Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A modern year end

Almost a year ago, I ordered some screen printed scraps from Karen Lewis.

I immediately sorted some of them into what I thought would be the makings of a good quilt.

But then I got busy with other things and it got put to one side.

A couple of weeks ago, I revisited my idea and decided to add some more fabric in. As you can see, they are only small scraps of fabric so it seemed to me, the best way to show them off, would be to attempt to make a modern(ish) quilt.

I completely took as my 'pattern', the design off one of Karen's prints.

And off I went.

I made it smallish because well, I wasn't really enjoying it that much.

At one point I was in danger of falling off my chair with flat out boredom.
There is just something about a limited colour scheme and great wodges of plain fabric that just don't do it for me.

I want a personality in a quilt and I just felt this was a bit flat, clinical and completely not me.

Colour is off in this one - the vagaries of night time flash photography
However, finisher that I am, I powered on and last night sewed the binding down.

We woke up this morning to one of those rarities - a perfect winter's day, which meant my little bit of modern was going public.

So as it was my idea, I got to do the long walk down the quay.

Which therefore meant I was not in control of the all important art direction.

Errr hello, camera on quilt please

Closer would be better if you wouldn't mind

Thank you.

And the back.

I don't dislike it but I'm not in love with it either.

It was a useful exercise in trying something different but that was it.

I shall continue to make quilts that to me are exciting, visually stimulating and that use a ton of prints.

Roll on 2015 -  may you walk to the beat of your own drum.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Being modern my way

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy from Material Obsession in person and came away with not only feeling inspired but some of the fabric from her first line.

If I were to make a Desert Island Discs of top quilt blogs which inspire and excite me on a regular basis, then hers would be in there. I completely love the quilts she and those around her produce,  for their individuality, for being that little bit different. But does that make them modern? More on that later.

I chose this feature fabric just because.

Deciding to feature large areas of one fabric in a quilt are slightly outside my comfort zone.

I like being outside my comfort zone.

And I wanted to create a scrappy quilt with a limited scrappy colour zone and these are not normally colours I'd either gravitate towards, nor put together.

So, game on.

I made a 60 degree triangle shape around the bird to surround it all. In the process that meant I couldn't cut the same sized shape from all the birds and remedied this by cutting the remainder of the birds out individually and applique them to solid fabric (yes, I used solid fabric. More on that later).

I also took some of the trailing leaves, cut those out individually and applique them to the solid triangles. All the applique pieces have been sewn in place with a layer of batting behind them so that, in theory,when I come to layer the quilt top with batting and backing and then quilt it, the applique pieces will pop out some more.

And this is what I have ended up with.

Now a couple of days ago I posted a screen grab on Instagram of my 'rejection' confirmation for this quilt which I had submitted to QuiltCon.

It was very much a last minute decision to enter and I was swayed more than anything by the fabulous quilting done on it by Krista Withers - she'll be teaching at QuiltCon next year by the way.

I kind of knew I was on a wing and a prayer with this one because it doesn't fit many of the Modern Quilt Guild's definitions of what it believes modern quilting to be, namely:

  • graphic areas of solid colour
  • improvisational piecing
  • minimalism
  • expansive negative space

So when I got the 'rejection' email from QuiltCon I wasn't surprised and I put it up on Instagram more as a tongue in cheek response to those who were posting screen grabs of their 'acceptance' emails. I didn't take the 'rejection' personally, had a bit of a chuckle to myself, fired off some flippant responses to those who commented and chalked the whole thing up to all part of life's rich tapestry. (Which would be made up of lots of prints btw, not solids).

But then the whole QuiltCon reject/accept thing kind of gained momentum on social media and people started emailing me about it and and blog posts were appearing and suddenly the debate had a life of its own.

Having been at the receiving end of the QuiltCon experience before I have broad enough shoulders to know everyone is feeling their way along a new path and are doing their best. I actually don't have a problem with who gets in and who doesn't. That's life. Latifah has an excellent post Former QuiltCon Juror Tells All that is well worth a read. My only small comment on this would be I didn't like how you couldn't actually enter your quilt into the category you had in mind - in my case it was 'Modern Traditionalism.' Seemed a bit odd but open to hearing why.

