Don’t tell Ben Venom that quilting isn’t hardcore

We’ve certainly framed our share of quilts, but nothing, uh, nothing quite like the quilts of Ben Venom. To look at his work, you’d think he was a hardened quilter who’s been doing this his whole life. But Venom started quilting in 2008 when he was invited to be part of an exhibit in Berlin. While trying to think of what kind of art he could ship overseas practically, Venom remembered being inspired by the quilts of Gee’s Bend. He decided to combine the craft with his love of heavy metal rock n roll. (Actually, if you look in your thesaurus, “heavy metal” is the exact opposite of “quilts.”) Hey, we were just talking about how one of the key ingredients to art is the juxtaposing of different elements that have never been thought of together before. Well, using lots and lots of rock band T-shirts, he’s created fabric mosaics filled with pentagrams, ram’s heads, and other images you’d expect to see in a tattoo. Uh, or in a quilt.
After you get over the initial novelty of quilts crossed with heavy metal, and really look at his work, you begin to see that Venom has created not only unique, but beautifully crafted pieces of art. Never mind the subjects on the surface for a moment – consider the abstract quality of each piece; the shapes, the stitching, the colors. These choices result in something bigger than its parts.
Ben Venom has become a one-man art movement, exhibiting his amazing quilts all over, sponsoring rock concerts, and teaching various quilting classes and workshops.

The Mega Quilt, a 13′ x 15′ monster made from over 125 heavy metal band T-shirts.

Here’s a baby quilt he did on commission for a couple that have each been in rock bands. The shirts Venom used are from the new parents’ own wardrobe.

In case you think that Venom has a gang of grandmothers churning these out in his basement, here’re some pictures of him at work. Personally, we find them very inspiring. Meighan O’Toole over at the amazing site My Love For You, has visited Ben Venom’s studio a few times and took these pics that shed some light on his process. The quilt in the last two photos, inspired by the Misfits’ song “Where Eagles Dare”, is his newest piece and probably our favorite so far. And we love that while he’s working on it, Venom’s wearing – of course – a heavy metal T-shirt.

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  • Michelle Haberstroh  On April 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Awesome,love it!When I started working at a fabric store in Mesa AZ.I decided to try my hand at quilting.I asked the gals if I could use skull fabrics for my first quilt.They told me,”There are no Quilting Police”. If I’d only known quilting before Id given away all my Metal shirts years before.

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