Saturday, May 5, 2007

Material Matters: Tradition & Art

There is always an inner struggle going on inside of me.
Just who am I ? Artistically speaking I mean!
Traditional Quilter. Art Quilter. Artist. Fiber Artist.
Dye painter. Knitter. Felter. Just plain Fiber crazy !

All of these words could be me. I began fiber life as a weaver and spinner - but soon found the material path to quilts. An exhibition of Amish Quilts at the Whitney Museum in New York City opened the quilting doors of perception for me and to this day I am still in awe of Amish quilts. Talk about a-r-t-i-s-t-s !! What my style is just depends on my frame of mind I suppose. For many years I was, simply and happily enough, a quilter. Just a 'cutter upper and putter back together' of materials. There have been times when I did not do that all that well either ! Over the years I grew to consider myself more adept -certainly -and then I began to consider myself an artistic quilter (whatever that means!) but not an "art" quilter or an artist. I have never tended to be a person who "stays within the lines" (much to one of my parent's chagrin I think!). One of my favorite buttons of the 70's era was different colored circles and some off kilter script that said "get off dead center" . I have searched for one of those old buttons and can't find one..should have kept the one I had way back then ! That's sort of the way I quilt. I tend to eschew perfection and embrace "character" (as my dear friend Lauren likes to say).

I find comfort and peace in traditional quilts. I love the orderliness of the patterns, and the comforting textures of the cloth. I think traditional bed quilts really do make you feel better and allow you to have sweeter dreams when you sleep under them. The picture above is of a Double Wedding Ring that I made in batiks - I had to make at least one DWR since it is a favored pattern of mine. I used a delightful wool batting and a batik backing . It vibrates warmth.

Below is another of my favorite 'traditional' bed quilts. I have a thirties thing going on I guess. I love the patterns, fabrics and colors of that era. They speak to me of the joys that can be discovered in the midst of hard times. This quilt started life as some orphan blocks that I got on Ebay. I constructed more of the rings from my stash of vintage fabrics, hand appliqued them onto crisp Kona cotton and then sashed them with a vibrant red Kona and a whimsical thirties reproduction print of tea cups, which I also used for the backing. This is an over sized Queen sized quilt and I love just looking at it... and sleeping under it.

I think I'll continue on this train of thought - so stay tuned for updates to the burning question : "...just what kind of a quilter am I really ..."- and have I really stayed off center ?


Diane said...

I wonder whether you (or I, as I relate to your ponderings) have to choose? Folks are awfully quick to pin labels on people, and maybe the trick is to just enjoy making traditional quilts, wild art quilts, and everything in between.

Marcy said...

I LOVE your Dresden Plate -- I always admire appliqued quilts because I'm just not that good at it, due to an arthritic thumb. I like to plan, choose, cut, sew and press the tops -- and that's it. I have to push myself to finish each one, otherwise I would have a stack as tall as me!!

As for what kind of quilter you may be, I think just the fact that you quilt is explanation enough -- don't pin labels, pin quilts!! ;)

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