As I don’t consult my horoscope daily, I must have missed portents of an interesting congruence that has emerged.
I’m a long term and distant committee member of Ozquilt Network Inc. an organisation for makers and followers of art quilts in Australia. I have been putting together a Power Point Presentation on art quilts for Ozquilt, designed to be shown to groups and individuals in the traditional quiltmaking community to introduce them to art quilts; and we think it may interest a wider number of other fibre artists, too. Starting with the techniques and processes all quilt makers have in common, it goes on to feature images of some of our members’ works, showing how they have used these plus just some of the potential options of techniques and material combinations available to anyone who would make art quilts. But these things of course are not what makes the ‘art’, its what you do with them that is important.
I have always seen tradition as a two sided coin, and it’s a very human thing to cling to traditions. On one hand there are some people who like things to be done they way they always have been since time began, and who go to considerable trouble to maintain traditions – these are the quilters who always make traditional designs, and perhaps others’ more modern patterns but essentially always work from a pattern, It’s safer that way – you know how its going to turn out, and they are perfectly happy quilting this way. There are others, though, in being very human in their behaviour, too, just can’t help changing things a bit, or a lot, whatever! These people start to make a variation on a traditional or an original design because they can’t find a pattern for exactly what they want. They tend to be the experimenters, people who venture beyond the boundaries of traditional quilt patterns. As they continue in this process they can find themselves learning something about design, ultimately strengthening composition skills and learning the basics at least of colour theory. In the making of art quilts such skills assume more importance because they are needed to convey the message/artist’s vision, via almost infinite choices of materials and techniques – and in that mission the choices need to be effective. It’s a less safe zone than the securely traditional, but a quite challenging and and exciting way to make quilts. This PPP will be available to Ozquilt members to present to groups of quilters and individuals around them, and naturally we’re hoping some will realise perhaps they already make art quilts and others become motivated to extend their quilt making boundaries.
I made a traditional quilt once, a flying geese design, back in 1988. Begun in a symposium class conducted by Blanche Young, the doyen of the flying geese pattern in the ’80’s – here it is, with apologies for being so poorly photographed – I will get it out sometime I’m back in Aus and do better! Flying Geese wallhanging, approx. 100 cm x 60 cm, 1988.
Which now brings me to an assignment I’m really looking forward to. Fellow art quilt maker and highly esteemed colleague, Kathy Loomis, just asked me to look at and review her recently published new book “Pattern Free Quilts” which she described in her email as a guide for quilters who want to break away from using other people’s patterns. A topic very dear to my heart indeed, and as soon as I’ve received and had a chance to read it, I’ll post the review – so watch this space.