Book Review, C&T, C&T Publishing, piecing, quilt desgin, quilting

Gemstone Quilts Creating Fire & Brilliance in Fabric, Step by Step – MJ Kinman

Gemstone Quilts Creating Fire & Brilliance in Fabric, Step by Step
MJ Kinman
C&T Publishing $29.95
112 pages
A few years back I made my way into the City (Manhattan) to meet MJ Kinman for an event honoring her work by the Women’s Jewelry Association. Desiree Habitch is/was her coach/mentor, who worked on getting me invited to the event to cover it for Generation Q Magazine. MJ’s quilts are unusual in the sense of presenting multifaceted gems, capturing their brilliance and depth of color, each quilt as unique as a gem. I’m not sure I knew then the big life changes associated leading to her work as a quilt artist. Reading more of MJ’s journey is fascinating, leaving a well paying corporate job as she wasn’t experiencing joy in the work. While that statement is something of an oversimplification she is one more person who’s walked away to pursue the passion of her blue flame.

As a quilter my interest is piqued with the way color is combined, and thoughtfully stitched together to give us, the viewer, something incredibly beautiful to look at. We can see the depth of the gems presented, and each is as unique as the gems presented. As a quilter who is fascinated by, and continues to pursue how color plays over the surface of a quilt MJ’s use of color is masterful on level I hope to achieve one day with thread.

Each quilt is paper pieced which MJ explains in the highly detailed, step by step chapter entitled, Creating a “Star Chart” Freezer-Paper Piecing Techniques. This type of piecing is a process of planning, assigning, gathering, identifying, and stitching. Each of the steps are key to the overall success of the quilt. These are quilts worth making not simply for their beauty but for the study of color and creating pieces that will grow our understanding of how color plays over the surface and how much we can have. In the quilt to the left here there are sneak peeks of orange that add a lot of interest to the quilt and keep our eyes moving around and our brain engaged in the overall beauty of the gem.

In the same way the orange keeps our interest in the quilt above, the blue does the same in the gem here to the right, capturing our attention as the light would pouring through the stone. The variety of yellows from light and bright to deep and rich give us a sense of the variety of yellow, and how much color our brain perceives.

The Student Gallery is chock full of images of quilts using the paper-piecing techniques MJ teaches in unique ways. I won’t tell you my favorites but one might involve another friends fabrics and another involves a chicken and then there’s the one with the wrought iron gate because who doesn’t like wrought iron. As with many techniques the breadth of possibilities is deep and limited only by our fertile, creative imaginations.

I will add that as a free-motion machine quilter my next step in each of these would be to add a bit of sparkle with judicious use of a variety of metallic and different shades and tones of each hue/color.


Happy Stitching,


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