Quilting Through History
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True Blue

A Quilted Conversation

The interplay of colors, patterns, and textures first attracted Marie Harrison Nelson (BS ’71, MA ’90) to rug making, knitting, and then, quilt making. Thirty years later, the award-winning artist from Sacramento, California, has pieced and quilted about 300 works. As a former historian at the California State Office of Historic Preservation, she studies the lives and quilts of earlier generations and appreciates the shared motivations and connections among quilters across time.

Detail of Blessings & Love. Photo by Michelle Baughan.
Detail of Blessings & Love. Photo by Michelle Baughan.
In the quilt Blessings & Love (above), Marie Nelson improvised, using scraps from abandoned quilts. Nelson’s Bourdeaux & Gris (below), with intricate longarm quilting, reinterprets the traditional “flowering snowball” pattern in a modern way. Photo by Michelle Baughan.

“I see my quilts as experiments or puzzles to be solved, playing with color and design elements and responding to the surprises, challenges, and discoveries I make along the way,” says Nelson, who enjoys machining, appliqué, and free-motion longarm quilting. “I try to be sensitive to what the quilt needs at various stages in its making, rather than meeting some predetermined idea. For me, quilt making is a conversation, a journey, and an affirmation of an inherent need to create.”

Bourdeaux & Gris. Photo by Michelle Baughan.