Sunday, September 4, 2011

More thoughts on Modern Quilting

I've stirred up a little storm this weekend by asking for your votes in the Modern Quilting essay contest, a pleasant little diversion on a hot summer weekend.  But some of the comments, both here and on the comments page where you vote in the essay contest, have made me think about what we all mean when we make quilts.

Here's a comment from Ana:  "I don't think this is so much about old ladies, but more about what people want out of their experience as quilters.  What I have seen of Modern Quilting is fun, very fresh, very basic and functional, but it is not trying to give messages or be art in the way that your quilts, or Nancy's, or Terry's, etc are. It is about homely, cosy and pretty. I really cannot see one of Nancy's quilts being a picnic rug for the kids.

"I for one love the not-so-precious attittude and generosity of this new lot and this is not to say that more serious quilters are precious and/or mean, but by being serious quilters they want a different end to their work.  My bottom line is: does it really matter? Do we all have to become artists and strive for more? Can some of us enjoy this wonderful craft just as a craft and aspire to have an end product that is just what it is: a quilt to snuggle under?"

Ana, I think you have perfectly described the motivation of many people who discover quilts and decide to learn to make them.  It perfectly describes me, several decades ago.  I didn't think of my quilts as art; they were functional and pretty.  I was scared to attempt quilting a bed-size piece, so I made lots of smaller quilts, both for babies and for grown-ups. 

Here's a quilt I made in 1973 (it says so in the corner) in my early mama days.  It managed to end up flat and sturdy despite being sparsely quilted without a walking foot, and has held up, performing its function, for all these years despite its miscellaneous fabric content.  I don't think we had actual batting in those days, so heaven knows what's inside it, the face fabrics are a mixture of fibers and textures, the backing and binding are of some godawful polyester blend.  But it's still here, on a chair in my bedroom, ready to pull over my shoulders or feet in the middle of the night if it gets a little cold.

This started out as a quilt for my sister-in-law as a Christmas present, but I had no idea what I was doing and cut way too many orange, yellow and white rectangles, so after her quilt was made and in the mail, I made this one out of what was left.  Experiences like this constituted my quilt learning process, so I always chuckle when I read about formulas, directions and apps to help you calculate exactly how much fabric to buy.  Heck, what's the fun of making a quilt if you have no leftovers?  But that's another story.

I totally agree with Ana that not everybody needs to be an artist.  And younger women who come to quilting as a craft, whether it's to have a hobby, or to make home decor, or to find companionship, may not ever think about their work in the same way that we Fiber Artistes do.  That's fine.  But my wish for quilting craftspeople is that they find a way to express creativity in their design as well as their execution.  Just because your quilt will end up under your kids' picnic doesn't mean you can't design it yourself, choose the fabrics yourself, and do more than "contract sewing" of somebody else's idea.

And until midnight tonight, there's still time for you to vote in the essay contest, if you haven't already.  Click here to get to the article, read the essays (mine is #3), then go back to the article and leave a comment.  Thank you!!

1 comment:

  1. I say it is okay for each of to be ourselves in qulting. As long as we have fun, enjoy something about it, whatever that is. I enjoy the art part more than the functional. But I do enjoy a quilt to cuddle up with. My modern quilt guild is really not so different from the traditional ones I belong to. There are different ages of quilters, different color styles and different things we all enjoy. Some is more artsy, but more than anything it is a place to help people try a little something out of their box. And it is okay if you like that box adventure or not. We do have fun and enjoy each others adventures as well as our own.