A Grand Juxtaposition

I spent a few days last week teaching at QuiltNebraska, an annual summer event. While I was there, I had an interesting experience. It was at first perplexing, then thought provoking. I’m not sure how to write about it, but I’d like to try.

 A Grand Juxtaposition


There are always lots of quilting teachers at this event. They’re divided into two groups. The first group is well-known national teachers, folks you’ve probably heard of. The other group is Nebraska teachers; that’s where I fit in.

All Drezzed Up D Harris sized A Grand Juxtaposition

All Drezzed Up by Diane Harris appeared in Quiltmaker March/April '10.

All the teachers were asked to bring a quilt they’d made, to be hung in an exhibit of teachers’ quilts. I took All Drezzed Up, a quilt I designed that appeared in Quiltmaker a few years back. It’s a quilt I’m fond of.

11411 pattern img A Grand Juxtaposition

All Drezzed Up by Diane Harris appeared in Quiltmaker March/April '10.


It’s happy and fun and original (at least as original as a traditional block can be). It’s a quilt in which I have some pride.


20070428sharon A Grand Juxtaposition

Sharon Schamber

Now pause for a moment and think of a prize-winning quilter you may know about: Sharon Schamber. Sharon was one of the national teachers at this event.


The Spirit of Mother Earth full web%5B4%5D A Grand Juxtaposition

The Spirit of Mother Earth is one of many prize-winning quilts Sharon Schamber has created.


It’s no stretch, in my opinion, to say that Sharon is one of a handful of quilters worldwide whose work is utterly astonishing. Exquisite. Breathtaking.


fall quilt market pics 073 A Grand Juxtaposition


If you’ve ever seen one of her quilts, many of which have won big prizes in big shows, you’ve probably stood there in awe, as I have. So much planning, detail and execution. Jaw-dropping stuff.



SchamberSharon CrimsonPromises MAInnovativeArtistry1 A Grand Juxtaposition

Detail of Sharon Schamber's Crimson Promises


So you can imagine my—what’s the word? shock? amusement? humiliation?—a little of all three—when I came around a corner in the teachers’ quilt display and saw All Drezzed Up hanging next to Sharon Schamber’s “Crimson Promises” masterpiece.



sharon3 copy A Grand Juxtaposition

Crimson Promises and All Drezzed Up

My reaction is hard to describe. I know I was amused. I’m just a regular quilter who loves to write and is lucky enough to have a job in the industry. I make regular quilts. I am not Sharon Schamber.

Seeing All Drezzed Up hanging there, looking so very humble, so very ordinary, I actually felt sorry for her (the quilt, not Sharon).

A couple of people asked me if I was hurt by the way the quilts were displayed. The answer was absolutely not! While I don’t pretend to play in the Big Leagues, it was kind of cool to have my baby in such good company. What are the odds?!

And in the end I came to this conclusion: Sharon’s “Crimson Promises” is inspiring because of its grandeur. But perhaps All Drezzed Up is inspiring too, because it’s a quilt anyone could make. And there’s something to be said for that.

*     *     *     *     *

I’d like to know: How would you feel if your quilt was hung next to a masterpiece? Please tell us in the comments below.

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
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16 Responses to A Grand Juxtaposition

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  3. Mary Sullivan says:

    I would love to see the block party anywhere in CT. All that fun and we missed it all here. Thanks and keep up the good work. Mary – msully24@sbcglobal.net

  4. Barb J says:

    Well, first of all, none of my quilts would ever be hung anywhere, except maybe on my cubicle wall! ;-> But when I go to quilt shows, I never compare one quilt to another. Each one is viewed and enjoyed as if there were no others around it. So where your quilt is hung doesn’t matter; people will look at it and marvel at the creative way you used fabric and placement to put together a unique work of art. Because all quilts are works of art, no matter if they are “art quilts” or not.

