Innovative Irregularity In 1993 …

As so often happens when I’m looking for something in particular, although I haven’t yet found the thing I was looking for, I did come across a couple of older pieces I’d quite forgotten about, like this one, “Forecast Cooler, Windy”.

“Forecast Cooler, Windy” 1993, 98cm x 98cm, irregular edge, photographed against black.

I made this nearly 30 years ago, in 1993, while we were living in Denver. In that part of the country as the end of summer gives way to the Fall, leaves turn mostly yellow-browns as colour fades from everything except the evergreens in their dark to smoky greens. As the season advances and the weather becomes colder, it becomes quite windy, blowing the dry leaves to the ground.

Having recently learned the basics of improvisational cutting and piecing, I had begun to insert or reverse applique strips into backgrounds of freehand pieced designs – here signifying air movement across a vague suggestion of ‘Landscape’. The Bernina machine I had at that time had embroidery stitches that were programmable to either just keep sewing until you stopped them, or to have the machine stop after completing just one motif, so that was great to embroider individual motifs in gold metallic thread, scattering them across the quilt’s surface like leaves blowing in the wind. Machines like mine were being used to give some wonderful machine quilted textures as quilters explored their potential, producing relatively innovative stuff, with ‘art quilts’ still being a fairly new thing. What was really innovative in this work, to me, was the irregular shaping of the quilt’s edge. There was very little irregularity in edges then as not too many people had worked out how to use serious shaping on the sides and along the tops of quilts in such a way that the shaped bit didn’t flop forward, so any shaping was pretty modest by today’s standards.

Art quilt exhibitions were still relatively new, too, but rapidly spreading. I’m not certain, but it is very likely I made this to enter into a local art quilt exhibition like Front Range Contemporary Quilters, as Colorado textile artists were right at the forefront of these developments, which already included Quilt National, Visions; and most quilt guilds by this time had some art quilt sections in their members’ exhibitions. Wherever I entered it, I remember feeling I had to note on the paper entry form that the edges were deliberately irregularly shaped and that the quilt hung flat against the wall – I feared someone would see the image as incompetent workmanship 🙂 Within the next 2-3 years I’d produced several works with far more extreme shaping along the top, such as “Waterweave”. As I remember it, the Quilters Guild of New South Wales, as part of their effort to promote all forms of quiltmaking, traditional and art quilts, asked me to design an irregular shaped quilt with instructions to make it and finish such edges, to be a chapter in a book compiled by various art quilters in Australia… something like that, but the detailed factual info is in storage in Aus, along with my copy of the book, sigh.

Planning diagram and finished art quilt, Waterweave , 1996, 110cmw x 130cmh.

The link in the text just above the photo has some ideas on how to finish irregular edges – email me if you need further help. Of course these days, quel horreur – some people are just leaving torn or raw cut edges, without any binding or facing at all!

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