Thursday, March 5, 2015

Quilt Con: Trends Part III

Welcome back to my three-part series on the trends of Quilt Con. If you missed my pervious posts, check them out here and here.

Put a Ring on It

Gemstones were prevalent, which is fine by me. This may be just the excuse I need to snatch up some Cotton + Steel Moonlit Gems.
Facets by Liz Harvatine


If urban landscape is your thing, you're in luck. Architecture has had a sizable impact on modern quilt design.
Building Bridges by Jacquie Gering
Barn Remnant by Kim Eichler-Messmer


Be forewarned, I'm about to make a bold observation that is merely my perception and a generalization at that. I completely understand if you hold a completely differing opinion. Traditional quilt shows typically praise the merits of near-perfection, pristine points, meticulous detail, and the ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible through countless hours of painstaking effort coupled with years of experience over all other aspects; modern quilts are valued more for their ability to evoke a response through a dramatic original design.I have heard this emphasis on design reiterated by others in the blogosphere. Christa of Christa Quilts said, "I enjoyed viewing so many original compositions and appreciate that there was such an emphasis on aesthetics and design." Lee shared her perspective on her blog Freshly Pieced, "In my own opinion, design is the single most important element of a modern quilt, and it seemed clear that the show organizers held that opinion as well." Janie Vangool, editor of Uppercase magazine, was one of the three judges at Quilt Con. She had many insightful suggestions in her recap, but she did note the importance of craftsmanship by writing, "An extremely high level of craftmanship and technique is possible--and breathtaking to see--but perhaps was more rare than I was anticipating considering we were viewing quilts to be judged."
I'm not going to serve in the role of quilt police to point out specific examples in anyone's work. My opinion with regard to others' quilts is that if it doesn't bother you, it doesn't bother me. Everyone has differing levels of obsessive compulsion and technical experience. However, I would venture to say that offenses such as not tying off and burying your quilting threads, truncated points, slightly mismatched seams, less-dense machine quilting, or a few misplaced half square triangles will not put you out of the running for being juried into a modern-minded exhibition of quilts.

Rainbow Brightness

Modern quilters don't seem to be terribly apprehensive so it's no wonder that they love using bold, saturated colors -- all of them!
Huckleberry by Rebecca Bryan

Gaggle of Geese by Janice Ryan

This concludes my series on the trends of Quilt Con. Would you agree with my assertions, or have you observed otherwise? What commonalities of the Quilt Con quilts did you notice?
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  1. What I happen to notice is that if I could be only 5% as good as these quilters then my life would be complete.

  2. "If it doesn't bother you, it doesn't bother me." I love this philosophy, Afton.

  3. I wasn't able to attend QuiltCon, and I do, VERY MUCH, appreciate bloggers like you who have been sharing images and their insights on the event ... but some of the images I have seen have made me wonder. Like you, my attitude is generally one of appreciation whenever anyone shares their quilt with me, in person, at a guild meeting or on their blog. And I can find something to love about any quilt, new or old, whether it's the design, the use of color or beautiful craftsmanship. But, given the thousands of quilts that were submitted to QuiltCon, I do wonder why the jurors for this (inter)national exhibit weren't able to select quilts with both exceptional Modern design AND good technique for this showcase? And if these quilts did meet that standard, then why are so many nationally known Modern quilters blogging on the topic of justifying what seem to be some poorly made quilts?

    For what it's worth, I can remember a similar flurry of discussion among art quilters, many of who felt that it was unfair for judges to look at the backs of their art quilts in quilt shows because they shouldn't matter and art quilts should be judged differently.

  4. What if your point is not to have perfect points, even quilting, or always tied and buried threads? Would you judge a Gee's Bend quilt the same as you would the picture perfect quilts at the International Quilt Festival? There is a difference between sloppiness, indifference, or a lackadasical attitude and innovation, creativity, and invention. Of course, all is in the eye of the beholder, and one person's trash is another's treasure. For me, if I see a quilt that evokes an emotion, then I'm not all that interested in picking all the technical details apart. If someone sings a moving song with heart and obvious emotion, it doesn't matter if they are Whitney Houston or Celine Dion - if it touches you, you enjoy it. I enjoy my creations, and hopefully other people do, too. In the end, my creations are meant to comfort, provide warmth, and be laid on by dogs. Keepin' it 100! I guess I'm in it for the fun and experience, not the glory or the recognition. Though, those would be nice, too. :) In conclusion, if the judges at QuiltCon were looking for perfection, they might not have had so many spectacularly designed quilts, and I'll take interesting over boring any day. Of course, I am the person who fell asleep at the Houston Symphony (in my defense, it was late at night, dark, and warm, and I was at the back of the auditorium) because they sounded PERFECT, and I might as well have been listening to a recording at home in bed, which is a great idea for the next time I want to hear The Planets by Holst. Venus, the Bringer of Peace, will win that battle with insomnia, trust me!

  5. I was at QuiltCon. My opinions are totally my own. But from what I hear it is shared by a few others.

    I think there is a huge difference between the quilts I would do for cuddling by family and friends and those I would offer up for judging by peers. A lot of the quilts that hung in the auditorium to be donated to the Children's Shelter were stronger in design, quality and workmanship than the ones in the hall that had been juried into the International Show.

    First off, the quilters of Gees Bend said they do not consider themselves or their quilts as Modern. And their quilts were not judged but were simply exhibited.

    I was very surprised to see quilts that would not hang straight winning categories. There were obviously quilts from books, quilts from patterns and quilts that were done in someone's class or in practice for their book. All stated they were original yet I cannot believe that so many people would simultaneously have the same thought. To call their quilts original ideas when they are from patterns I have pinned in my Pinterest account astonished me! I had a big problem with that.

    I am sad to say that many of the quilts in this show had been campaigned in the makers blogs for the last three years or so. I am disappointed in the politics that were obviously involved in the selection of quilts to hang. The "in" names had multiple quilts, I counted up to 5 for one of them who was very verbally so disappointed that ALL of her quilts had not been chosen.

    My thoughts on the Modern Movement is that it is flooded by young 20-30 somethings who all have art degrees and MFAs. They have little or no background in sewing or traditional quilting so they don't have an understanding of workmanship and technique. They have created a psyche that they are bigger and better than traditional quilters because they are all designing their own fabric lines. Some have gathered in groups to publish books with just about every aspect of "modern" quilting covered.

    I chuckle, because just last night I was looking at one such book and about 50% of the designs were just traditional quilts made with their lines of "modern" and solid fabrics.

    In their defense, they don't know because they seem to be unaware of what has come before them. I certainly don't mind wonky but PLEASE bury your threads, sew your binding on adequately, and make your quilts hang properly!

    And if you think I am just blasting the Modern Movement, read this...... I am President of my local Modern Quilt and very interested in the "modern" aspect and art quilts. I am far more modern and art than traditional. But I have spent the last many years learning from better quilters than I and understanding the aspects that make quilts able to withstand a child dragging it around for years; going through many washings and a lot of tears as they face life.

    If the Modern Guild was created to celebrate these few people, it will not continue to stand on its own. It will become just a category in a quilt show. Which is maybe where it should be for a while.

  6. Thanks so much for these three posts. I have so enjoyed them.

    For myself, I "think" I am more of a modern quilter than traditional, in that I love loads of negative space and bright colours, but then, my quilt designs tend to be based on more traditional blocks, albeit altered in some way or other, so am I modern or not I wonder? I do however bury my threads and put proper bindings on!