  5. SuzK says:

    There are so many types of quilts now that to say one is better than another is probably not accurate. Without a doubt, Sharon’s quilts are totally amazing, but I think they fall into the catagory of “oh my heavens, look at the beautiful work” – which is important because it helps to inspire us in our own work. Your quilt falls into the “what a great quilt – love those dresden plates and the colors – hey, we should make one of those” which also inspires. As others mentioned, I love Sharon’s quilt, but I know that it’s not something I could ever make for any number of reasons. Your quilt is one that reaches my soul because it touches the creative spark in me – I can make a dresden plate, those colors are wonderful, I love that layout – my mind is now off in a number of wonderful creative adventures that will probably result in a new quilt. Both amazing quilts, both inspiring … in their own way.

  6. Terri in BC says:

    I think I would consider it a compliment that my quilt would be good enough to be shown next to a show-stopper – you know they aren’t going to put an “ugly” one there!

  7. MarciaW says:

    I would be surprised and happy that it was “good enough”, albeit not perfect, to be hung anywhere.

  8. Denise Cheke says:

    Hi! I am in awe of both of those quilts and if one of my humble creations was even in the same room as a ‘jaw dropping’ masterpiece like each of those are…I would be incredibly shy and amazingly honored. I have only been quilting for two years and I still get excited when my seams match up! I have so many things to learn but I think I have already learned the most important lesson which is: quilt because you love it and be proud of whatever you create. (and try to give your quilts to someone who will love them as much as you do) Thanks for sharing.

  9. Mary Jo Jones says:

    As much as I admire the “masterpieces”, my heart is drawn to traditional quilts. I am so glad that there are quilts for all of our tastes. Maybe…she was humbled by yours???

  10. I think I would feel honored and elated.

  11. JanetB says:

    In the ’80s, all women in Corporate America went through “dress for success.” I remember one seminar where a lady said you dress for the position you want to be in and one there, you can dress however you please. I think quilts are that way… you dress in a way that pleases you. Some people dress in showy, sparkly quilts that are meant to hang on a wall. I agree with Bonnie in that my quilts are meant to be loved and hugged. I love All Drezzed Up. It is the kind of quilt I aspire to make.

  12. Kris says:

    From your photo, All Drezzed Up holds it own with Sharon’s lovely quilt. A lovely Dresden plate quilt always has a place in a show and elicits its own set of “wow’s.” When I go to Paducah, the art quilts are awesome, but after the first 50-100, I start looking for a quilt that I might make someday.

  13. I would HOPE I would feel like you and Bonnie Hunter feel–you are both classy dames.

  14. duff says:

    I think I’d feel small and insecure about my work at first, but then feel honored that my work was chosen to stand next to a quilt I find “jaw dropping.” As the saying goes “we are our own worst critic,” and I believe that is true. As a teacher, I see each student’s strengths, not weaknesses, and do not compare students against one another. Looking at the two quilts together, my eye does not pass by either one–my eye travels around each, stopping to focus on a detail that gives me pause. Each has its own strengths (and I’ll leave the ‘needs’ finding up to the artist!)

  15. correction — my quilt hung near Sue Spargo’s quilt — not Sue Nickels…it’s early am as I write this!

  16. I saw your quilt up close and personal for the first time last night in Williamsburg. Let me say that pictures do NOT do it justice! It’s a wonderful mix of the “then” (the 20 plates for 20 bucks that you found) and the now (the wonderful way you put them together that is so YOU!!

    I’ve been humbled recently too, when one of my scrappy messes hung near Sue Nickel’s beautiful wooly-beady-applique beauties and I felt like an imposter to that show ;c)

    But the most important thing is we do what we love from the heart. While quilts of grandeur are gorgeous to look at, I make my quilts to be loved and used and slept under, or on top of by pets, and they are intended to go through the washer and the dryer —it’s a different kind of quilt, one I hope my family will remember long after the quilt is in shreds from much use. That’s where the memories are made for me —

    We all quilt for different reasons. Some quilt from the head, with their sole intention to please the judges and knock viewers socks off. The rest of us? We quilt from the heart thinking of covering those around us with the comfort of our quilts.

    And they are all beautiful —just different!


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