Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Festival of Quilts

I spent Saturday and Sunday at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC. The LMQG was very lucky to have been offered a gallery space so I spent most of my time there talking to the many many visitors we had.

Sadly it meant I didn't really see much of the rest of the show because I was so knackered I didn't have the energy or brainpower left at the end of the day on Saturday to look at much, but it also meant I didn't have time to spend much either so that was very good for my bank balance.

I got to talk to so many wonderful people and if any of you are stopping by here, thank you so much. I enjoyed talking to you all but it did become a complete blur.

The experience left me thinking about a few things in a lot more detail than I have ever done before and I will address a couple of them here.

What is modern quilt and is there any different really to traditional or contempory quilting?

The answer to that is I don't really know. I found it very hard to define it and I believe the display we had showed such a variety of quilts that they couldn't all be simply lumped into a set of rules and definitions. While there is an aesthetic element to it, I also believe there is a state of mind around it.

Yes, it's about solids and modern prints and negative space and functionality and putting a twist on traditional blocks or not having a block structure at all. However, I'm sure what was being done in the 70's was considered modern to the generation before and likewise going back in time. I remember some of the Victoria quilts at the V&A show had prints that would be snapped up today as designer fabrics they were so bright and funky.

So as a title I've never felt very comfortable with it and that came home to me this weekend why. In another 20 or 30 years what we do will be old hat and the next generation will be wondering why we call what we did "modern".

But I mentioned a state of mind as well - this I think ties into the next question that came up a lot. Why did we form our own guild and not join the established ones?

When I first started quilting I explored my local guilds. Apart from the fact they all had waiting lists, their meeting arrangements didn't suit me. Either they met on weekdays or weekday evenings. Not suitable for someone working full time, especially as I frequently work away from home and stay away all week.

I learned to quilt on the internet and then became part of a quilt community on the internet. Eventfully I want to meet people in the real world as well who shared my passion. Who didn't think it was weird if I stroked a cushion in a shop and who could gets as excited as I did over new prints and designs.

The established guilds near me didn't seem to be offering me the sense of community I was looking for. I went to a show near me which was lovely but I had an experience which put me off. They were asking people to hand piece some 9 patches at a table and I sat down to do one. A very nice lady who was there volunteering told me how I should do it. And I mean it when I say she was nice, but she also assumed that I needed telling and didn't ask me. I knew how to nest my seams, I had learnt it on the internet. It became clear to me that as nice as people were there, I didn't feel I fitted in even if their meeting schedule was suitable for a working woman.

I dont need to attend a guild to be taught things. Apart from some classes at the fat quarterly retreat and some workshops at FOQ I have never been to a class for any craft. I have alway taught myself but the rise of the internet has made it much easier to find new ideas and different techniques.

I have the mindset that there is no right or wrong way to do anything, just the way that works best for me. I love quilting and it is a total passion, but I do it for fun and it would not be fun if I felt there were rules I have to follow.

The LMQG has given me the opportunity to meet people who feel the same way as I do. We use social media to share ideas around the world and also get to stroke fabric together in real life. It's about being part of a community that I feel I fit into.

This has become a lot wordier than I intended so thank you if you are still reading. I wonder what modern quilting means to you and if you are part of a guild what you get from it?


Leanne said...

I tend to totally agree with what you have said. I think my modern quilt guild is struggling a bit as it is not sure what it is supposed to do, but few of the folks there are on line at all. I bet your display was lovely, do you have some photos to share?

Canadian Abroad said...

It was brilliant to see you, and as I told you there - you are looking fabulous. In regards to the modern quilting question, for me it is more doing what you want, how you want, to get the results you want, regardless of the 'rules'. And the community, which most of us found online.

moira said...

I think a lot of us struggle with the word, especially as it is being appropriated and redefined by groups all the time. For me, it's about a more relaxed approach and the lack of quilt police but trying to tie down a definition is to subjective I think. Your stall rocked as do you, obvs.

pennydog said...

I famously don't subscribe to the "modern" ethos, I lean to prefer post-modern or contemporary. But that's by-the-by when it comes to the guilds- I feel the same way as you, it's a retreat of like minded people in most respects. Our values are we love to sew, we enjoy the new fabric ranges that are coming out, we tend to embrace online learning and community, we don't necessarily want to follow the rules of old-time and of course we all love to eat cake and chat...

There are variations on this though, we're all of varying ages, some of us like to use vintage materials, or hate improv and like the traditional blocks. This is why it's hard to define and why I think labels aren't easy.

Poppyprint said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Shevvy! I belong to a traditional guild and a modern guild and love them both for different reasons. I admire the techniques and traditions of quilting and admit that I'm a bit of a technique junky. I want to know how to do stuff so I take loads of workshops. Even after 13 years, I'm always learning new things. I also love the unbridled enthusiasm and un-jaded approach of my friends in the the modern guild. I'm lucky that my traditional guild is super supportive of every kind of quilter and their work. We've got everything from art, contemporary, traditional & modern quilters. I feel quite lucky. I once wrote a blog post called "Old Ladies Know Stuff" that talks about the benefits of hanging out with the experienced gals....but truly you have to find the supportive, open-minded crowd!

Shay said...

Wow – what a thoughtful post. I think the debate over modern vs traditional will be raging long after we have all stopped quilting. I also think modern is almost impossible to define in a way that everyone will agree.
For me – modern quilting is a about using unexpected colours or fabrics in traditional designs , or in new designs. It’s about using different fabrics such as voile. Its about lots of sharp angles and using techniques that weren’t around 100 years ago. (ie glue basting for EPP) Modern quilting is a lot like art – it’s in the eye of the beholder!

Catrin Lewis said...

It was lovely to meet you and to see your work in person!

So much of what you've written above could have come out of my own mouth! I crave to meet up with like minded quilters irl where I won't feel that my technique and imperfections won't be judged but where I can maybe still pick up some advice, alas, the nearest 'modern' quilter I've found online lives around two hours away!

I don't like the label 'modern' either. I walked around on Saturday and was determined to only look at the quilts (and not go shopping). I took pictures of all the quilts that caught my eye. I sat down on Sunday morning looking through my pictures whilst I was waiting for the show to open and realised that I had taken an equal number of pictures from the traditional, contemporary, art and other categories! I seem to have a soft spot for one block quilts, anything with a lot of negative space and the oldest kind of quilt there is - the whole cloth! It really helped me find 'my' style, and I'm not sorry if that doesn't fit neatly into some little tick box!

mumasu said...

Shevvy you seem to have plucked the thoughts from my head and articulated them on the screen :)

Anonymous said...

love this post Shevvy! I'm relatively new to the Quilting game, but I really love the creativity outlet in can provide in so many senses! you are right a lot of the moderness in it is through the communication aspect - also i learnt primarily through one taught class then youtube all the way ! its amazing! when I went to the quilt museum in York I was blown away how modern some quilts were that were over 100 years old! congrats on finishing your counselling degree I'm also in the same field and I know how tough it can be a lot of hard work indeed!!! love all your quilting and blogging too :) Grace xxx