Fiber Art Almanac: Essays from the American Midwest

The Quilt Maker’s Story

It’s time to get back to writing and picture taking and sharing what I love best about textiles and fiber art in the American Midwest. I’ve heard so many stories from you; how much you like opening the Almanac to read about people who love what they make; inspiring you to stretch beyond what you think you can do.

It’s about dreaming of that time when you are in the moment, all other thoughts banished behind the movement of your hands. Making.

This new concept of the Fiber Art Almanac is timely but doesn’t keep track of time. Its presentation is both virtual and real. Every six months there will be a new online exhibit featuring a different topic. Each exhibit will be presented online for a year and the collectible print books can be ordered anytime. The online exhibit is a gallery; giving viewers a vivid, colorful view of Midwestern textiles and fiber. The print book is filled with vibrant images and essays about the people, artist biographies and our Midwestern textile landscape.

Why quilts for this first exhibit and book? Quilts are iconic in American textiles and deeply embedded in the pioneer history of the Midwest. As with many textile stories, the maker started young usually at the knee of their grandmother, maybe because the grandmother had more available time.



There’s a personal connection for selecting quilts as the first exhibit topic.

Recently I was searching through historical archives from a small town in the center of Iowa. My great Aunt Isabel (Dyer) and Uncle Austin Dowell lived there for years after they retired and donated their mid-1800s Victorian home to the Nevada Historical Society. There is a plaque on the brick wall inside the front porch with a listing of all the Dyer family relatives who lived in Nevada beginning in 1855. My parents were big believers in visiting relatives (old and young) so as a young girl I attended several long, formal dinners for which Aunt Isabel laid the table with incredibly beautiful Meissen china. As I recall each plate had a different bird on it and the story goes that the china was purchased on one of their agricultural tours in Europe after the war.

The reason I’m even bringing this up is that one of our boys is getting married this coming summer and their wedding will take place in Ames, Iowa on the campus at the university. Nevada is less than ten miles east of Ames. I’m looking for a venue for a groom’s dinner and the connection between the historic house, meals and the upcoming wedding was made. (At least in my mind.) So I started to do a little research and I came across an interesting story of my great-great Grandmother Hannah Kellogg.  As long as I’m this far down the path, I’ll mention to you that our oldest son’s middle name is Kellogg.

My great-great Grandmother was interviewed by Mrs. A. M. Payne in 1911 for a book on the history of the county. This is a first person account of her life when she and her husband came from Ohio. As the author says in such a captivating and elegant manner, “reasons characteristic of young people hoping to get on in the world, started them west when they had been married less than three years and after vicissitudes of a journey unusually trying they reached Nevada on the 17th of June, 1855.” It was an arduous journey, but indeed the little family made it to their new home on the prairie. Not long afterwards, they built a house but were shorted lumber, which apparently was typical for sawmills in those days so they didn’t have enough wood to complete the walls in the loft. They improvised with quilts! Fabric screens gave the family members a bit of privacy in the small space. I would love to see the quilts Hannah packed in her trunk! What was typical quilt making style in Ohio before the Civil War? The Amish were starting to make bold abstracts. Did the quilts include appliqué such as what was popular in Baltimore? I’ll probably never know, but Great-great Grandmother Hannah goes on to tell us that in August, just two short months after they staked their claim on the prairie, a cyclone leveled their house back into a pile of sticks.

Quilts have stories. They can be new stories or old stories about family, friends, a place or maybe even a pivotal time in our lives. About the making of the quilt, what the quilt taught us and the impressions quilts have left with us. The Quilt Maker’s Story.

The quilt top that is featured in this story is from my dad’s side of the family (which has its own complete story of pioneer life) and is very old. As all quilters know, the pattern is Grandmother’s Garden. Please consider sharing your quilt story.





Essays from the American Midwest: The Quilt Maker’s Story

The August, 2016 Fiber Art Almanac is a curated online exhibition of quilts from our great grandmother’s heritage quilts forward to contemporary quilt makers whose focus is on self expression with textiles.

Whether the quilt’s aesthetic is traditional, contemporary, modern, embellished, machine or hand stitched, whole cloth or pieced; there is a story. The quilt maker’s story.

Semi-annual presentation dates are August and April of a given year with the first in the series beginning August, 2016. A new online exhibition will be presented to Fiber Art Almanac and Midwest Fiber Arts Trails newsletter subscribers along with a collectible print book and ePublication available for purchase.

Call for entries opens December 1, 2015 with deadline for submissions March 15, 2016.


You may submit two entries. The non-refundable jury fee is $20 for both entries. All entries must include 3-5 high resolution, high quality large-sized JPG formatted images, application form, artist statement, quilt maker story with detailed information about each piece and jury fee. (See below for image and video details.)

Quilt Maker Story:

Quilt maker stories are written from both first person experiences and third person narratives. Quilt maker stories should be 300 words minimum with 1500 word maximum and must accompany application for submission. This may include your artist statement in relation the pieces you are submitting that are your own work. Wildwood Press is happy to assist with historic accounts, but will not write the story for you. Stories will be edited for spelling and punctuation.

Materials and technique:

Entries can include quilts that are created using any of the following techniques: fiber sculpture, sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning, dyeing, finished hand-dyed fibers and fabrics, needlework, beading, multi-media, surface design on fabric and art cloth. As long as it has a top, middle and back. Quilts can be old or new. If you have a question, please contact me.

Entry images and Shipping work for photography:

Each entry includes 3-5 high resolution images. Images must be in focus, clean and clear. Digital file specifications are .JPG files. File naming should be “lastname_firstname_1.jpg” Detail photos should be labeled as such: “lastname_firstname_1detail.jpg” Please email images to

If you are submitting video please edit the video to less than five minutes in length.  A link to a video is acceptable prior to acceptance. Once accepted, the video file needs to

If work is shipped to Wildwood Press for photography, all reasonable care will be taken for its safety, but insurance is the responsibility of the owner of the work. Return shipping is the responsibility of the owner of the work and must be provided by the owner in the form of prepaid shipping label. If work needs to be photographed, the owner will pay Wildwood Press $50 for photography. The owner may use the image when the online exhibit is taken down off the website.

Entry Notification:

Quilt makers granted acceptance will be notified by email the first week of April, 2016. The Fiber Art Almanac online exhibition is on-going series of work, so if the work isn’t accepted into one online exhibit, it may be accepted into future exhibits.


Submission of a work of art to this online exhibition shall be understood to constitute an agreement on the part of the artist to all the conditions set forth. This also grants Wildwood Press the rights to reproduce and distribute images through print and electronic media for promotion of the exhibition and entrants. Artists will retail all copyrights to their work.

Click here for detailed application information and how to apply.

Fiber Art Almanac Call for Entry postcard PDF