The evolution of 3-D quilt making by Canadian artist Dominique Ehrmann is quite an extraordinary story. It begins in 2005 with a simple question by Dominique’s husband, Stefan, “Will you go camping and fishing with me for a month long trip?” Dominique, who was an accomplished chocolatier, thought this over and considered what shewould be doing while all this fishing was going on. She enjoyed casual sewing, so she agreed to go but only if Stefan made her a sewing machine that she could use without electricity. She would sew in the woods while he was off catching dinner.
At this point in her life she had never been to art school, had never drawn, or engaged in an art activity other than her creative chocolate endeavors.
Stefan rose to the occasion and invented a solar-powered sewing machine for Dominique and a propane heater for her iron. With that, she set off on a completely unexpected path as a self-taught novice quilt-maker-in-the-wild to become a sophisticated fabric sculptor and fiber engineer.
On their first trip, Dominique began to make sketches and taught herself the craft of quilt making. Her first piece was a traditional pinwheel quilt pattern.
In 2007, her daughter, Gabie, graduated from design school and Dominique wanted to make something “to impress her.” In doing so, she created her first 3-D quilt, Lady Gabie. It won first place in a large competition in Montreal. She continued to work, began taking quilting classes, stopped making chocolates, and discovered her first children’s pop-up book. She dismantled it to understand how it was constructed and that was the genesis of Come With Me, the large quilt in the middle of the room. She worked on this quilt for two years and completed it in 2010. The back alone took her six months to complete.
To date, Dominique has not discovered anyone who works in her technique and certainly not on this scale.
Her next 3-D creation was Serenity. Dominique decided that she wanted people to feel a deep emotional response to her work, to feel as if they were immersed in the outdoor environment where she works and the stories she has to tell. Look closely at Serenity and you will see Stefan fishing in the river and Dominique hard at work at her solar powered sewing machine. Since 2005 they have traveled and camped for many months throughout the United States as well as Canada. These quilts are a celebration of their adventures. In 2015, Dominique decided to create a giant pinwheel to celebrate her 10 years of quilt making and honor her very first quilt. This pinwheel is on display in front of Highfield Hall when the weather permits.
For years, Dominique submitted her work to quilt exhibitions and competitions. She discovered that while she often won People’s Choice awards, her emerging 3-D technique was difficult to ship and was not always acceptable to judges of traditional quilting shows. After an exhibition of her work in Vermont last year, and with this exhibition at Highfield, Dominique has come to realize that her work is best exhibited and enjoyed in a museum environment. We are very proud to support her artistic journey.
— Annie Dean, Director of Programs and Exhibitions, Highfield Hall and Gardens