Monday, October 17, 2011

Small Studies with Gwen Marston

The week before last I went to Gwen Marston's Beaver Island Quilt Retreat (week 5).   Each year Gwen generously shares her skills over a five week period,  each week working with about 30 quilters, many of whom return yearly for their "Gwen fix".  This year the topic was small studies.  It focused on  practicing techniques for make various elements and subsequently using those elements to design small quilts, or sketches as Gwen called them.  Gwen recently published a lovely book, 37 Sketches,  showing her small quilts and the thought process behind their creation.

During the retreat, we played with color and sewed skinny curves, spikes, free pieced log cabins, overlapping curved strata, inserts of tiny specks of color, checkerboards etc.  We learned not to be afraid of using little pieces of fabric and to let ourselves experiment with abstract designs. We explored colors we don't often use in quilt making.  We were challenged to think out of the box.

I had a wonderful time exploring and trying new things. I made the following small quilts:

Color Study:  Blue and Green
Color Study:  Brown

 Trees and the shore - made with spikes

I made one more piece, but it isn't quite finished, so I'll save it for another day

Liberated quilts have always been favorites of mine and Gwen, through her many books, and now through the retreats has been very influential.  Thank you, Gwen.
Happy quilting,


  1. I love your quilts from your retreat with Gwen! What a lucky gal you are. I got to go to one of her retreats, maybe 4 years ago. I'd go every year if I could.

  2. Hi Kathy, nice to meet you!

    I have a question you may or may not be able to answer. Does Gwen share some of the tips or techniques she taught in the workshop in her Sketches book? I am unable to attend classes in person but would be interested in getting some of her insights. (I have nearly all of her books already.)

  3. wow, so wonderful. your quilts are great, and whee, what a fantastic opportunity. woohoo!


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