Famous quilter - Shulamit Ron (Israel)
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Shulamit Ron - Israeli quilting artist

Several weeks ago we have interviewed Shulamit Ron - one of the most known Israeli quilting artists. We were very happy to talk to Shulamit, because she is very positive, kind and talented person.
All photos for the publication of this interview have been kindly given us by Shulamit Ron.

 More to learn about Shulamit and look a photo gallery of Shulamit's quilts you can at:

 http://www.canaanart.com/

  

Shulamit, if you please, tell us a little about yourself and about when you started to engage in patchwork and why you choose this technique? Perhaps someone in your family was fond of needlework?

I was born in Kishinev and came to Israel with my parents when I was 10 years old. My mother is a knitter. Since I could remember myself, I saw her with the knitting needles. I learned to knit when I was 5 years old, and when I was 18 years old I knit twelve sweaters in one month, all my own design. When I was in university, I came across two quilt books. They fascinated me – the color, the repetitive geometric design, all appealed to my aesthetical sense and related well to my training as an architect. I bought the books and made my first quilt – a pink and green bed quilt for my parents. My mother still has it on her bed. A few years later, I have made another quilt. Due to lack of knowledge, I made it using the English paper piecing method, as I did not know there are other ways to make an accurately pieced quilt.

We know that you take part in various festivals and quilt shows. It involves the exchange of experiences between quilters, communication with colleagues. Do you take a membership of any professional organizations or communities?

15 years ago, I discovered that there are other quilters in Israel. I joined the Israeli Quilting Association and took a few lessons. I also joined a local quilt group that meets once a month. These monthly meetings were instrumental in my progress, as I really wanted to show finished projects to my peers. Almost immediately after joining the association, I was convinced to join the association board and even held the chairperson position for several months. At some point, I discovered, however, that I do not like the politics involved in the board activity and resigned. I am still an active member of the association and often teach in the association workshops.

The contact with other quilters is critical in our growth as quilters and artists. The quilting world is rich in friendship and generosity. Apart from the local group and association, I participate in several online quilting lists. Through the lists I have participated in several group projects and have met quite a few wonderful friends, whom I had the opportunity to visit and some of them visited me.

I have participated in a few exhibitions abroad – in the American Quilter’s Society show in Paducah Kentucky, in the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, and the Open European Quilt Championship in Holland. I have also participated in several quilt exhibitions of the Israeli Quilting Association and had a solo show in Israel.

Last year you were awarded a special prize at the Open European quilting Championships. Could you say a few words about the event: principles of refereeing, how would you rate the organization of the championship?

The Open European Quilt Championship is a small show by American standards, but it is much easier for me to go there than to the US. The OEQC has changed venues 2 years ago and in my opinion still has some growing pains. The judging was done by three international judges who judged the quilts by composition, color and craftsmanship. The problem with the exhibition in 2009 was lack of wall space, which resulted in quilts hanging in two and even three rows, so that the top quilts were hard to see. It is important to point out, however, that the organizer, Mrs. Ada Honders, was very attentive to comments made by participants and visitors and I am confident that the problems will be resolved in the coming exhibition.

In what way the safekeeping of the works presented in these championships – are  the organizers takes care about the damage or loss insurance – or it is a matter for the participants?

I do not remember whether the OEQC insures the quilts. In most cases, the quilts are insured at the exhibition, but the quilters have to take care of the insurance while the quilts are being transported.

                                                                                                  

 Despite the fact that the contest works should have to disclose the same parties specified topic (if we are not mistaken, the theme of the last championship was the "Magic") quilt? that submitted by you, " King Solomon’s Magic Carpet” favorably compares with other works its special colorite. Shulamit, tell us please, as that the idea to build just such a work, how did you choose a color, what kinds of techniques are used?

 

The OEQC has always a theme, but you can also submit quilts that are not on the theme and be eligible for all of the prizes, except the best interpretation of theme. The theme “Magic” presented a special challenge for me. In the last few years, I have been trying to develop my own “language” in quilting reflecting my roots in Israel and the Middle East. I started thinking of the Arab tales of A Thousand Night and a Night, but it did not work for me. Then I came across a legend that Queen of Sheba brought King Solomon a gift of a magical carpet. I decided to make a quilt that will depict that legendary carpet. King Solomon was known for his pluralistic attitude to wives and religion, so I decided that my carpet would be as pluralistic and have Islamic and Jewish symbols. In general, I took artistic leave to disregard the historical timeline. Islam did not exist in King Solomon’s times, but I was sure that if it had, Solomon would surely have a Muslim wife! Therefore, my carpet contains the Mihrab arch that is typical to Islamic prayer rugs, the tree of life that can be found in Jewish and Islamic art, the pomegranates that are symbolic of fertility and devotedness in Judaism, etc. This quilt is my prayer for peace and the ability for Jews and Muslims to live side by side in our troubled land. On a more personal note, I have a special spot for King Solomon’s as my name was given to me in memory of my grandfather, Solomon, and was based on the name of Shulamit in King Solomon’s Song of Songs.  

 In your opinion, what are the current trends in patchwork and quilting? Are there any special development features of this type of creativity in Israel?

The quilting world is divided into traditional and art quilting. The traditional world develops mainly in the area of tools and notions – such as special new rulers for rotary cutting. There are also evolving techniques to help achieve precision and speed. The art-quilting world is changing much more dramatically with the introduction of mixed media techniques and materials, painting and printing on fabric. One of the most prominent developments in the traditional and art-quilting worlds is the growing popularity of long-arm quilting machines.

The Israeli quilters are leaning more and more towards art quilting. Quite a few very serious art Israeli quilters exhibit abroad and receive prizes.

Shulamit,do you organize any workshops or courses, do you have students?

I teach classes both at home and in the Israeli Quilting Association. I specialize in fabric dyeing and art quilting techniques, as well as beading, mola and appliqué. These also happen to be my favorite techniques.

  Where it is available to see your works in the near future? What are your plans? As far as we know, you preparing  your second personal exhibition in Israel?

As for the future – King Solomon’s Magical Carpet was accepted to Paducah 2010, I am planning another solo exhibition in Israel soon, and a solo exhibition in the Open European Quilt Championship in 2011. In general I feel that I have not been exhibiting enough abroad and plan to exhibit much more from now on. It is my dream to teach abroad sometime in the near future, as this is a unique opportunity to meet other quilters and share my passion. 

 Shulamit,  what you can advise for craft beginners? Perhaps, to pay attention for any materials, equipment, software or it is only question of  inspiration?

This is a very good question, and not an easy one to answer. It is very important to find out what is it that you enjoy doing most – do you enjoy the craft aspect of quilting or the artistic expression? Do you like working by hand or with a sewing machine?
Learning is very important – from teachers, books, and DVD’s. I am mostly self-taught, so I know this can be done, but I also know that my path would have been much shorter and smoother had I found a good teacher in the beginning of my voyage.
Yes, it is important to have good basic tools and materials, but I have seen wonderful quilts created from recycled fabrics with a needle, some beads, and embroidery thread.

And the last “tip” – do not wait for inspiration, do not agonize over masterpieces, simply make quilts - one after the other. The more you make, the better you will become. As incredible as it may sound, quantity eventually brings quality.
I wish you an adventurous journey!

Photos: The magnificent quilts by Shulamit Ron - "Bird of paradise", "Amphorae #1", "Hammat Tveria Mosaic".

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