecting, writing and putting this book together. It will be forever in Shah family collection. Some day my budding artist/writer daughter will inherit it.''

Above was my reaction in an email to Roderick Kiracofe's within first 20 minutes of it's arrival at my doorstep.

I had been anticipating my shipment of ''Unconventional and Unexpected - American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000'' for so long, I did a happy dance when I saw the UPS truck stop at the front of my house.

Turning to the first page itself was an emotional experience. I froze for a few minutes and then carried on to the next page. I was trying to hold back the crazy excitement and mad rush of wanting to go through the entire book to see all at once. Every quilt made me think of one or more elements of design.

Importance of contrast
 Does this make you wonder what the back of the quilt looks like?

Mix of hard and soft lines
Can you see the movement?

Texture within texture

How about here?

 Doesn't this make all you wonder about the definition of modern design? The concept of making do was just a way of living.

Why figure 8? Seems like a form of expression but what? Did she leave a label on the back with an explanation?

Am I the only one who sees a nose and an eye of a puppy here?

How about this chest of drawers? Doesn't that remind you of some furniture in some Asian import store?

Totally unexpected, right? 

Every page screams HAPPY. Yes, that's with all caps! It's like one big celebration between cover to cover. it is filled with pictures of the quilts' front and back, essays written by quilt designers, authors and educators in the field.  I could keep posting pictures of the quilts from the book and talk about it for next few posts but there is nothing like actually holding the book in your hands. I had seen many images on various blog posts and fb groups but nothing is as satisfying as having it in my library.

Here is the link to Amazon to purchase the book. Make sure you click on the reviews by customers and read what others are thinking too. I hope you already have the book. If not, it's on its way. If you like unexpected results, thinking outside the box and surprises that come along the way of improvisational quilting, this is the book for you.

Let me know what you think.



  1. Great review Sujata! You're right, it screams HAPPY!

  2. Sujata Shah:

    I heartily agree with your enthusiam over Roderick's new book. Its undescribeable....and so inspiring. Received my personal copy on Friday and finished reading and devouring it by Sunday morning of the same weekend. Just could not stop until I reached the end. LOVE,LOVE, LOVED the discussion thread provided by all the essay contributors as a whole and came away with a more complete view and understanding of the topic and field of M-provisational quilting. Yes!....I too could visualize new and exciting designs in my creative imagination as I devoured the movements, colors and design possibilities featured before me by all the wonderful quilt compositions.

    And YES!!! anyone wanting to be inspired to create M-PROVISATIONALLY ....cannot and should not be without their own personal copy of Unconventional and Unexpected - American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000

  3. Love the book, happy to be included in it. :)

  4. Great review - my copy has just arrived. SO looking forward to spending time with it . . .

  5. I love your review and it just makes me wish my copy would arrive ASAP, it seems I preordered my book an eternity ago, oh well I know it will be worth the wait when it arrives.

  6. I've read quite a bit about this book. I find the premise so interesting and I think it's probably critical reading for anyone who is quilting right now. It's going on my list for sure . . .

  7. Sujata, this is lovely! I will definitely get this book! Thanks for sharing your thought. These kind of quilts have started me quilting. Hugs Nat

  8. I have been enjoying it with my morning coffee for the
    last two days. I am in awe of every quilt! And the essays so interesting too.

  9. Love the look of this book after reading your post. It's going on my birthday list!

  10. Great review. On my list now to purchase. Thank you for sharing the HAPPY!

  11. Just to follow up -- I LOVE THE BOOK (now that I've had a chance to read it cover to cover). SO well done on every level --

  12. W hat an exciting collection! I think the '8' could be the symbol for infinity, everlasting, endless possibilities. Those concepts seem to apply themselves to quilting, quilts and the feelings that often accompany them.

  13. Thanks for the great review! Now it's on my list of books to buy.:) Just saving the money!

  14. LOL I saw the puppy! My mother saw faces in everything! I guess that is just what stands out to me as well!

  15. This book is my current obsession. Inexplicably, I felt quite emotional reading it. It is beautiful in every way and definitely a treasure to be inherited...

  16. Your enthusiasm for this book puts a huge smile on my face. I'm looking forward to seeing it.


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