Have you heard the buzz about Sawtooth?
And it's the inspirational pattern for a stunning quilt exhibit at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.
"Sawtooth: New Quilts From an Old Favorite" showcases the winning works from a 2008 international quilt competition organized by the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Ky. Each year, the museum challenges quilt artists to create an innovative design from a traditional pattern like the Double Wedding Ring, the Bear's Paw or Rose of Sharon and turn it into a work of art.
Sawtooth is a triangular block pattern, born in the 19th century and named after the teeth on a saw blade. Here, quilt artists present its softer side in imaginative ways, employing whimsical themes, zesty color schemes and curvy lines.
The pattern can be found in a spiral leading to Alice's Wonderland, on leaves in a garden, on the backs of lizards, and in rays of starlight.
"What always surprises me is what quilters can do with what are essentially square blocks," said Ken Hannon, the art center's director of communications. "You get a sense of motion and action in what is essentially a very regimented art form."
The first-place quilt, Berry Patch, was created by two artists, Claudia Clark Myers and Marilyn Badger, of Minnesota. It has intricate stitching and employs a technique called trapaunto, which produces a raised surface on the quilt.
"When I start to work, the ideas come tumbling out like the clowns stuffed into a tiny car in a circus act," Myers said in her commentary.
The Sawtooth exhibit is complemented by two other displays of small quilts created by local quilt artists.
Innovative Quilters, the museum's resident guild, presents more than 50 journal quilts depicting the musings of the local artists while demonstrating some new techniques. Many of the 9- by 12-inch quilts are for sale and priced from $30 to $200.
"It's all about trying out new techniques on a small scale that would make nice decorations for homes," said Christine Milton, president of Innovative Quilters. "Each quilt artist has their own specialty, whether it's making paper flowers or creating elaborate bead work or adding some handmade ceramics."
The other display is from local artists, many of whom are members of Innovative Quilters, who have donated more than two dozen mini quilts for a silent auction, with proceeds benefiting the Dunedin Fine Art Center's educational programs. Themes include flying teacups, mermaids, snowbirds and cats.
The auction typically raises $2,000 to $3,000 for the art center, Hannon said.
Hannon said the art center's biennial quilt show is one of its largest.
"Quilting has become a very contemporary art form, on the rise for the past 20 years," he said. "And we are fortunate to be the first museum in Florida to showcase the winners of this prestigious international competition."