CAROL NILSEN-3rd place winner

Carol summered in Laguna Beach as a child and returned to teach and live with her family. A couple of delightful intervening years were spent living in a village in Suffolk, England, and in a flat just a few feet from the Seine in Paris.  Now retired from teaching but still living in Laguna Beach with retired pilot husband Roger and dogs Magellan, Zephyr, and Higgs, Carol is happy to dote on grandson Rowan and focus on fiber arts. She has exhibited her work across the United States.


I mull over ideas important to me and reinterpret them in fiber. I simplify and reduce concepts to fundamental forms, conveying value and emotion in the fabric’s color and texture. 

Through careful and repetitive concentric stitching, I create a visual meditation on these concepts, with original shapes gradually morphing into new forms before ultimately being exhausted. 

Lately, I have been hand dying assorted silks and linens, layering and manipulating them as I explore color and texture.

I try to share a slow, deliberate, and evolving contemplation of complicated ideas with a viewer.

Carol Nilsen CONTACT: 949 510 2355[email protected]

#1 Quilt: Convolutions    W x L 34 x 48   Materials: Vintage, hand dyed, commercial silks; metallics.  Interpretations of photography by Laguna artist Tom Lamb, showing looping tracks as tractors turn at rows’ ends. I created this piece from the silks, linens, and metallics found in used clothing, including a tattered old kimono, that I picked up from garage sales and resale shops.  I amended Tom Lamb’s photo to increase the convolutions, then pieced and stitched sections together.  I like to quilt each section, first with a contour line, then along smaller and smaller concentric shapes, each perhaps 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the last.  I enjoy seeing how the shapes morph until they’re exhausted, adding texture and dimension.

CONVOLUTIONS3rd place winner

#2 Quilt: Kelp: Advancing Entanglements  Size: 35×35  Materials:   Vintage, hand dyed, and commercial silks. Response to death of a friend’s son in beautiful kelp forest off Laguna’s Main Beach.
I wanted this piece to convey the duality of beauty and fatal power of our kelp forest. I sketched kelp as huge, aggressive shapes amid deeper, darker waters and the lighter, hope-filled surface, all in peaceful colors and graceful lines.  The silks are commercial and upcycled, along with some overdyed Japanese silks.  The piecing and quilting processes are similar to those in Convolutions.

Kelp: Advancing Entanglements

#3 Quilt: Homage to Diebenkorn   Size: 34 x28  Material: Hand dyed silks over recycled metallic brocade. Exploration of color variations by layering translucent silks.
Richard Diebenkorn was a renown abstract expressionist from California who often utilized thin, frequently scratched-off layers of paint on huge canvasses to capture the character of our light.  I used an upcycled metallic brocade jacket to piece the background, then overlayed it with silk organza and gauze that I had hand dyed.  The mottled silver brocade reflected light through the silks, and the silks themselves changed colors depending on how they were layered.  I worked in large geometric shapes to reflect Diebenkorn’s approach, and also to allow the silks to shine in their own right. Slabs of colored silk are stitched onto the backing with unfinished edges showing, capturing the light in myriad ways.  I see this series as a big, serendipitous departure from the carefully controlled shapes and stitching of the other two pieces, although color is key to everything I make.

Homage to Diebenkorn

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