Covered Bridge, quilt and photo by Deborah Alderman.
Deep Woods, quilt and photo by Deborah Alderman.
People come into their love of quilts and quilting by a variety of means. But the springboard for Deborah Alderman’s evolution into a full-fledged quilt artist may be one of the most curious. A tree fungus—namely the Artist’s Conk or “shelf mushroom”—was the starting point for what has become Deborah’s passion for creating what she calls “quilted landscapes with a Vermont theme.”
Back when her now-grown daughter was in Girl Scouts, Deborah accompanied the troop on a nature hike. It was there that she discovered the Artist’s Conk, and soon after, she began to etch scenes on the fungus’ pale surface. Over the next 14 years, she became so proficient at it that she sold more than 21,000 pieces of etched Artist’s Conk at craft shows throughout Vermont.
Despite her success, she began to feel limited by the lack of color in the fungus and wanted to transition to a medium that would allow her to explore color. Deborah describes it this way: “When it was time to make a change, I knew I wanted to express my art in a medium that would include lots of color. That is what drew me to the landscape quilt. It blends the skills I learned etching on the fungus with a new and exciting world of color. And what better place to find color than in Vermont? The autumn foliage, in particular, is so perfectly rendered through my technique. When the mountains, pastures, farms, and covered bridges combine with the autumn foliage, the results can be stunning.”
Deborah’s impressionistic pieces are all wallhanging size and combine a variety of techniques, such as raw-edge appliqué and fusion, along with all sorts of fabrics, including those she hand dyes herself to create the skies in her landscapes. She cuts her materials into tiny pieces sorted by color. When the scene is composed to her satisfaction, Deborah covers the pieces with tulle netting and machine quilts the whole.
Her quilted landscapes have gained much recognition, especially in her adopted state of Vermont (she originally hails from Southern California). Deborah’s work has been exhibited at the Vermont State House in Montpelier as well as the office of the Governor of Vermont.
“I had zero exposure to quilts growing up,” says Deborah, adding, “My college education was in the sciences and my work experience was with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Quilts and quilting may not have been in Deborah’s background, but then, neither was tree fungus! It just goes to show that an artist’s talent will express itself, regardless of the chosen medium.
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Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
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Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
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Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
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Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
Column 92: The Ballerina Quilter
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Column 89: Quilting in The Bahamas
Column 88: Joan of Arc: A Quilter's Inspiration
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Column 85: A Bounty of Quilts
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Column 79: 54 Tons of Quilt
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Column 60: The Camo Quilt Project.
Column 59: Thread Wit
Column 58: Ralli Quilts
Column 57: Preschool Quilters
Column 56: The Story Quilt
Column 55: Red and Green Quilts
Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
Column 49: More Than a Quilt Shop
Column 48: Las Colchas of the Texas-Mexico Border
Column 47: Literary Gifts
Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
Column 44: Hen and Chicks
Column 43: A Star Studied Event
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Column 40: Tivaevae
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Column 37: Quilted Vermont
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