PIQUA — Artist and former Piqua resident Linda Thoma Cooper dazzled an estimated audience of 90 attendees at the YWCA during their monthly luncheon on Wednesday with numerous of her unique quilts, inspiring them with a variety of ways in which they can personalize their own quilts.
Cooper’s quilts featured vibrant colors, ombre patterns, painted flowers and backgrounds, three-dimensional pieces hanging off the quilts, quilted portraits, and much more. Many times, the audience was audibly impressed with Cooper’s work.
“I like color. I like three-dimensional fabrics,” Cooper said. Cooper explained that many of her quilts utilized an ombre design, which is the gradual blending of one color hue into another. It is also currently a popular hairstyle.
“I tell my kids I’m actually doing something that’s in at the moment,” Cooper said.
Cooper’s ombre patterns were sometimes a part of the fabric itself and other times created herself, whether by painting it directly onto the fabric or sewing an ombre design.
Some of Cooper’s quilts that she painted on herself also utilized raw-edge appliqué, which is a quilting technique in which the raw edges of the fabric are left exposed and become frayed instead of being tucked under.
Many recurring themes in her brightly-colored quilts were flowers and fish.
“I used to be a good gardener, but now it’s just easier to garden in my quilts,” Cooper said.
In one quilt, Cooper also painted a flower of her own onto the fabric. On another, Cooper sewed extra flowers onto the quilt after she said she used a little too much orange paint in the background.
Cooper’s quilts even incorporated puns.
“This is actually Joe’s hand,” Cooper said, pulling up a small quilt depicting a man playing cards and the cards were on display. She also had a quilt that she made in honor of when she gave a kidney to her brother Joe, and the quilt depicted coconuts hanging from a tree in the shape of kidneys.
Cooper also displayed her kinetic quilts, many of which had shapes cut out of the center of the quilt. In that empty space, Cooper hung quilted pieces — such as fish or flowers — as if they were Christmas ornaments. The pieces that hung in those empty spaces were attached via a wire and fishing swivels that allowed those pieces to spin around, making the quilt a little interactive.
Cooper also reinforced those quilts with Timtex, which is found in the stiff part of baseball caps or purses. Cooper also got creative with some of the three-dimensional pieces that hung on the quilt, using aluminum to help those pieces stick out and keep their shape.
“The insides of the fish are made from beer cans, which I sewed,” Cooper said.
Cooper also utilized metal mesh and even toothpicks in some of her quilts for unique shapes and added stiffness.
On some her smaller artistic pieces, Cooper also incorporated shibori fabric and scarves. Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique done by various ways of compression, including binding, stitching, and folding. With one of her quilts, she used shibori fabric to make a three-dimensional fish and spirals.
“This one I put around a PVC pipe and ran my stripping in a spiral down it, squished it down, and painted it with a glistening sort of paint,” Cooper said. She also put thin wire in it to make parts of the fish stick up.
Cooper also does not just shop at quilting and fabric stores for her materials, but some of her materials come from thrift shops and antique stores.
“I like to go to the thrift shops because you never know, and some clothes have beautiful things in them now,” Cooper said.
On one of her quilts, she utilized pieces from old wedding gowns. “I ended up painting those, and the polyester and whatever’s in those paints beautifully,” Cooper said.
Some of her quilts were also portraits, such as one of a court jester and one of her great-aunt.
Cooper has been quilting for over 20 years and is a member of a quilting guild in Virginia. She also teaches fabric painting, raw-edge appliqué, and other classes at the Artistic Artifacts Annex in Alexandria, Va., and the Quilt Patch in Fairfax, Va.
Many of the quilts Cooper showed during her lecture can be found on her website at www.lindacooperquilts.com.
Reach the writer at (937) 451-3336