The art quilt has been born, and is evolving as quickly as artists can locate and experiment with new materials. Their world is peppered with phrases such as rust dyeing, sunprinting and burned-edge applique. Yes, quilt layers can still be stitched or tied together, but they can also be fused or stapled or buttoned. Instead of fabric, an artist might use newspapers, paper bags or even upcycled metal beverage cans or plastic soda bottles. Fabrics are just as likely to be painted or distressed as they are to be dyed.

A burgeoning world of new fibers, textiles and techniques is available for experimentation, and a number of BBEST artisans are leading the way in this exploration. Marion Barnett of artmixter, for example, writes about a textile called Lutradur in her e-book called “Lovely Lutradur,” available both in her Etsy shop and through her blog.

Rust as an artistic medium is explored by Liz Plummer. In her Dilapidation wall hanging, for example, she describes the “rusted silk habutai fabric which was originally hidden underneath linen squares, stitched in a grid pattern which was then cut back to reveal the rusty fabric underneath.”

Gunnel Svensson has mounted her art quilt on a wood gallery frame. It consists of handpainted fabric, with a thick carpet of embroidery fibers.

Finally, Margaret of libertybelle melds together fabric, embroidery, buttons, and a photo transfer on Lutradur to create a fabric post card.

Today’s quilts are not just for comfort, color or home decor. If you are interested in learning more about any of the techniques these BBEST artists use to create their version of a quilt, you may wish to read Fabric Art Workshop: Exploring Techniques & Materials for Fabric Artists & Quilters, by Susan Stein.

© 2008 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at

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