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The Fabric of Societal Fringes



Sometimes the best and most creative outcomes arrive from the collision of unlikely pairings. Here are two: quilting and the fringes of society. Or as quilter Ben Venom describes: “motorcycle clubs, punk rock, heavy metal, the occult, mysticism, folklore, paganism.” The imagery in his quilts include skulls, knives, blood, dice, spiders, eagles—you get the idea. And he doesn’t just design these themes of the fringes, they are built right in; you can find anything from old denim to bandanas to camouflage to old band t-shirts among the fabrics.

In terms of quilting techniques: “There’s a right way, there’s a wrong way, and there’s the way I just decided to do it—which is my way,” says Venom.

He cites seeing the quilts of Gee’s Bend (a selection of quilts made by four generations of African American women who inhabit a strip of land formed by a deep loop in the Alabama River) as his first dive into the world of quilting. He was inspired by the rich history and use of old, recycled fabrics. Immediately after seeing the collection, he went home and began cutting up fabrics he had on hand.

Venom’s unique and unusual quilts have sold for thousands of dollars and have been exhibited in countries all around the world. Appropriately, he works out of San Fransisco’s Haight-Ashbury.

Want to view Venom’s complete gallery? See his portfolio of quilts here.

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