Saturday, April 23, 2016

Joe the Quilter, Returned to Michigan

Joe Cunningham with his quilt honoring his ancestral line
CAMEO quilt guild hosted Joe Cunningham this week. Joe is a 'local boy' from Swartz Creek, MI. He admits to a life long love of books, writing, art, and music.

Joe Cunningham's spoof on state bird quilts
He had a ten year music career when he met Gwen Marston. She was documenting the quilts of quilt historian and quilter Mary Schafer of Flushing, MI. Joe offered to assist Gwen by contributing  the quilt catalog copy. To educate himself Joe read extensively about quilts and even learned how to make quilts. He went professional, writing books and creating quilts with Gwen.

Memories of Italy and Flint MI inspired this quilt by Joe Cunningham
Joe Cunningham's take on Michigan Winters
Honoring the standards set by traditional quilt maker Mary Schafer became limiting to Joe's creativity and he allowed himself to leap off the path into a new style. His quilts often have a sense of humor. Some are abstract, others are naturalistic but using flat planes of color in the images. Joe often uses large pieces of fabric, or cuts a patterned fabric and repieces it. He has mastered computer quilting.
Joe Cunningham used photos of tar road repair for the embroidered designs
Joe's presentation was a blend of songs, the story of his artistic development, and a trunk show.

Rock the Block, Joe Cunningham's workshop quilt
Everyone had a wonderful time. Joe is personable and down-to-earth, funny, and a natural entertainer. We even learned some new tricks, like how to fold quilts to prevent creasing and a new way of finishing quilt edges.

Joe Cunningham
Joe has authored 11 books, including Men and the Art of Quiltmaking.

Read about Joe the Quilter at
See Joe's quilts at

Joe's brother Jeff attended a quilt display I helped create in Pentwater, MI. He was involved with the Coopersville Farm Museum show, Quilts and Their Stories. Jeff was excited to see Ann Sole's Gee Bend quilt.
Jeff and Ann looking at the Pentwater quilts

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