First, all did not go as planned. With QuiltConWest being held practically in my backyard, I thought I would be there all four days even though I was only taking a class on Saturday. Cue a kid home all week with the flu and another who broke her wrist, I was just lucky that I made it to my class! It also meant that I had a very limited time to enjoy the show, but here is what I have to say about it.
In general, it was awesome!
There is a special atmosphere at QuiltCon that I have not experienced at other quilt shows. It is hard to describe, but it feels "inclusive". Whether you are there to take a class or just stroll around the show, the people around you are happy that you are there. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or expert, a traditional quilter or artist; you are there to share the experience and there is a welcoming vibe. I am a bit introverted, but I had no trouble striking up conversations with the people sitting next to me in class, the lady who checked my badge to let me into the show, even the girl who walked near me on my way back to the parking garage. Friendliness and commonality abound.
Now that doesn't mean that QuiltCon was without controversy. I heard plenty of scuttlebutt about the Best in Show quilt (You can view it HERE), and several of the quilts with political messages. With regard to the Best in Show quilt, it is an example of several of the design elements that the Modern Guild appreciates, like improvisational piecing, minimal design, negative space, asymmetry, and texture. While I thought there were other quilts that were more eye catching, "My Brother's Jeans" does exemplify the modern quilting design aesthetic.
As for the quilts with the political messages, I have mixed feelings. While it is comforting to know that these quilts have a place that they can be shown and accepted, I worry that 1) the artists' work is actually getting less credit because it might be viewed that their "quilt just got in because of the political message" instead of being appreciated for its design and workmanship, and 2) it makes me question where the modern guild will draw the line on future politically motivated designs. We all know that there are multiple sides to every opinion: how will the guild decide who's opinion should be showcased.
|"The One for Eric" by Chawne Kimber of Easton, Pennsylvania. This quilt won 1st place in the Improvisation category.|
What am I talking about?? Several of the quilt designs were about gun violence and some had strong anti-racial messaging; well, not just anti-racial, but also a bit of police brutality undertones. I would hope anti-racism is a message we can all agree on and get behind. BUT let's choose another political debate: abortion. What if.....a quilt is designed well, with all the typical "modern" aesthetics and superior workmanship, but has a strong pro-choice or pro-life message. Clearly, there will be plenty of people who are on the other side of this debate that would be offended. But where will the guild draw the line if the quilts are otherwise "show worthy"?
Just something to think about. I have been thinking about it quite a bit, and that should be the goal of art, right?
There was additional whispering about the winner of the Best Machine Quilting Framed category. I am not sure if it is really scuttlebutt, instead more of an open question. The quilt was pieced by the entrant, Molli Sparkles, and quilted by Jane Davidson of Want it, Need it, Quilt! Now Molli Sparkles got the prize, but it was for the quilting.....so who should be getting the award?? I hope Molli shares. It seems fair in this case. What do you think?
What else stands out about my experience at QuiltCon? As I have said in the past about QuiltCon, I like leaving the show feeling motivated and inspired to start working on new quilts right away. In the big picture of quilting, I am a novice. Sometimes when I go to the more traditional shows and look at the winning quilts, I leave feeling inferior. I know my skills are not good enough to be judged in, let alone win, at a big traditional show. And that is OK! I am happy where I am, making the quilts I make. When I leave a show like QuiltCon though, I've seen a lot of quilts that have Something in them that I CAN do. Whether it be a particular block that I have made, or a walking foot quilting design that I can do. I leave the show thinking that I could make something similar. And that makes me feel good.
Yeah, yeah, Jen, but can you show us some more pictures??
If you are on social media, especially Instagram, you have probably seen lots of pictures of some of the more popular
I think this quilt, called "Cut & Keep" by Gina Pina of Austin, Texas, is freaking brilliant! Yet, I didn't hear anyone calling it that.
Talk about innovative! To get that look, she put darker fabric "words" beneath the pieced top and quilted all the layers together. Who would have thought of doing that?? I just think it is brilliant. As you can see, she received 3rd place in the Applique category.
And, if you are wondering (because I was interested in knowing), this quilt was for sale for $333, and it sold. It seemed to me that $350 and under was the magic pricing for the quilts that sold at QuiltCon. I will try to share some of the pricing of other quilts as I go along.
My friend, Heidi, from Buttons and Butterflies, pointed this quilt out to me. It is called "The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts" by Cassandra Beaver of Urbana, Ohio.
Not only do I love the perfect circle she created, but I really love how she used colored thread to extend the design into the negative space. Here is a close up.
Isn't that just neat?
And finally for today, "Riverfire" by the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild.
This was part of the charity quilt exhibit and most of it is improvisational piecing (I say "most" because some of the cityscape blocks look extremely similar).
Just look at the fireworks sections!
I love how the quilting mimics real fireworks. So cool!
That's it for today. I hope you will come back on Sunday to see more of the show.
As always, thanks for reading!