Monday, September 8, 2014

My thoughts on the AQS Grand Rapids show Part III and my version of Krista's beautiful and fun new pattern

All the Colours

The working name for this quilt is All the Colours. It is my version of Krista (Poppyprint)'s excellent new pattern Chess on the Steps - you can go here to see her quilt, it is worth it, I'll wait. Currently Krista's pattern which uses her fast and fun improv technique is the September Quilt of the Month which is a monthly pattern series that comes to Modern Quilt Guild members. Well worth the membership fee for these patterns alone.

That piece in the photo above is about 25" square so I have added some coloured borders to make her about 46" square so she can be a nice baby quilt. I just finished quilting her tonight and will be deciding on a border next. I'll show you more about her soon.

I want to finish my series of posts about attending the American Quilter's Society Grand Rapids show in August. You can see my posts showing off many of the beautiful modern quilts here and here.

I had a great time going to this show. I was able to take two long arm quilting classes, in which I learned many things about being a better long arm quilter. I had plenty of time to carefully look at the exhibits and the show of quilts. I visited all the vendors two or three times. I had very sore feet all the time. People were friendly and the food was also great. But. You know there is a but, right?

But, I now understand why the Modern Quilt Guild exists much more than I did before. Despite all the talent, quilts, and nice people, there was very little at this huge quilt show for me. I scoured the vendors and bought only two small packs of hand dyed fabrics in alternative substrates. There were only maybe a couple of vendors with more modern fabrics, but I had the prints they had on hand. And I did spend a lot of money on the best, fanciest cutting table ever, which will arrive at my house in another month or so and then I can show you why I am so excited about it. Oh, and I met the nicest women selling environmentally friendly jewelry cleaner which I also bought.

But mostly the vendors, and the show, were full of tea dyed, muted colours  in fabrics and quilts. It felt very heavy to me, oppressively so. When I saw a quilt with bright white or even just bright colours in it, or a lot of negative space, I could feel the weight lift. Now I finally understand better why so many modern quilts have loads of white negative space, or even coloured negative space.

One last thing I wanted to share, and I have thought a lot about how I share this. It seems to me that a lot of these folks don't get the modern quilters at all.

For example, in my long arm classes, modern quilts were referred to as "simple" and "simplistic" and not as a compliment on their minimalism. There was a clear view that modern quilts were ill constructed and likely to have their pressed open seams split. It was clearly stated in one class - a class aimed at teaching modern quilting motifs - that modern quilts were so simple that it was necessary for them to be "quilted to death" to make them eligible for prizes at quilt shows. It was also said that such simple quilts could not deserve prizes otherwise, as they could be pieced in such little time.

Worse, it was suggested that to quilt modern quilts, one should divide up the quilt into random segments and use different quilting motifs for each. When asked (by me), that instructor said there was no need to give any consideration to what the piecer was trying to achieve when dividing up the quilt as the piecer likely did not know what she wanted for the quilting. The piecer was looking to the quilter to just "do her best" to make the modern quilt into something special. I was shocked and I have to admit that I did not quarrel with that instructor, I just did not ask any more questions. I needed time to think.

I took this as just a few people's opinions and I still learned many things. But I felt like a spy. I thought a lot. I now take away from this experience that modern quilters need to get out and share what we do more with these traditional quilters. Those quilters and their teachers don't read blogs, and surely don't instagram or twitter - at least not with the vast online community that I share with.

So, in my view, we need to show them more of what we do, by entering contests, attending the shows, asking questions, teaching classes, etc. Otherwise these ill informed opinions are all that students and visitors to these kinds of shows will see.

I don't think we change things by staying home.


So, my quilt, Sunset is probably being hung up tomorrow morning (or maybe she was hung today) at the AQS Chattanooga show, where she is entered in the Modern Wall Quilt category. They will release the winners on Wednesday morning online, so I will be checking early to see how she does. This quilt won the Modern category at the Canadian National Juried Show in June.

Whether or not she wins a ribbon at Chattanooga, Sunset will be hanging for all the quilters visiting the show to see. Maybe she will inspire a quilter or two to try modern quilting. Maybe someone will find her a relief from the weight of the sepia tinge to so much of the traditional quilts and their fabrics. If you are at that show, I would love it if you would send me a photo of Sunset as she looks at the show.

I like to explore many kinds of quilting and to learn all I can.  But, no matter how much time I may spend working on traditional quilts or designs, I am now absolutely certain of this: I am a modern quilter. I do know what that means and what it does not include. I have no doubts at all.