Margaret Solomon Gunn won $5,000 from Sponsor, Janome, for The Value of Violet, Road to California’s 2020 Outstanding Wall Quilt.
Meet Margaret Solomon Gunn
Margaret Solomon Gunn, winner of Road’s Outstanding Wall Quilt for 2020, has quilted much of her life. She learned how to sew over 40 years ago but her journey to quilting was not your typical path. Margaret has college degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering and spent nearly 20 years as a professional engineer. When that profession proved too challenging to juggle the needs of 3 kids, Margaret bought a long arm quilting machine and started her own longarm business. For nearly a decade, she has quilted for clients all over the US and Canada. Before the Coronavirus, Margaret was traveling several times a year to national quilt shows, like Road to California, to teach her passion and talents to other eager quilters. Margaret continues to create her own works of art, which have won numerous awards. She has also published dozens of articles in quilting magazines and has five published books to her credit.
Margaret is not a stranger to having winning entries at Road to California. Before winning Outstanding Wall Quilt this past year, in 2014, she won the Masterpiece Award
And in 2017, she won Outstanding Traditional Quilt.
The Value of Violet
The Value of Violet gave Margaret a chance to explore creating depth, texture and design with just one color.
Margaret began working on this Outstanding Wall Quilt in 2018 while on a trip to Road to California. It took her about a year to complete and was “without a doubt the fastest of any show quilt I have done of this size, and with the fewest ‘issues’ too.”
Margaret says she often takes a traditional pattern (be it log cabin blocks, or hexagons, or with The Value of Violet, orange peels) and modernizes it with either her fabric choice or color. Recently, Margaret has “been bitten by the silk bug” since she learned about Kaufman’s silk, Radiance. Her quilts have been made in this fabric for the past 7 years. In the summer of 2018, when she learned it was being discontinued, Margaret bought and hoarded 50-60 yards of it for future projects. (Margaret lamented: “Who knew griping to the right people would have it back 18 months later?!)
One of the trademarks that has been incorporated in many of Margaret’s quilts is combining commercial cottons with the silk. The Value of Violet is no exception. She used the silk as the canvas to best show the machine quilting. Because Margaret “loves handwork,” all the applique on the quilt is turned edge and stitched by hand. Margaret feels the wide applique floral border gives the quilt interest. Rather than making all 4 sides of the applique identical, she made them all different, showcasing whimsical flora designs rather than making them “purely realistic.”
The top had a distinctive Asian feel to Margaret, due to the orange peels and the applique, so that was the direction she took for quilting the background behind the floral applique. The clamshell shape she placed in the pieced diamond corners was intended to visually draw the shape of the 3 similarly shaped applique flowers into the quilting. Further, Margaret explained, “the clamshell motif (as well as the pumpkin seed) is derived from the Japanese Sashiko patterns, so it all seemed appropriate.” The quilting was done using both a silk thread and a 40-weight polyester thread and, for the first time, Margaret tried cutaway trapunto.
The edge of the quilt was made up of ninety scallops which were quilted on the longarm. She added the deep plum piping and finished each on the domestic machine. Prairie points were placed behind them in white silk and batik. A pop of white was needed to better tie in the white appliqued ribbon so the final detail Margaret did was to add white pearlescent paint as a way to pull the viewer’s eye to the visual center of the quilt
Winning Outstanding Wall Quilt
Margaret found out she won Outstanding Wall Quilt when somebody who was at the show, saw the award, and shared the news with her. Margaret said she was “quite surprised” that The Value of Violet won because it had previously attended several shows and this was “the best that it has done at any show.”
The next project for Margaret is to bring forward the next idea for a silk quilt that is “lurking in the back of my brain.”
To learn more about Margaret Solomon Gunn, please visit her website.