QUILTING WITH MEANING
Traditional quilting techniques are reworked by Jennifer Raish in striking and quirky designs that function both as a piece of art and a comforting quilt for a winter's evening.
As a quilter, Raish mixes traditional materials and techniques with an improvisational style, playing with the conventional 'rules' of sewing and quilt making: experimenting with edges and making quilts with unconventional borders, leaving fabric edges raw in the patchwork, and incorporating pretty selvedges. As well as bringing together different textures, prints and weights to experiment with fabric combinations, Raish also uses techniques such as visible mending, embroidery, and pintucks to bring another layer of visual interest to her quilts.
Image: Jennifer Raish, Improv Courthouse Steps.
'Improv Courthouse Steps' is a quilt that demonstrates Raish’s inclination to break some traditional rules of textile construction. For example, she deliberately includes the fabric's selvedge in some of the patchwork to show off its charming stripes and fringe. For practical reasons in garment construction, the selvedge is typically cut away and discarded, but Raish, trained in fashion sewing, knows that keeping it here does not affect the function or aesthetics of the quilt. The quilting is done by hand with a modern big-stitch style in neutral colors and there are a few small spots of visible mending too. Raish also embraced the unintended but beautiful effect of accidental colour bleed in the first wash that spread a muted pink across the white hues of the quilt. As a fellow quilter told her, “it's like the quilt decided to keep going with improvisation even after you thought it was done". The bleed indeed yields a softened, “lived-in” look totally fitting with the overall style.
Raish's aesthetic is eclectic; some quilts have minimalist qualities and others are vibrant and busy, while traditional quilt block patterns, such as flying geese, half square triangles, and courthouse steps are sometimes given a place within her freer designs.
Image: Jennifer Raish, No Justice, No Peace.
No Justice, No Peace (2020) is an art quilt made during Raish’s last months in Brooklyn, New York, that uses traditional blocks to process the trauma of issues that pervade modern society. The horror of George Floyd’s murder by Minnesota policemen in 2020 was felt intensely throughout the nation and the world and Black Lives Matter protests surged in many areas as people expressed their anger and frustration. This quilt is a reflection of the pain felt after Floyd’s killing. As one large ‘courthouse steps’ quilt block (a traditional quilt pattern) in all black, Raish addresses systemic racism and the power - held, withheld, and reclaimed- by governing institutions, the police, community, protesters and families. Inspired by Buddhist practice, she added a small crystalline jewel at the center. While this work is about confronting racism in the US, Raish also sees it as a prayer for peace.
Having moved from the United States to Fehmarn, a small German island in the Baltic Sea, Raish now works as a full time quilt maker, teacher and visual artist. Find out more about her work on her website: www.roseraish.com
We're delighted that Jennifer will be running a workshop on quilting for Selvedge in February 2022.
To find out more about the workshop and to book a place visit the workshops page:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this young woman who is pushing the boundaries of improv quilting with phenomenal results. Her work requires much careful looking and contemplation. Thank you for publishing this article!!