Seeing Beyond the Practical


A handmade dress or quilt can be just that—a practical solution to an everyday need—or it can be much more. Here is what happens when an artist sees beyond the practical and creates a work of fine art.

lace blessing dress(click to view larger)

Baby Blessing Dress and Bonnet, by Elizabeth Peterson, bobbin lace

This artist carried on a tradition of creating bobbin lace started by her grandmothers, one in Switzerland and the other in England. Shown here in detail, the dress was created in five sections using a total of 708 threads. It took about 650 hours to make, and the matching bonnet (not shown) took 250 hours.

Line upon Line, Precept upon Precept(click to view larger)

Line upon Line, Precept upon Precept, by Yvonne Hawkins-Bent, glass etching, wood door

This etched glass, which is set in a wooden frame, is a full-sized door. It is a wonderful way to symbolize the passages we make as we progress through eternity. This artist used etched glass as she sought to show connections between progressive geometric shapes and the plan of salvation. She says that these connections emphasize “the beauty, depth, and majesty of God’s plan.”

The Heavens and the Earth Were Finished(click to view larger)

The Heavens and the Earth Were Finished (Genesis 2:1), by Shu Kuan Tai Shen, embroidered fabric

“Twelve embroidered pieces [represent] the six days and six nights of the creation,” says the artist of her Xiu Qiu. She also embroidered a scripture on another heart-shaped pouch.

Tender Mercies(click to view larger)

Tender Mercies, by Eleanor Holt, acrylic painting

This artist chose an unusual table as the object to decorate with the “tender mercies” of her life. She says, “I wanted to illustrate some of the abundant joys and gifts given to me by God—my temple marriage, my eternal family, animals, trees, flowers, [and] music.”

blessing dress(click to view larger)

Heirloom Blessing Dress, by Irene Monson Jenkins, sewn fabric, Merit Award, Eighth International Art Competition

When this artist made the decision to create a blessing dress for her granddaughter, she also decided to create a family heirloom that could be passed on for generations. Made of the finest fabrics and ribbons, this dress also has a white slip with three generations of family history stitched into it—an ever-present reminder that each child is a part of an eternal family.

To see the Eight International Art Competition in full, visit LDS.org/churchhistory/museum/competition.

Photographs by Welden C. Andersen