The Virtual Quilt, A Newsletter for Computing Quilters

Number Seven * April 1, 1996

The Olympic Games Quilts Displayed in Atlanta

We don't usually review quilt shows in TVQ. They're mostly local and ephemeral in nature, and there are thousands of them each year throughout the world. There is a very special quilt show in Atlanta right now, though, that is intensely local and conspicuously international at the same time. It's the display, at the Nicholson Gallery of the Atlanta History Center, of almost 400 quilts made in honor of the Centennial Olympic Games to be held here later this year.

The show, entitled "The Olympic Games Quilts, America's Welcome to the World," scheduled to continue through May 12, is the result of an effort organized by the Georgia Quilt Project four years ago, shortly after the Barcelona Olympics. That group, formed in the 1980s to document the state's quilts and quilters, wanted to find a way to commemorate, through quilts, the first Olympic Games to be held in the South.

Working with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG), the Quilt Project proposed that the quilters of Georgia make a gift of quilts to the athletes and the Olympic organizers of each of the nearly 200 countries participating in the Atlanta Olympics. Two quilts would be presented to each country -- one to the athlete who serves as the flagbearer for the nation in the opening ceremonies, and the other to that country's Olympic committee.

Producing 400 quilts was a big undertaking, but the Quilt Project had several years and a large contingent of quilters to assist in the task. The rules established for the quilt-making were that they were to be produced by residents (or in some cases former residents) of Georgia, or members of Georgia quilt guilds. The quilts could be of any design except the Olympic rings and torch, and were to be a convenient lap quilt size of 54" X 70". Quilts could be hand- or machine-quilted (but not tied), and equipped with a hanging sleeve. Quilters could not specify what country would get their quilts.

The Olympic Games Quilts were completed over several years and have been displayed in small groups at guild shows all over Georgia. They have finally now all been gathered in Atlanta for this show, which is the only time they will be displayed together before they are dispersed to their "home" countries during Olympic ceremonies.

Displaying this many quilts, with such a high degree of diversity, in a relatively small gallery, presented some logistical problems. The organizers solved these problems with an elegantly simple approach: the quilts are displayed in alphabetical order according to the countries to which they will be presented, beginning with Afghanistan and ending with Zimbabwe. Arranged in tiers of three quilts each, they form a patchwork corridor that stretches from floor to 10-foot gallery ceiling, and winds its way through several twists and turns. The lighting is good, and while the spacing is tight, there is in most cases room to stand back and admire a particular quilt if it catches your eye. One shortcoming of the arrangement is the fact that some quilts are tucked partially behind others in the racks, so the aesthetic effect of some overall designs is compromised.

These are relatively minor criticisms when compared to the overall breathtaking experience of the show. The quilts range from very conventional abstract patchwork designs to representational quilts displaying athletes, the Atlanta skyline, and other regional themes. Some feature more daring variations on the traditional, including watercolor designs, and there are a surprising number (given the tight deadlines) of applique quilts. There were no quilts which would qualify as "art" quilts, but the variety is striking and the quality consistently high. The amount of care and enthusiasm that their makers put into them is evident in every quilt.

Among the quilts that stood out in my mind was one destined for the National Olympic Committee of Australia called "Georgia on My Mind," by Margaret Jenkins of North Augusta, S.C.. It depicts a huge peach above a city skyline, the peach made out of rail fence blocks. Cindy Richards of Decatur, Georgia contributed a very impressive colorwash quilt entitled "Go for the Gold -- A Heart of Gold," which depicts a large heart on an Olympic pedestal. This quilt will be presented to the National Olympic Committee of Great Britain.

In a quieter vein, "Georgia Farmlands" by Jeanne Adams and Ardis Young of Covington, Georgia, which will be presented to the Philippines' flagbearer, portrays a subtle mosaic of plowed fields in muted pinks and greens, again in rail fence blocks, set on point. The most elegantly simple quilt is a very pure Delft-blue on white "Double Nine-Patch Variation" submitted by Anne Barrett of Oxford, Alabama. This quilt will be given to the flagbearer from Mauritius.

In addition to the 400 quilts destined for participants, several special quilts were made to honor and commemorate the Olympics and those who organized them. "A Quilt of Leaves," which will remain in the possession of the Atlanta Olympic Committee, was designed by a six-member team from Atlanta, San Francisco, and Providence, to be the official Olympic theme quilt. Once designed, the quilt was made by two Atlanta-area quiltmakers, Barbara Abrelat of Decatur and Sammie Simpson of Alpharetta. The quilt, which has a royal purple background, features large appliqued leaves in green, red, blue, and yellow. The leaves and branches represent the heavily-treed city of Atlanta, as well as laurel leaves for the athletes and olive branches for peace.

