By KAREL HOLLOWAY
Special Contributor of Dallas News
When Melissa Sobotka quilts, there are no pinwheels, no wedding rings, no log cabins.
There are, instead, sinuous waves, Christmas-like ornaments filled with swooping whorls and re-creations of painted masterpieces.
Sobotka’s quilts are art, hanging in private collections and galleries. They have won national prizes, mostly recently best of show at the International Quilt Show in Houston. That carried a $10,000 prize.
Even though she’s been quilting just six years, Sobotka, 53, of Richardson says it has moved beyond a craft.
“It becomes art when it becomes a passion,” she says. “It’s something you have to do every day. You’re always thinking about it.”
She’s always looking for new designs, and her inspiration might come from almost anything that crosses her line of sight. The quilt she’s currently working on was inspired by old-fashioned wood yarn spools hanging on a wall. The quilt that took Houston’s top prize re-creates a shining work by glass artist Dale Chihuly that Sobotka saw at the Dallas Arboretum.
She based another quilt, titled Venetian Menagerie, on a retailer’s window display she saw in Venice.
Sobotka’s works are modern quilts, more like paintings in fabric than traditional quilts with geometric patterns. Technically they are called raw-edge appliqué quilts.
Judy Kriehn, president of the Quilter’s Guild of Dallas, says art quilts like Sobotka’s are controversial in the quilting world. Some aficionados believe only quilts in traditional patterns are real quilts.
“It is rare for an art quilt to win any best of show,” Kriehn says, although they are becoming more accepted.
Sobotka works daily in a long, narrow sunroom at the back of her house. There’s a desk where she designs and cuts shapes. White wire baskets are filled with neatly folded textiles sorted by color. She puts her quilts together on a banquet-size, plastic-topped table.
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To see more of Sobotka’s work, go to msfiberart.com.
Melissa Sobotka poses for a portrait with her self portrait quilt at her home in Richardson.
The winning quilt! Photo credit: Donna Simpson
Melissa Sobotka took a picture of a shop window in Venice and turned it into a prize-winning quilt.
The award-winning artist designs and stitches her art quilts at home in Richardson.
Photo credit: Images courtesy of Brandon Wade/Special Contributor Dallas News