Fiesta – A Happy Art Quilt

The art quilt "Fiesta" basted to bead & quilt

The art quilt “Fiesta” basted to bead & quilt

Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

How I remember those frantic days of September, 2014 as I was packing up my studio in Maryland getting ready to move to North Carolina. I had no idea how long it would take to sell my house; there weren’t a lot of walk-throughs. Not knowing when I would  see my supplies again, I cut out 3 art quilts to last for the unknown duration. I sewed the big buttons, beads, appliques and ribbons at night while the days were frantically spent supervising treasures going into storage boxes, or being donated. “Fiesta”, the piece you see on the left, was one of the three, and its bright sunny disposition made me smile through all of those frantic days as my studio of 30 years disappeared from sight. Would the buttons and beads that were disappearing into boxes ever reappear at the other end of the move?

Detail of art quilt "Fiesta" basted togethe

Detail of art quilt “Fiesta” basted together

I had been collecting the fabrics and ribbons for this quilt for awhile. Usually, materials that were being auditioned for a new art quilt would pile up in my studio for awhile until they reached a critical mass and then fall over onto the floor. This time, there was the urgency of having to cut out and baste 3 quilts quickly, so I grabbed this pile of fabrics that had been waiting for awhile. Going across the upper left hand corner is an orange and aqua woven ribbon that is quite striking. I of course had great good fun in playing with aqua buttons and crow beads sewn in lines around it. There are also multi-colored ribbons that cross across the center of this photo and an orange ribbon with yellow polka dots in the lower right. The yellow and while stripes are from a fabric that I cut in rectangles to help suggest awnings in my imaginary town square.

Another detail of the art quilt "Fiesta"

Another detail of the art quilt “Fiesta”

This shot is taken a little farther back and you can see some of the circles that suggest balloons? pinwheels? fireworks? After all, it’s a fiesta, so there are lots of possibilities for noise and sparkles. I often use circular shapes in fabrics and lace to repeat the round shapes of the buttons. While I will use other shapes in buttons, I like round ones the best. I find that other shapes are often hard to get to stay seated where I want them to be. The background fabric is a gold with a darker gold swirl on it that ties the whole composition together (more about it in the next posting). Now that I’m looking at this photo, I’m noticing how much the white lace circles (ones with the holes in them) and the white circles in the magenta pinwheels compete with each other. I’m wondering if there’s too much white. As I write this, the quilt is much farther along, but I’ll have to go and look to see how they turn out once they’re beaded. Oh, to learn to see the way the camera does!

What images do you find that you repeat over and over in your work? Do they have a particular meaning, or do they just “wander on in”?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.


  1. Steph Yates says:

    I love the orange and saffron yellows in this. Can’t wait to see it all beaded up. I used a similar background colour in a piece I called ‘joy’ which is on my blog Haven’t reached your standard yet but I’m working on it. Thanks for all your inspiration.

  2. Thanks so much, Steph. I went to your blog and saw that you two share in the joy of those little tiny pieces of glass… seductive aren’t they? I tried to leave a comment using my Google account, about how good you’ll feel when it’s all of its glory and shine, but your site didn’t seem to let me leave the comment…:(

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