by Tisha Leung
With techniques firmly rooted in American quilting, Denyse Schmidt's modern interpretations reference 19th century whole-cloth quilts and cold-weather petticoats for a collection of intriguing one-off quilts on display at Ralph Pucci International.
Exhibiting five designs, the inspiration for her series "Hope as the Anchor of the Soul, Mount Lebanon Series Quilts #1-5" comes from a 2007 visit to Mount Lebanon Shaker Village in upstate New York. Schmidt draws her lines by eye and collaborates on the stitching with women of an Amish community in Minnesota. Each quilt hand-stitched, the thread is placed closely together, binding the top and bottom fabric with the loose fill sandwiched in between, resulting in a delicate yet wobby striation resembling an enlarged fingerprint.
Schmidt finds inspiration in the raw beauty of empty, decaying interiors awaiting restoration. Knocked out doorjambs, random linear gashes in walls exposing ribbons of lath and cream-on-cream layers of patches in the plaster visually translate the minimal piecing design of her new collection.
Her palette for these quilts emphasizes a sense of faded beauty and things fallen out of use. A base of parchment predominates, trimmed with accents of somber colored fabrics with rich texture, such as lace with a metallic thread running through it or embroidered linen.
As a professional seamstress, Schmidt has worked on everything from tutus and bishop’s mitres to fine clothing. The quilts will be on exhibit for approximately six months, and can be ordered through Ralph Pucci for $10,000 each.