Long Term Trends And Influences

It’s always interesting to look back occasionally and see how things including my views, issues and fashions/fads have changed. In April 2005 I wrote on this blog “When Is A Quilt Not A Quilt?”, raising an issue I still have a problem with: that there seems to be no lower size limit for an object to be called ‘a quilt’.

When a piece of quilted textile is so small as 1″ / 2.5cm inchies or 6′ x 4″/15cm x 10cm postcard quilts, to me it feels ridiculous to refer to that as ‘a quilt’, considering all the images associated with that word. Even the 7″x9″ samples SAQA periodically gathers up from members as a useful technical resource are hardly ‘quilts’, either. I feel as strongly about it now as I did back in April 2005 when I wrote that post. follow those links and you’ll find masses of these tiny textile units, many quite wonderful. Inchies and postcard quilts are often swapped in the mail by afficionados.

I’m not talking about miniature quilts, those technically amazing and often exquisite little textiles, as they are a legitimate thing. Despite my strongly held views and less than a year after venting on it, I allowed myself to be sucked into a postcard swap between members of a small group of Aussie and Kiwi textile artists I belonged to. There are fads and fashions in every area of fabric and textile art.

In 2006 I made these 10 cards and mailed one to every participating member of the group, but it seems art quilt makers weren’t so diligent as the more traditional quilters (who probably still meticulously carry out such swaps) as I only received 3 or 4 back. I’m not sure what happened to them, but they probably went into a drawer in my Australian sewing room which is still all packed and in storage as I write.

Postcards in a 2006 swap between some art quilt makers. Machine appliqued black or gold leather on each, and machine quilted. Approx 6″ x 4″.

In 2008 website underwent a total redesign, part of which was incorporating my blog to where it is today. A few of the earliest posts did not survive the move intact, but I found the photo for the 2006 post, and I love these long forgotten little pieces. The 10th postcard is pictured separately, because apparently after photographing them and placing them in the addressed envelopes, I found I was one short – so hurriedly made another, photographed that and managed to get them all to the post office down the street just before closing time. I’ve always been a bit of a last minute wonder.

Though colour ways and design units are different for each, they show

  • A design motif/unit I’ve used repeatedly over 20+ years
  • I’ve used leather in surface designs for 20+ years
  • Blocks/repeat units in grids are an enduring influence from traditional patchwork on my textile art
  • I think this was the last artist swap thing took I joined or was invited to take part in, which is fine by me 🙂

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2 Responses to “Long Term Trends And Influences”

  1. Pat Findlay says:

    I completely agree with you about when a quilt is or isn’t a quilt. I refuse to call any of my fibre art a “quilt”. It is a “hanging” or a piece of art, but quilting is just one of many techniques I use in my work.

  2. Alison says:

    Thanks for your comment, Pat. Your solution to this multifaceted issue is a good one. You’re right about techniques, many artists use several or even many in the one piece, and those works might more properly be described as “multi media” or “fibre art” than art quilts. People make categorical claims, many of them a genuine attempt to categorise art quilts v (non-art) bedding quilts, like the claim that begins a 2007 post on this subject http://www.alisonschwabe.com/weblog/?p=304 But actually, art quilts can be huge and used as bedding and there have been exhibitions of art quilts draped over forms suggesting beds. Traditional bed sized quilts can be hung on walls rather than draped over beds. Techniques aside, there’s the matter of unusual materials, and that does rev my engine! I enjoy exploring unusual materials and have created using leather, vinyl, clear plastic, nylon organza.

    When sending my art works off anywhere I always term them ‘wall hangings’, and usually nominate a $value that bears no relation to its actual sale price – FEDEX will insure up to a maximum of US$200 or $250 I think, but whatever it is isn’t relevant, unless it’s going to a new owner who’s paid for it, then of course I buy the extra insurance, but otherwise, no. Fingers x when I say this, but in 30 years they’ve never lost anything of mine.

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