I love all this controversy. I love that we are talking about quilt issues, digging our hands deep in the loam of the quilting garden and really talking about things that bother us and that delight us. Rachel of Stitched in Color was quite frank one day about Saying Things She Didn’t Think She Should. Bammo! Millions of comments–some, mostly rants–about one aspect of the quilt world or another. I should have expected as much from all of us women who run blogs. Then her next post was about Things We Should Say, and the issues of it’s a subjective world (quilting) that some are trying to categorize objectively (skill levels, style labels).
Here’s my .02:
I’ve read all the posts and it seems like the conversation/comments has generated a healthy discussion, re: the labels of modern vs. traditional quilting. More about that at the end.
But about the other–the “dumbing down” stream. I’ve read all *those* original posts and realize that it had its genesis in trying to describe levels of skill. I think this is sort of one place where there is no subjectivity, and that’s kind of what set off the whole alarm bells and craziness. Either you have the skills to make successful HST (Half Square Triangles) or you don’t. It’s meeting an objective standard. For some, HST are intimidating. For others, they do them in their sleep. I do think it can be successfully argued that there are certain skills that come with practice and after having achieved them, a quilter can objectively say s/he’s got those down. I consider myself a master quilter, having done just about every technique in the book (some while I was majoring in CloTex in college, some afterwards as I took quilt classes to become more proficient). The point is I was still learning, still trying. And as I want to improve myself, I’m now trying to master more applique techniques. So even while I may have objectively met some unnamed standards of skill level, there is always more that can be learned, can be perfected upon.
Now: my .02 on the “modern” quilting business. A while back ( a year ago?) I read a blog post putting forth the idea that *modern* was one leg of a three-legged stool, the other two legs being *traditional* and the *art quilt*. I was happy with that idea–that we were all finding ways to be creative. I love the injection of fresh! new! that the modern gals have brought to the industry. I started quilting in the 1970’s when I was 21, and personally, I thought we were all getting a bit old and musty. Something had to change. I wasn’t ready to go the art quilt route because I still love a good cuddle under a hand-made quilt. So I was happy to see some fresh ideas, another way to contribute to our big wide world of quilting. It’s not an either/or. It’s all of us together, doing what we love.
I don’t think that this was its original name, but it is certainly the name it has now. I’d recently been on a trip to Venice and like so many other quilters, fell in love with the floor of the main cathedral. I bought the POSTER of the floor (they wouldn’t let us take photos) and started to sketch it out. This quilt was supposed to be one of those very clever quilts of using one block yet coloring it so many different ways that the quilt would be chameleon-like. Yeah, right.
It started out that way–I think that section is kind of in the upper right. Then I got tired. Then I started piecing things every which way. Then it sat, like an ugly gnome in a room of beauty queens. Here’s where the class thing comes in. I had to have a quilt to take to a workshop with Hollis Chatelain, who was just hitting the circuit after her very successful painted images (then quilted) were winning big prizes. I knew I would be experimenting with quilting, so grabbed this. She talked to us about spray basting (so I did that) and brought the “glued-together” sandwich to the second day of the class. I realized that I had to be plain-jane with the quilting, not swirly.
So the quilting consists of eight billion rows, one-quarter-inch apart, some in black thread and some in red and occasionally switching directions. I was never so happy to be done with a quilt. I put the binding on, a sleeve for hanging, but basically it is STILL an ugly gnome in a room of beauty queens. It rarely sees the light of day.
So, even though I execute flawlessly in objective skill level (well, okay, maybe not ALL the time), subjectively I can say: This Quilt Is A Mess. To this day, I’m still not a complete fan of tight row stitching, but I have learned from Red Pepper Quilts that there is a fresh, modern way to adapt that technique so it’s not so painful. So to all you bloggers & quilters out there–keep sharing, keep showing, keep writing. It’s good for us all. Even the tempests in the teapots.