Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quilting Arts & the role of non-traditional quilt projects

One of my favorite reads is Quilting Arts Magazine, as it reflects my more recent interest in bold color combinations and non-traditional quilt patterns.

Don't get me wrong ~ I appreciate the intricacies of a Baltimore Album Quilt. Be sure to see the online quilt exhibit at the Maryland Historical Society website with some prime examples.

Maybe I'm just not that disciplined anymore. (Was I ever?!) Or maybe I am just spreading wings to embrace non-traditional fiber art. For years I've hid behind my old-fashioned black-and-white DearMYRTLE logo, but I recently updated my blog to include a wacky background design.

I still see quilts as precious family heirlooms - evidence of the creativity and skill of the women (and some few men) who quilted.

When it comes to my own work of late, I tend to play around with color. I am influenced by the trip to Alaska this spring where the Native totems offer bold design elements in my sketch book. Batik fabrics intrigue me.

Where once I used to piece by machine and hand quilt, I am now poised to do more machine quilting with the new Pfaff Quilt Expressions my husband purchased for me last fall. It is so much easier than just lowering the feed dogs on my old Singer. We set up a sewing center in the daylight basement of our home out west, complete with a 4x6 foot, 38-inch high cutting table. (Read that no more back aches!) We also created a sunny, bright upstairs sewing room at our townhouse in Virginia. Gordon had to remove a few battlefield maps, and he even understood I'd prefer the shocking pink office chair to a black leather model from Staples for my new sewing space.

I never cease to be amazed by the gorgeous quilts our ancestresses created, totally by hand in less than ideal conditions. I've been reading a book about Appalachian quilters, and have seen pictures of their quilt frames suspended from the ceiling. Their projects could be rolled up when not in use. Isn't setting up space for quilting projects a big problem for any generation?

High tech for previous generations brought the advent of a foot-pedal sewing machine. But no amount of mechanization can replace the creativity of color choices and patterns.

The concept of quilting bees is something I believe all to many 21st century quilters may be overlooking. Women getting together ~ quilting, talking, sharing ~ all great elements offered by quilting bees. Historically quilting bees were a socially accepted break from routine. Sharing squares, making quilts for church fund-raisers and wedding presents -- so much of a woman's social life revolved around this creative artistic outlet.

Maybe the enthusiasm to be together quilting -- even if virtually -- is why the Genea-Quilters Facebook page and this blog have become so popular in just two weeks of existence.

So what are the driving forces behind your quilt work?