Mixing art with craft

Near Barbara Houshmand’s bedroom, in her home halfway between Sequim and Port Angeles, hangs a quilt that serves as a memorial to all her deceased relatives — her parents, brothers and sisters, an aunt.

Houshmand said she knows some people may consider it morbid, but for the quilter, it’s about tribute and culture. Houshmand said she did a whole collection of quilts revolving around the early November Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, El Día de los Muertos in Spanish, which honors those who are deceased.

“We go to Mexico once a year and I love going during the Day of the Dead,” Houshmand said. “I really, really respect the way they handle the living and the death of people.”

Houshmand, who said she’s been quilting in some form for her entire life, said she does more “artistic” quilts, rather than “traditional” quilts, where the maker follows specific patterns that all quilters use.

“There are some beautiful traditional quiltmakers in the (club),” she said. “(But) I am not a traditional quilter. I don’t use patterns … I make my own designs and patterns.”

Houshmand said she gets her ideas from anywhere and everywhere. One of her pieces features a large red heart with a window in it because Paul Simon’s song “Graceland” was playing on the stereo at the time. The chorus of the song goes “And she said losing love is like a window in your heart.” The idea for another quilt came to Houshmand after a tarot card reading during which the reader kept speaking about bowls. Houshman used antique kimono fabric to create a grass-green quilt that depicted bowls and other parts of the reading.

Since inspiration simply comes to her, Houshmand’s collection of quilts is varied — some look like contemporary paintings, sparse and artistic, others are made of silks from Italy and still others are created from fabrics she dyes herself.

One of her most recent quilts, which she titled “Ladder-Day Saints,” is a reflection of her Utah upbringing and the “dance” as she calls it between the Mormons and Catholics in her family.

“This quilt reflects … my experience of being raised in a world of conflicting opinions and beliefs,” Houshmand said in an artist’s statement. “The quilt is an artful expression to provoke thought about one’s beliefs.”

The quilt features ladders and crosses of varying shapes, sizes and colors set against a stark black background.

“I love the shape of a cross,” she said. “I think the shape is just beautiful.”

Quilting fun

Who: Sequim’s Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club

What: Sequim Prairie Flowers, the club’s annual show, which features more than 200 quilts on display and quilting demonstrations

When: July 18-20, same weekend as the Lavender Festival; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Sequim Middle School gymnasium, 301 W. Hendrickson Road

Admission: A $3 donation is suggested

More information: Visit

The Pacific Northwest Quiltfest is being held at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle on Aug. 8–10. For more information, visit

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