However, for what it's worth, my own personal points are:

  • If you're paying to be considered to enter a quilt competition and you are not accepted, would it not be possible to at least have a one or two line explanation? I know a comment has been made on Latifah's post that it is not industry practice to explain why something has not been accepted. However, we're talking about a Guild which has only been formed within the last few years with a definition of modern quilting which many people struggle to either accept/get their heads round. I was fortunate in that I didn't make my quilt specifically to enter QuiltCon although a lot of people did. How are those people supposed to know how to move forward if they don't know what it is about their quilts that wasn't 'modern' enough? I realise 'modern' is subjective so were the decisions to not accept those quilts that weren't accepted based solely on gut instinct or were there criteria  that had to be fulfilled? You might not like/agree with the feedback but at least you know where you stand. The MQG could add the caveat 'no correspondence will be entered into' to stop any ping ponging of emails. At least people will know why they are throwing their toys out the pram. 

  • why does a quilt need to have 'graphic areas of solid colour' to be considered modern? Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner are two fabric designers who spring to mind who excel at designing loud, blowsy, stunning fabric designs and both are/have been involved lecturing at QuiltCon. Would a quilt chocked full to the gunnels with their fabrics be considered 'modern'? Ditto some of the instructors for QuiltCon next year - some of them are not what I would call 'modern' quilters by the MQG definition.  Ditto the online quilt fabric stores favoured by 'modern' quilters, with tag lines such as 'your online source for modern quilting cottons' and 'modern quilting fabrics' where 80% of their stock is prints.

  • When does 'modern' stop being 'modern' and its definition redefined? Freddie Moran was ahead of her time and I still think she produces exciting, different and visually stimulating quilts. Looking at her work though, would she fit within the constraints of today's definition of 'modern'? I mentioned Kathy Doughty/Material Obsession earlier. She's innovative and different...but 'modern'? What about some of the massively popular quilt bloggers out there - by the MQG's definition they're not producing 'modern' quilts yet it is their types of quilts people are drawn to and the makers themselves believe they are 'modern' quilters.
There are so many quilters out there (both established and new) who feel they identify as 'modern' quilters. I myself have recently let my membership lapse of the (British) Quilters Guild because it feels as much me as flower arranging. I know my style is all over the place but I definitely gravitate towards, what I perceive to be, 'modern' quilters. I feel at home with the loose meaning of the word 'modern.'

From what I can see, 'modern' quilting is a broad church of styles. The MQG has chosen a definition so constrictive and narrow it's almost like its own sect. Let's broaden the definition and open ourselves up to a range of 'modern' quilting styles and in the process welcome more people and more ideas.

We'll all be richer for it.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Soy Amado No. 53...and an update

Nice and simple.

All the blocks from one person.

Please note the blue sky.

Photographic evidence to look back on when we revert to the winter default of grey clouds.

My husband paid a visit to the home in Mexico City last week.

The walls are slowly being replastered.

The director of the home thanks everyone who has helped. Apart from brightening up the surroundings considerably, he reiterated how important it has been for the children to have something that belongs to them only and is nothing like any of the other quilts.

It makes them feel individual, special and that they are wanted.

The children have also been busy baking cookies and cakes to sell in the local market, to help raise funds for the home.

And honing their icing skills.

Now, I know over the course of this year, as I have photographed the various Soy Amado quilts around this island idyll I call home, that I have no doubt massively boosted visitor numbers here. Much like when people visit LA and take a bus tour round the 'homes of the stars', I am sure the buses I have seen chugging round the island are on a Soy Amado quilt location tour.

However, before you go booking that trip of a lifetime, I do feel, in the interests of full disclosure, that you should know exactly what you're stepping in to when you arrive here. So, I'm sharing some of the headlines from the local newspaper over the past week or so, just to give you the bigger picture.

Swap 'man' for 'woman' and add in 'in-law' after 'mother' and that could quite well be me

Wasn't me. Honest.

Top legal 'speed' here is 35m.p.h so he was probably hammering along at 41 m.p.h

And my personal favourite:

I'm still looking...

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