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Courtesy of Briana Gray
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Courtesy of Tula Pink
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Courtesy of Angela Walters
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Courtesy of Angela Walters
By Heather Grant
Missouri has deep roots in the history of quilting, from pioneer days to today’s pioneers in the modern quilting movement.
Angela Walters is one of these pioneer designers and has re-envisioned how quilters think about crafting modern quilts.
Angela, who lives in Kearney, started quilting ten years ago when her grandfather, a quilter, suggested she purchase a long-arm quilting machine. “Like most people, I was terrible at first, but Grandpa had more than twenty quilt tops for me to practice on,” she says. “Nine months later when I finished his quilts, I started quilting professionally. I found my artistic voice in quilting and couldn’t make my own tops fast enough.”
Quilt after quilt was different than anything Angela had ever seen before. The quilts were boldly colored and looked like they could fit into a house designed by Ray and Charles Eames, well-known modernist designers from St. Louis.
“When I attended that first meeting, modern quilting was so different from what I had seen, I wasn’t even sure if I liked it,” Angela says. “I didn’t realize there was an entire quilting movement going on online and that Kansas City was a major hub of a growing international modern quilting movement. As each person showed their quilts, I could not stop thinking of the different ways to quilt each quilt. It was so different than the traditional quilts I had done before. The design challenge was inspiring to me and made me look at the quilting design process from a new perspective.”
Modern quilters approach quilts in a different way. The design process is central to the quilt, and they use compositional elements, such as minimalism, asymmetry, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work, to bring quilts into the twenty-first century. Angela took the quilting techniques she learned in traditional quilting and started to apply it in a way that appealed to modern quilters.
One modern quilter took note of Angela’s talent. After Jacquie Gering, founder of The Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild, finished selecting fabric and piecing it together for a spider-web block quilt, she was ready to hire someone to quilt the top to the batting and backing. Jacquie had opinions, in spirations, and a strong idea of how she wanted it quilted by Angela.
“Working with Angela on the Tin Ceiling quilt was the first time I realized the importance of quilting as an additional design layer,” Jacquie says. “Angela taught me through that process of how to consider and combine both the piecing and my vision for the finished quilt to make decisions about the quilting. I think we both realized through that experience that the possibilities were only limited by our creativity and neither of us had to settle for what had been done before.”
For Angela, the experience was also enlightening.
“Jacquie’s quilt was a tremendous turning point for my artistic path; it was a revelation for me,” Angela says. “It made me focus my work on the design process.”
Today, she finds time to quilt when her three children are asleep, quilting late at night in her studio for many internationally renowned quilters, including fabric and quilt designer Tula Pink of Stewartsville, Missouri.
With her unique vision and approach to quilting design, Angela has gained international recognition and a following in the modern quilt world. And with two books, an online crafting class, and several quilts at the premier International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, Angela is bringing Missouri quilting to an international audience.
For more information on Angela Walters, head to www.quiltingismytherapy.com.
This story originally ran in the February 2013 issue of Missouri Life. For more stories like this, subscribe to Missouri Life.