TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List | Decorating with Textiles: Living with Cindy Grisdela’s Contemporary Quilts

Decorating with Textiles: Living with Cindy Grisdela’s Contemporary Quilts

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Cindy Grisdela fiber artist

Cindy Grisdela fiber artist

I’m a fiber artist specializing in abstract contemporary quilts for the wall. I’m particularly interested in color and the way colors interact with each other to enhance our experience of the world. Many of my designs draw on the traditions of the past, but reinterpret them in a contemporary way, reflecting the fact that I started out many years ago with traditional patterns and techniques.

Inspiration for my designs comes from keen observation of my surroundings, from the pebbles on the path, to the currents in water, to the colors of a meadow. Using improvisational techniques, I create abstract designs primarily with solid colors, and then add rich texture with a variety of quilting stitches. All of my work is designed organically without a preconceived pattern and the textural lines are added freehand, so no two pieces are ever exactly alike. All of the stitching is done on the sewing machine, but it is entirely hand driven. There’s no computer program or marking, just drawing with my needle and thread.

From my base in Virginia, I have a busy show schedule exhibiting my work at art and fine craft shows all over the country. Please visit my website and blog at www.cindygrisdela.com for details.

Cindy Grisdela foyer - "Playing with Crayons"

Cindy Grisdela foyer – “Playing with Crayons”

As a contemporary fiber artist, I have a lot of quilts and textile art in my home–it’s is a rotating gallery of work, depending on what shows I have going on and sometimes on my mood. There are quilts on the walls, runners on the tables, pillows on the sofa, and yes–quilts on the beds.

There are lots of places to enjoy quilts besides on the bed! In the foyer, pictured above, a colorful wall hanging called “Playing with Crayons” is a cheerful welcome to visitors and a hint of what’s in store as they enter the house. I’ve always had off-white walls on the theory that my work has so much color and activity that color on the walls too would be too much, but as you can see by the swatch of paint on the right, I’m beginning to experiment with more color on the walls.

Cindy Grisdela Living Room Quilt Arrangement

Cindy Grisdela Living Room Quilt Arrangement

The wall above is in my living room. It’s a great place to share my work because everyone who comes into the house sees it. The combination of different sizes and shapes in the wall hangings gives energy to an otherwise bland space and provides an interesting focal point for the room. A woven table runner softens the antique wooden console table behind the sofa. (That’s my cat, Indy, peeking around the corner!)

Cindy Grisdela - Rail Fence Table Runner

Cindy Grisdela – Rail Fence Table Runner

Fiber art gives a sense of warmth and texture to the space, and in the case of table runners or pillows, can be an easy way to add a splash of color or to change the mood of a room. You can even have different pieces for different seasons or times of the year. The Rail Fence table runner above works perfectly as an autumn table setting.

In the photo below, a pillow and a table topper coordinate using a bright strip of asymmetrical circle shapes complemented with a soft gray background for spring.


Cindy Grisdela Living Room – Pillow and Table Topper


Cindy Grisdela Living Room Bookcase – “Secret Garden” and “Garden Path”

In the shot above, the wall hanging “Secret Garden” is just the right size to go above the bookcase. The warmth of the fabric softens its angular edges and the colors complement the wood and the spines of the books inside. The piece also provides a nice counterpoint to the black and white painting on the left done by my son, Matt, and the smaller piece “Garden Path” on the right. There’s also an older Amish style quilt folded on the antique chair that belonged to my husband’s grandmother, and a small angel made out of an old handkerchief hanging on the handle to the glass front bookcase. We have a contemporary home, but my decor is eclectic, with antiques passed down through our families happily coexisting with more modern pieces.

Cindy Grisdela - "Autumn Forest"

Cindy Grisdela – “Autumn Forest”

We also collect paintings, sculpture, candlesticks, and functional and decorative ceramics to add artistic flair to our spaces, as you’ll see in some of the photos.

Add color to your walls

So, do the walls always have to be bland? Not at all! Last year I took a deep breath and painted the walls of my dining room purple–little did I know that this color was destined to be so similar to the Pantone color of the year–Radiant Orchid. The room itself felt cold and uninviting before, and I’m much happier with it now because it feels so much warmer and pleasant to be in.

Particularly at night, the glow of color from the walls makes you feel as though you’re in a special space. My wall hanging, “Autumn Forest” with its purple, green and gold color scheme, is a perfect way to add movement and texture to the narrow purple wall over a Christmas cactus plant on another antique table–this one from my grandmother.


