Inevitable Sameness From Common Technique

I’m sorry readers – somehow, by correcting the photo of my quilt which I discovered had become squashed down to something unrecognisable (I was looking for something else nearby) the correction has come up as a new post!  No matter, if you didn’t read it last year, it all bears repeating.  The point I make is not who first devised the improvisational method of piecing, though this is relevant, but, that taking a widely practised technique it is perfectly possible for two artists on different sides of the world to have the same idea and come up with something very similar.

Bushfire 4 adjusted blog copy










“Bushfire 4”  1999,  150cm x 200cm



scott murkin

Scott Murkin, no information to hand at time of writing.


I put up these two quilts to make the point about which I wrote to a member of  Quiltart list this morning, which said in part:  “….you referred to ‘Scott Murkin’s technique’,  and I thought  “Hmmm, wonder what that is….”  (I don’t get the popular quilt magazines and books these days so its possible to be out of touch with the latest)  Anyway, it turns out it is freehand or improvisational piecing, anyway!  And when I went online to see images of Scott’s work, there was at least one quilt there that looked like an adaptation and re-arrangement of blocks from one of my own bushfire  quilts ”   – pictured above.  Of course, it isn’t a copy, its just that using similar colours and similar technique produces inevitably similar appearance

“His” technique is what I and many others learned nearly 25 years ago from Nancy Crow – not that I ever called it ‘Nancy Crow’s technique’ because for her, technique has only ever been the means to the end of colour and design, and working through her long list of class exercises was only really possible via cutting and piecing freehand/improvisationally.
But actually, it wasn’t her technique, either – it was developed by a Canadian quiltmaker, Marianne Strother, who Nancy always used to bring into the classes she was teaching at Houston and get her to show her students how to do it…and according to Marianne who told me this, Nancy repeatedly urged her to publish this ‘new technique’ which Marianne by her own admission never got round to doing.  So Nancy in time just proceeded on teaching it herself and many began talking of ‘Nancy Crow’s technique’    As we all know today there are people working this way all over the world, and it has become a contemporary quilt making tradition if you can say such a thing.
So it isn’t ‘Scott Murkin’s technqiue’ any more than my students could say ‘Alison Schwabe’s technique’ though I always work that way, and have taught many to cut and piece freehand.  I’ve no doubt someone uses that term to describe their own improvisational piecing.


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