Alden B. Dow Inspired Modern Quilt to be auctioned for educational programming

The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio’s Education Program was chosen as the recipient of the Great Lakes Bay Modern Quilt Guild’s 2017 QuiltCon Charity Challenge quilt, titled "Focal Point".

To highlight this creative work, inspired by Alden B. Dow, the Home and Studio will showcase "Focal Point" for public viewing between the hours of 9am-4pm, in the Second Drafting Studio from May 18th to June 20th. Original drawings and photos of a variety of Mr. Dow’s Mid-Century modern door designs will accent the display. A silent auction will run the length of the showcase, allowing the quilt to be purchased by the highest bidder, ending on June 20th. The funds raised from the sale of the quilt will be appropriated to the busing fund used to bring students from around the region to the Home and Studio for the variety of education programs they offer.

"Nurturing the love of quilting in the next generation, is the GLBMQG motto", explained chapter founder, Tara Bird. "Our mission is to support and encourage the growth and development of modern quilting through art, education, and community. The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio is where young students are introduced to Mid-Century Modern architecture and design. It seemed fitting to gift this year’s quilt to Mr. Dow’s organization, since his legacy not only inspired our entry, but continues to inspire the youth of our community to carry forward and express their creativity"

The QuiltCon Charity Challenge, a nation-wide competition, is one of the Modern Quilt Guild’s largest-scale charity projects. QuiltCon East 2017 was held at Savannah Georgia’s International Trade and Convention Center. After the entries are displayed at QuiltCon, guilds are asked to donate the completed quilt to a local charity they support. This year’s challenge required participants to work collaboratively to create completed quilts using a predetermined color palette while crafting a design that plays with scale.

The quilt design was inspired by the work of Alden B. Dow; Michigan’s sole Architect Laureate and a Midland, MI native known for his contributions to modern architecture and design. Permission was obtained to use a photograph of a door that Dow designed for the Duke University President’s Home, to serve as inspiration for the quilt. The home is located on the campus in North Carolina, and is used to house visiting dignitaries and host conferences.

"Some members chose to carefully plan their sections, while others used improvisation. All the predetermined colors were used, as we felt it added visual interest and gave the impression of the stained glass used in the original door." Bird continued to describe the challenge of playing with scale that can be seen in a variety of ways on the quilt. "The piecing and quilting show that the door is set into an alcove. Each door section is unique with varying sizes of squares and rectangles to make up the window panes. The overall design of the quilt gives the illusion of depth. The quilting further enhances this. The quilting lines on floor and ceiling, and scale of blocks on the walls draws the eye in from the entryway to the door. The quilting also shows the uniqueness of Alden B. Dow’s ‘unit blocks’ which are present on many of his buildings."

While taking a tour of the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, a guild member met the daughter of Mr. Dow’s, Master Carpenter Ted Gwizdala, who crafted the door from Mr. Dow’s design. Stephanie Gwizdala-McMurphy, a docent at The Home and Studio, shared memories of being present while her father was working on it.

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"I remember how proud my father was of that door, it took an incredible amount of time and detail to construct. I have memories of him being out in the garage asking his buddies their opinion and they all agreed it was a beautiful piece of artistry and craftsmanship." Reflected Gwizdala-McMurphy, as she viewed the "Focal Point" display, "It’s an interesting comparison between two different mediums, the wood with the glass composition in the door, juxtaposed to the colors and the quilting of the fabric. Both the Door and the Quilt are amazing masterpieces of craftsmanship!"

Modern quilts are primarily functional and inspired by modern design. Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work. "Modern traditionalism" or the updating of classic quilt designs is also often seen in modern design.

The GLBMQD meets in the classroom area at Park Bench Quilt Shop in Midland, on the last Thursday of the month from 6-8pm and would like to invite all who are interested in modern design to attend.

For more information on the Focal Point silent auction visit the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio website at or call 989-839-2744.

Bid on Quilt at



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