Cindy Grisdela – “Abstract Stripes”

Tight and unusual spaces

In an even narrower space in the sun room, “Abstract Stripes” adds interest to the area between the windows and the door to a small balcony.

Another great place to hang quilts is in the stairwell. I have a open staircase going up three stories, so there are several opportunities to show my work there. Below one of my newest hangings, “Island Hopping,” has pride of place on the first floor stair landing.

I especially like how the sun coming in a window on the landing casts shadows that add even more movement to the space.


Cindy Grisdela Stairwell - "Island Hopping"

Cindy Grisdela Stairwell – “Island Hopping”

Quilt Care

A word about the care of quilts. If the wall pieces get dust on them, the easiest thing to do is to take a lint roller and gently roll it over the surface to pick up the dust. My table runners and pillows can be cared for the same way, or they can be machine washed in cold water on a gentle cycle. All of my fabrics are prewashed before being used. It’s wise to avoid placing any fabric art in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.

Cindy Grisdela - Bed Topper

Cindy Grisdela – Bed Topper

Bed Quilts vs Small Quilts

I don’t make full size bed quilts anymore partly because it’s too much bulk to get through the home sewing machine that I use for all my stitching. But, I do make what I call bed toppers that lie over a spread or comforter that covers the mattress. The topper can be left on or folded back at night. Working on a smaller scale also gives me the flexibility to create pieces that are more versatile–they can be hung on the wall or laid on a bed or sofa or cover a table. Lots more options!

Cindy Grisdela coasters

Cindy Grisdela coasters

Other Textiles

We also have textiles made by other people in our home, especially rugs. Some are oriental and some are handwoven by studio artists. Like the antique furniture we have inherited, these all add to the warmth and texture to our spaces. We find that contemporary textiles work well with vintage ones and bringing them all together is one of my favorite things about decorating with textiles.

Learn more about my work, my inspiration and my process on my website and TAFA profile. I sell wall quilts, table runners, pillows and coasters, like the ones pictured above, in my Etsy shop. It gives me great pleasure to think of my work bringing the same joy to other homes as I receive in mine. Thank you for sharing my textile journey!


TAFA Profile

Etsy Shop


Decorating with Textiles Series

Many thanks to Cindy for sharing her home with us for this series. Do leave a comment for her below! Cindy is one of TAFA’s pioneer members, joining back in March of 2010, soon after we launched and has been an active participant from the beginning. We treasure her insights immensely!

Would you like to participate in this series? The Decorating with Textiles Series is an ongoing project on this blog. This series is open to all of you out there who love textiles. Many of our TAFA members make beautiful decorative textiles and functional work as well and showcasing these homes can help stimulate new ideas of what to do with textiles. Seeing a photo online is much different from seeing how a textile will function in an environment. Many people appreciate textiles but have no idea how to display them or what to do with them. We’d like to have many people participate in this series, each bringing in their own ideas and tastes.

Contact me if you are interested and would like to submit a post:

rayela [@] comcast.net (remove spaces and brackets)

Visit TAFA to see inspiring art quilts, weavings and accessories for the home. Maybe you will find the perfect accent for your home!

Also check out our TAFA Market and our TAFA shops on Etsy!

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Click on the images below to visit Cindy’s shop on Etsy. If you right click to open a new window or tab, you can keep this page open and continue to explore our site.

I'm a fiber artist specializing in abstract contemporary quilts for the wall. I'm particularly interested in color and the way colors interact together to enhance our experience of the world. Many of my designs draw on the traditions of the past, but reinterpret them in a contemporary way. I have an active show schedule both locally in the the Washington, DC area, and nationally in venues all over the country, and I'm thrilled when one of my pieces speaks to someone else so they want to live with it in their home or office. My work is represented by Chasen Galleries in Richmond, VA and can be found in a number of private collections.


on Decorating with Textiles: Living with Cindy Grisdela’s Contemporary Quilts.
  1. |

    Thanks so much Elena–it was a great experience to photograph and write–made me think too about why decorating with textiles—mine and other artists–is so important to me.

  2. |

    Cindy, what a GREAT post! I learned a lot about your art, your home, and about you! Thoroughly enjoyable, thank you so very much for sharing!!

  3. |

    really enjoyed the tour of your quilts and your home. i am in the U.K. but would like to get more involved with TAFA


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