A quilt featuring a large, semi-abstract phoenix (the symbol of Atlanta's rise from Sherman's ashes) and a city skyline, also made by Barbara Abrelat, will be given to Juan Antonio Samaranch of the International Olympic Committee and will be displayed in the Musee Olympique in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The program/catalogue for the exhibit is a 144-page book in the large-format style of quilt books entitled The Olympic Games Quilts, America's Welcome to the World. It was published by Oxmoor House, and features color plates of all of the quilts displayed in the show. As a special bonus to quilters there are also instructions and templates for making four of the quilts, including the "Quilt of Leaves." The quality is very high, and if you can't make it to Atlanta the book is available from Oxmoor House, or perhaps at your local quilt store, for about $20.

If you have plans to be in Atlanta in the next six weeks, you should put this quilt show on your itinerary. It costs $7 for admission, and in my book "The Olympic Games Quilts" might just be a better show than the event itself, which I plan to watch on TV.

More information on the Olympic Games Quilts and the Georgia Quilt Project, including online video clips, can be found at the Atlanta Olympic website at and (Photos taken by TVQ of this quilt show will also soon be posted at the TVQ website at


THREAD AND THIMBLE: New fabrics from the Thimbleberries Country Spirit Collection by RJR. I've moved and redone my web page so please take at look at ~karenm/thread.htm for a listing of my complete line of fabric, quilting books and notions. For $1 and a self addressed stamped envelope I will send you 10 4" charm squares of my latest fabrics. Please e-mail for more information and mention that you saw this ad in TVQ.

For Sale: Large, colorful "Kimono Memory" quilt poster, pieced kimonos alternate with sashiko embroidered blocks. Published in "Japanese Quilts" book by Liddell and Watanabe. Perfect for your sewing room, nice enough for the living room. Send $15 (includes postage and mailing tube) to: Marina Salume, 419 Correas Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

QUILTED CREATIONS takes the "Drab" out of wheelchair accessories. Designers of the original Quilted Wheelchair Bag , also Walker, Tote and original design Fanny Bags. These bags are made and designed by Millie Becker, a wheelchair user, who understands the needs and mobility requirments of others who use mobility devices. send a sase for a color picture brochure to: QUILTED CREATIONS
P.O. BOX 3891
PEABODY, MA 01961-3891

or e-mail for info ENRG18A@PRODIGY.COM Millie Becker or visit web page at milliebecker.html

In This Issue:

Following is a list of the rest of the stories in this issue of TVQ. In order to read them, you must be a subscriber. Subscribing online here and following up with the small subscription fee will entitle you to eight issues of TVQ, including this one. You will receive TVQ every six weeks by e-mail, and will be issued a password to access it here on the World Wide Quilting Page.

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And here's what's inside!

Girls' Games Revisited

TVQ revisits the attempts of toy companies and game developers to find something that appeals to girs.

Quilting on the Web

This issue's "Quilting on the Web" takes a look at sites in Australia and Illinois, a thoughtful U.S. site put up by Catherine Jones, and a non-quilting but related site devoted to the work of Dutch artist M.C. Escher.

TVQ Essay

Distributed Creativity: Speculations on Quilting, Computers, and Art. by Catherine Jones. A thoughtful essay on the impacts of computers and software on the ancient art of quilting.

Quilter Profile

Anne Brown, Maine Designer and CIS Forum Leader is the Quintessential Computing Quilter

Software Review: The Joy of Quilting CD-ROM

Is Quilting's First CD-ROM Ready for Prime Time?


Billions wasted in internet investments? Online quilting featured in QNM; New Virtual Quilting Group in Tampa; Electric Quilt Company announces new version of software.


Like any news publication, TVQ is always hungry for information about new developments in the area we are trying to cover. If you have an idea for a story, or want to tell the world about something you are doing which relates to computers and quilting, we'd like to hear about it.

We'd like news of new classes starting up to teach quilt design on computers, or new approaches to that teaching. New products, maillists, World Wide Web pages, etc., are all fair game, and we'd appreciate any tips you can provide. Send your tips by e-mail to

If you have a comment about an article, a complaint or a correction, we're glad to hear that, too, and may publish some comments as letters to the editor. Again, these may be sent to

Editor and Publisher: Robert Holland, Decatur, GA

1996 by Robert Holland. All rights reserved. This file may not be reproduced in any form except to be printed out for the personal use of its owner without the expressed, written consent of the copyright holder.


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