One of the blogs we love to read is Exuberant Color by Wanda S. Hanson. The name sums it up: "exuberant" means "joyously unrestrained and enthusiastic". Regarding color, Wanda says: "I love color and am driven to create with it." There are plenty of eye-popping quilts at Exuberant Color, and more: the blog is like a romp through the design and quilting process, sprinkled with tips gleaned from Wanda's 55 years of experience (she has been quilting since 1957). It's no wonder that her site has racked up more than one million page views, and over 630,000 visitors from 179 countries!
Sparkling Stars, 2012, by Wanda S. Hanson at Exuberant Color
Sparkling Stars, above, is an example of Wanda Hanson's expert use of color and value, which makes the stars really sparkle. This stunning quilt was exhibited in a 2012 solo show at Ciel Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it was purchased by Lynne Tyler. We also just learned that more of Wanda's quilts will be exhibited at Ciel Gallery in February and March, 2013. Wanda selected part batik and part bright tone-on-tone prints in warm and cool hues for Sparkling Stars. Her favorite fabrics include Kaffe Fassett florals, and you'll even see African fabrics in some of her quilts. Regarding her black-and-white stash, Wanda says: "Of all of the black and white prints available I like the zebra stripes the best. Those who have been to my house know I have a "little zebra" in every room."
Crazy Patch Quilt, 1998, by Wanda S. Hanson (in the collection of Wanda Hanson)
Wanda's interest in art quilting began in 1985, when she took a 3-day workshop with Nancy Crow (you can read the story here). Wanda's quilts exhibit an improvisational style that was quite uncommon in those days. For example, the stunning quilt shown above is an example of crazy piecing with colorful, contemporary fabrics. Wanda explains: "Crazy piecing [is] something I have been doing since the early 1970’s. It didn’t get any respect made with cotton fabrics until it got renamed ‘wonky’ and ‘liberated’. I would try to share my passion for it with others in the 1970's and 1980's but the reaction was that… well… I was crazy, just like my crazy piecing... During the early 1990’s when it seemed the art quilt movement was gaining speed, it was accepted more as a free way of working and was adopted by the newly inspired, previously non-sewers as more fun than traditional blocks." For more examples check out Wanda's crazy pieced quilt gallery.
Crooked Cobblestones 2, 36.5" x 34", by Wanda S. Hanson at Exuberant Color
The quilt shown above was included in Wanda Hanson's 2012 solo show (as of this writing, this quilt is available for purchase at the Ciel Gallery website). She chose the name Cobblestones to refer to her original block design, which she has explored in a series of quilts; this is #2 in the series. The black-and-white print borders allow the colorful
blocks to "pop", and the use of an inner border of the same fabric as some
of the blocks makes it seem as if you are looking through windows in
the middle of the quilt.
Mini Colorwash Quilt by Wanda S Hanson at Exuberant Color
Wanda has been making colorwash quilts since 1990; you can see examples, and how her style has evolved, at her colorwash quilt gallery. Her first colorwash pieces were made with calico type fabrics, and from there she went to multicolor busy floral prints of a larger size. The mini quilt shown above is made with tiny scraps of batiks; most pieces are less than 1" across as described in this post. This piece was sold and is now in a private collection.
Skewed, approx. 39 x 44", by Wanda S. Hanson at Exuberant Color
"Skewed" is one of Wanda's recent finishes (January 2013). An intriguing combination of textures, colors, values and lines can be seen in this quilt, which is pieced with uneven width strips. This represents one of Wanda's signature styles, and a series of work, which can be seen at her gallery of quilts pieced with uneven width strips. About working in a series - which also is the subject of one of Wanda's classes - she says: "Working in series is a quest for the best one I can make." Here are more of Wanda's inspiring words of wisdom:
~The lines are not "perfect" because I am not a perfect person. I like things with their subtle imperfections that look they have been made by a human being. Actually I like wonky even better than that. ~Wanda S. Hanson, in : A Quilting Day
~I don't let the quilting police into my home and I will accept my abilities, such as they are. I have been doing free motion work for 48 years. I don't have to prove anything to anyone else. ~Wanda S. Hanson, in: Practicing your Free Motion Quilting
~For those of us that believe the fabrics and the piecing design are the most important part of our quilts, it is paralyzing to try to dive into the quilting of the layers that may 'ruin' our quilt. I know there are others out there that share my feelings; I read it on your blogs. All over quilting designs sometimes mush the piecing design and beautiful custom quilting takes over and that is all you see. I want my patchwork to be the star. I want the quilting to compliment but not take over. I like simple quilting the best. ~ Wanda S. Hanson, in: Binding and Quilting
~ I believe in saving time, since we can't buy any more of it. ~Wanda S. Hanson, in: What makes me tick?
Image credits: Images are shown with the generous permission of Wanda S. Hanson. In addition to her quilts that are represented by the Ciel Gallery, check out items for sale at her online shop: Wandaful Quilts. Last but not least, on the sidebar at Exuberant Color you can check out a video, "My Film Debut", in which Wanda presents her quilts (you'll be glad you did !)