By Sonia Isotov
From a distance, an art quilt looks like a painting, but up close, one can see how nationally-recognized quilt artist Joanne Baeth has delicately hand-stitched the threadwork and combined it with machine stitching and inking to bring to life the natural beauty she sees around her. No easy feat.
A typical art quilt will take Baeth 9 to 12 months to complete and is truly a work of love. “I love the entire creative process. It’s good for my soul!!”, says Baeth.
In the last 15 years, Baeth has completed over 20 art quilts featuring the landscape and birds of the Klamath Basin. Baeth has a background in art and quilting and brought the two together after retiring from teaching. Living in rural southeastern Oregon, a place known to be the largest migration route in the Pacific Northwest, has been a big inspiration for her work.
“My husband and I are in the outdoors often which gives me the opportunity to observe wildlife in settings that are different with each season.” She enjoys photographing and drawing the birds, animals and landscape of the wetlands and wildlife refuges around her.
Art quilting involves using fabric as art and exploring a concept or idea rather than a “pattern”.
Baeth says, “Fabric and threads are my art medium. Fabric can be painted, highlighted, and shaded with inks and pastels, dyed with procion dyes, and manipulated. I use cottons, silks, rayon fabrics as well as natural fibers. Threads are my paintbrush, and in the quilting process, I use them to blend colors as well as shade and highlight.”
A Time to Dance was started in 2019 and finished in the summer of 2020. Baeth worked on this quilt during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her focus on large and small circles represented renewal in her mind, and three Sandhill Cranes dancing out of the flames became her “hope for the future when we have conquered this disease.” The fabric was hand-dyed to construct the cranes and cut out each feather one at a time.”
Baeth enjoys doing special exhibits and has entered national and international quilt shows all over the United States. She has also won numerous awards, but the one she is most proud of was with a piece entitled “Majestic Flight”. It was purchased by the American Quilt Society and is now a permanent resident of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. The piece features three large Great Blue Herons for which she painted, inked, cut out, and fused one feather at a time.
“I try to reflect the natural colors present in nature as animals blend into their surroundings. My goal is to create art quilts that resemble oil or watercolor paintings. Using dyes, inks, paints, threads, and different fabrics to achieve this goal is an artistic challenge I enjoy.”
Joanne Baeth Quilts