The Queen of Ice creates art with fabric.
Many women quilt, but no one works magic with fabric quite like Kay Koeper Sorensen, a quilter from Paddock Lake, Wisconsin, who calls Ocala home for half the year.
“When I first started quilting my goal was to make one of every quilt block there ever was. How little I knew!” relates Kay. “My quilting preferences have varied over the years. I love all types of quilts, from the most primitive antique quilts to the most cutting-edge contemporary quilts.”
Kay started out making traditional block quilts before she began making the stunning creations she is known for: one-of-a-kind quilts made with dyed fabrics.
Respected for her masterful use of color, Kay is known as “The Queen of Ice” and has developed her own personal ice-dying technique to make dramatic patterns and colors on the fabric she quilts with.
Prewashed white fabric is soaked in a soda ash solution and then covered with ice. Powdered dye is sprinkled over top. After 24 hours, Kay rinses and then washes the fabric and irons it once it’s dry.
“At one time I bought fabrics dyed by others, but eventually, I realized to get the fabrics I wanted, I would have to learn to dye them myself,” says Kay, who took classes from top dyeing teachers Carol Soderlund and Jan Myers Newbury.
To date, Kay has completed 512 pieces, and her work has been exhibited across the country and beyond. This last spring, her exhibit Florida Ice, was displayed at Ocala’s city hall.
Kay’s current quilts are seldom done with a traditional block format. She works on a vertical design wall, which lets her evaluate and make changes throughout the process.
“All my early work was quilted by hand. Today I use my sewing machine to quilt my art,” says Kay. “The hard edge machine quilting creates is more suitable for the strong graphic designs I create.”
It takes anywhere from 30 to 2,000 hours to create one quilt, and this is only the actual design, construction and finishing time. It doesn’t include the time spent dyeing fabrics and working on design.
Kay taught quilting for over 30 years. Although she’s retired from teaching, as an artist, she will never retire from creating art.
“I believe one of the reasons quilting has remained so popular is because there is a place for everyone, from beginners to accomplished quilters to collectors,” she notes.
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