The monthly newsletter from the Contemporary Quilt Group, CQG, a subgroup of the West Australian Quilters’ Association WAQA, just arrived in my inbox. I am a very remote member of both, (still hoping to resume residence in Aus)- and these e-letters keep me abreast with what’s happening back there. Recently a group of The Modern Quilt Guild http://themodernquiltguild.com/ formed in Perth, and apparently at a recent CQG meeting someone suggested that the CQG should to ” have a go” at that style of quiltmaking, and quoting from the newsletter this was “received entusiastically. Many members wish to try modern quilt techniques that include using traditional blocks, but in a contemporary way” which they’ll be exploring at a future meeting. Excuse me CQG girls – absolutely nothing has ever stopped any of you from experimenting with irregular piecing or using traditional design characteristics including blocks in a ‘new’ way – and nothing has stopped you taking a fresh look at colour, using whatever fabrics you wish, modern or not – and nothing’s prevented you from personally focusing on the more functional bed covering role of what we all do.
What is happening is that this movement is attracting attention from many younger and some older people who have not previously been involved making quilts, and who would prefer generally to make quilts for practical purposes. These people are not phased by style and organisational customs or rules that have grown up around the whole craft of quilting over the past 2-3 decades. The dreaded ‘quilt police’ have been sidelined, and the emphasis is on practicality plus fun, networking and pleasure in accomplishment. The time taken to make a functional attractive bed quilt is being slashed as modern designs requiring less piecing and more plain non-patterned areas are favoured.
If you go through this link you’ll find a very fresh looking website, and scrolling down you find a description of the guild’s objectives and the characterisics of their aproach. It’s centred on using modern communications – you’ll find them on facebook and twitter etc – and there are lots of online tutorials. Next year the first modern quilt guild festival/conference will be held, and it sounds remarkably like the giant Houston quilt festival; and in fact, the whole movement is starting to sound like a parallel world of The Quilting Industry as many of us now know it. Books, tutorials and classes, dedicated magazines, particular styles of fabrics that are favoured in their popular designs… the list goes on. Like many who have been quiltmaking for eons I applaud this fresh approach, and know that new exponents of the craft will (a) lower the average age of quiltmakers generally and (b) bring fresh ideas to the craft. At the same time I’m a bit bemused at the breathless ‘we’re different!” tone here, even as I count myself as one of them.