Judith Larzelere, who has been making abstract quilts full-time since 1978, says that sewing and thinking about fabric have always been pleasurable to her, so it seemed very natural to turn to these skills for a career. Her experience with needle and thread began at the age of seven, when she started an embroidered sampler .She learned to knit from her fifth grade teacher and still makes a sweater or two each year. She later trained as a painter at Rutgers University in Brunswick, New Jersey, where she learned to develop her innate love of color and earned an MFA. Her work has been exhibited around the world and is included in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, and in the corporate collections of Bristol Myers/Squibb, SAS, the First National Bank of Boston, and the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia.
Judith's images are abstract and non-geometric, so they do not rely on a block/grid structure. "I am seeking to recreate the apparent artlessness of nature's organic forms," she explains." I am fascinated by the flicker of light on moving water, the shimmer of the Northern Lights, the drift of clouds, and the patterns of pebbles washed up on a beach.” Quilts made in the past 14 months are moving toward new territory. “Most recently I have been working on a series of quilts that rely on chance placement of colors. The new work contains the barest minimum of traditional elements of an art piece so that I can focus exclusively on creating a vibrating color field. Colors with varying ability to advance off the picture plane are chosen in order to create spatiality without form, composition, or subject.”
"I feel that I am exploring the same problems and expressing the same inspirations in my quilts as if I were a painter using oils or acrylics. Instead, I choose colored cloth as a medium, because I like the collage aspect of designing with fabric. I like selecting from available color rather than mixing paints,and I love the tactile pleasure of handling cloth.
"The technique that I use is machine strip piecing. I re-cut the pieced fabric and then machine quilt it in a process sometimes called 'flip and sew quilting.' I do not make a separate top that is later quilted.
"When I start designing, I make a scale drawing in black pencil that is rather like a skeleton showing the underlying structure in directional lines. Next I go to my fabrics to choose the colors I want to use. I also decide how large the quilt will be and calculate how much stripped fabric I will need to sew to complete the quilt. Then I decide on color placement and the direction of the stitching rows of the quilting. At this point, I draw on muslin a full-sized image of my design showing all the machine quilting lines. Next, I begin cutting strips of solid colored 100% cotton with a rotary cutter on a plastic cutting mat. I machine piece all the strips together, press the seams to one side, and then begin cutting straight across the stitching with a rotary cutter. This gives me long, pieced bands of cloth which I then sew down onto the muslin pattern that has been basted to a polyester batting and cotton cloth backing. After the assembly using the "flip and sew" quilting, the edges are squared up and trimmed. A binding showing 1/4" wide on the front edge is machine sewed around the top and hand hemmed on the back.
"Although my images are planned and color choices are very deliberate, I work with a great deal of looseness as I begin to sew the quilt together. I can improve my original design, and, because of this flexibility, I can discover unexpected visual events which may give me ideas to try out in the next piece."