Posts Tagged ‘cyclical nature of fashion’

Having a Go

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

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.

 

Slow Stitch ?

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

6" square, hand stitched, straight/running stitch filler, chain outline.

I had an email this morning from a textile arts friend, mentioning something I’d never heard of before – ‘slow stitch’ and ‘slow cloth’   (and as we all know, ‘cloth’ is a reverent term for ‘fabric’ or as we say in Aus – ‘material’)    ‘Cloth’  implies something has beeen done to the fabric to give it a whole new meaning, which I won’t go into here – but that’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek observation,  just in case you don’t know me well enough to hear me speaking between the lines, and I digress. 

Since the mid ’70’s  I have been stitched and studied the art of the stitch, having an exhibiting life as a creative embroiderer years before I found myself in the world of quilted textiles.  In all that time I had never come across this term, so of course I googled it.  To my delight but some amazement, I found there’s a whole new generation out there discovering the joys and expressive potential of the hand made stitch and in particular the most basic stitch of all, the running stitch.  It’s been around for ever, long and short, in thick and thin thread, string, leather thonging, cord and more, and of course we all know it as the stitch most used in hand quilting.  It appears in countless ethnic embroideries around the world, as both outline amd filler. 

Above is a pic of one of the small samples I did in a workshop,  “The Expressive Stitch’, taught by Canadian artist Dorothy Caldwell in Western Australia, more than 4 years back.   Let me tell you there’s a few hours’ work, perhaps 6 – in that little 6” square piece and I’m no slouch with the needle.  We each designed motifs from our own individual lives while we learned about the needleworked cloth pieces, Kantha, that Indian women in the Bihar region have traditionally made, and which now regularly find their way to collectors in the western world.  Down the years I have seen some very old textiles and fragments in museums – most memorable being a fragment of layered brown (dirty?)  felt,  hand quilted with linen thread in a cross hatch/diamond pattern.  From the outer Mongolian steppe, and dated around 400AD  it was most likely padding that went between horse and saddle. 

The hand made stitch has been gathering favour in contemporary fibre art for some years now.  But what felt new to me was the near evangelical fervour I detected in the bloggings of several recent converts to the expressive, therapeutic, relaxing and calming effects of hand stitch.  Of course, the traditional quiltmakers and embroiderers have always known of these qualities,  but now it seems that some ‘art quilters’  are tiring of frenetic zooming all over cloth with fancy computerised speed regulated machines, and responding instead to the slower pace of hand stitchery with it’s minor imperfections …  if you wait around long enough, most things come back into fashi0n again, in some form or other :-p

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