Looking at Deborah Vollbracht’s quilts, you would think they are close to perfect, but for her, that’s not what this hobby — or even life — is about.
“Not everyone has to be a superstar, perfect technician on whatever they choose to do and create and have fun with,” Vollbracht said. “Just to have fun and enjoy life and explore. … Don’t put the pressure on yourself of having to be perfect.”
About a year ago, Vollbracht decided to make a bucket list. On her list was making a quilt good enough to be accepted into the international show. Although she says her work isn’t as good as a professional, her hard work has paid off. Her quilt “Hurricane & the Calm” has been accepted into the 2019 AQS QuiltWeek — Charleston, South Carolina, from Sept. 25-27. She was also accepted into the fall American Quilter’s Society Paducah (Kentucky).
Vollbracht, an artist in Delta County, started sewing when she was 9, creating doll clothes. From there she spent decades sewing every kind of clothing imaginable: jackets, suits, and even bridal. While pregnant with her first child, Vollbracht decided she would make a quilt.
She started with traditional quits and making the transition from clothing to quilts was easy. Vollbracht said the skills she learned creating clothes transitioned well to quilting.
While living in southwest Florida, she helped establish a quilt guild, which now hosts several shows. She won many awards there, has been asked to lecture on the topic and won a scholarship to study at the American Quilter’s Society.
One of her techniques is not common. Her piece “Coming and Going” is a two-sided quilt that is constructed with round, not square, blocks, which are strip-pieced. This quilt was featured on the cover of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine.
“For me it was an outlet, a creative outlet in my life and I had some successes and that was thrilling,” Vollbracht said. “Just something I will continue on.”
Over the years, Vollbracht said she hasn’t been completely dedicated. She’s left and come back to the hobby off and on for more than 20 years and enters competitions here and there. Her favorite aspect — the hand work.
She put it down for about 10 years when she moved to Colorado. When she moved she was enamored by the outdoors. But again, she came back to it.
“I just love making beautiful things,” said Vollbracht. “I’m so enamored with the color. I love the bright, saturated colors and I expect to do this until I can no longer do it.”
“Hurricane & the Calm” is hand-appliqued, hand-quilted and took about four or five months to create, using the anamorphosis technique. She said she loved every minute of this project, but it may be the last big one she does, because it was such a long process.
Straight on, the piece looks like hurricane conditions on a beach. From the far right, it looks like a calm beach scene. Vollbracht calls her piece an impression piece.
She got the idea for this quilt from an art book at the library. She came across a painter with the last name Holbein who lived in 1645. His work is not clear from the front, but standing to the side of it reveals different images.
These “aren’t your grandmother’s quilts,” Vollbracht likes to say. Traditionally, the quilts used random pieces of fabric and normally geometric or applique. These quilts have more of a modern twist, she said.
QuiltWeek – Charleston, South Carolina, draws entries from quilters all over the world.There are first-, second- and third-places in several categories and seven overall awards, among them, best in show. Including all the awards, winners will be granted over $50,000. The winners will be announced on QuiltWeek.com.
Quilting isn’t Vollbracht’s only project. She sells small items at the Blue Sage Center for the Arts in Paonia.
Vollbracht is looking to give back. She is trying to create cheap simple patterns. These are small items such as cell phone bags and placemats. Her target is stay-at-home mothers who could make these items and sell them to bring in a little money.
“I’ve always been that way since I was a little kid,” Vollbracht said. “Helping people, doing stuff for them, making things and just giving it to them — not for a birthday or (any occasion). I just love seeing people’s faces light up.”
She said she’s thrilled to have her work accepted into shows. And just going for it — new things — is fun. It brings in all the senses, Vollbracht said.
Monica Garcia is the news editor at the Montrose Daily Press.