'Tales in Thread' art quilts were inspired by words

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The latest exhibit in the public gallery at Hilton Head Library is a 27-piece testament to the power of the written word. Local fiber artists have created art quilts that were inspired by literary works.

"It was a challenge to the group to be inspired by something written, whether a book or story or poem" said Janet Johnson, a quilter and member of the Outside the Blocks Bee, an offshoot of the Palmetto Quilt Guild.

The resulting quilts are interpretations ranging from "Alice in Wonderland" to "The Raven" to "50 Shades of Grey."

The two dozen artists who created the works share a bent for creating non-traditional quilts. Ron Hodge, a member for about five years, said these are "quilts that jumped off the bed and onto the wall."

The art works include traditional quilting fabric as well as hand-dyed silks, and incorporate other materials such as yarn, beads, embroidery thread, buttons and felt - and even a miniature canvas.

The mixed media "Monkey See - Monkey Do" by Virginia MacKenzie is a tribute to her friend and fellow artist, the late Nancy Wittke, who was known for her whimsical art that often included monkeys in unusual contexts.

MacKenzie's quilt features a monkey, made from yarn, painting Sunbonnet Sue's portrait on a real canvas with a real paint brush. She also used buttons, crystals and beads for effect.

Johnson's "Under the Tuscan Sun" is a non-traditional patchwork "collage in fabric," she said. Along with vivid colors of different fabrics, she accented the scene with embroidery thread to give a 3-D sense of planted fields.

"Sing Your Own Song" is a colorful image of a bird on a branch surrounded by vibrant green leaves. Hodge, the artist, also stitched tiny beads onto the fabric to accentuate the bird's wings and the veins of the leaves.

The free-form quilting of the background looks much like an on-going doodle, but it is a design that Hodge created on a typical sewing machine.

"50 Shaydes?" by Jody Beth Wigton, is an obvious play on the book title "Fifty Shades of Grey." The abstract really does include 50 shades of grey, and the artist challenges viewers to find them all. Next to that quilt hangs Wigton's sequel, titled "50 Shaydes Lighter," an inspiration from the book "Fifty Shades Darker."

Viewers of all ages will appreciate the range of story ideas, colorful images and intricate artistry in the quilts. The exhibit will be on display through Feb. 3 during library hours.

The library is located at 11 Beach City Road. For hours, call 843-255-6500.

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