Not your granny’s quilts – Marco quilter wins national award

Lance Shearer

They are not your grandmother’s quilts. And Deb Crine is not your grandmotherly quilter.

The Marco Island woman, who just won a national award in the American Quilter’s Society national fall quilting show in Paducah, Kentucky, has taken her quilting art far from the traditional look of geometric patterns and squares of printed fabric.

Marco Island resident Deb Crine won first place in her category at a national quilting show of the American Quilter's Society.

Her quilts feature her own paintings, in textile dyes on silk, which she then accents with painstaking detail in multicolored silk thread. Her most recent piece, titled “Tickled Pink,” features a pink flamingo, in a painting she modeled on a photograph.

“It took months to do – it’s a very laborious process,” Crine said of producing a quilt in her preferred style. “I only do two quilts a year. That one was 60 inches by 50 inches – the biggest painted piece I’ve done. It took three weeks just to paint it.”

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Silk dye painting is key to her technique. “Painting on silk was unlike anything I had ever done. The vibrancy of colors and transparency was so much greater than anything I could achieve on cotton,” said Crine.

Deb Crine works on a polar bear-themed quilt. Marco Island resident Crine won first place in her category at a national quilting show of the American Quilter's Society.

Then she takes the silk fabric, mounted on a stabilizer, with a layer of batting behind it – “the definition of a quilt is three layers,” she said – and adds yards and yards of silk thread, picking out each wisp of a feather on the flamingo. To Crine, that is the heart of quilting.

“It comes to life when I start stitching it. That’s what breathes a soul into the piece.”

“Tickled Pink” won first place in “Wall Quilts – Flora and/or Fauna” at the show in Kentucky, earning Crine a $1,500 prize and a ribbon to add to the dozens she has tacked up in a corner of her sewing room, behind the big Innova long-arm sewing machine.

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The quilt is now making the rounds of quilting shows, heading for its next stop in Virginia Beach.

“I’ve won some nice awards,” said Crine. Her “Mac Macaw” quilt took second place in a Houston show Crine described as the “largest in the world. I compete against other art quilts.”

Her work has been published in national magazines and books, and displayed at art galleries, national and international quilt exhibits and the National Quilt Museum.

She said quilting does not get the respect it should as an artistic medium, with the image of Grandma Moses quilts fixed in people’s minds. Crine is a grandmother herself; she and Bob Crine, her husband of 36 years, have two children and one grandchild.

They retired early from his career as a principal in a firm specializing in replacement cost analysis, moving to Marco Island from Princeton, New Jersey. He works as a real estate agent with Keller-Williams, and she has a part time job as receptionist at Salon and Spa Botanica.

They are not exactly empty nesters. With three dogs of their own, the couple regularly fosters additional dogs through the Humane Society.

A Crine quilt titled "Mac Macaw." Marco Island resident Deb Crine won first place in her category at a national quilting show of the American Quilter's Society.

Deb Crine’s artistic output is not limited to just quilts. She creates portraits, specializing in pets and other animals, working in paints or pastels.

“You don’t sell many of the quilts. They’re so labor-intensive,” she said. “My mother, my brother, and my kids love them” as gifts. Asked to put a price tag on “Tickled Pink,” she paused for a moment, then specified $7,500.

You don’t have to spend that much to own a commissioned piece by Deb Crine, though, even one featuring your own beloved animal friend. Her website offers pet portraits for under $200 – pastels, not quilts.