Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Scuttlebutt and QuiltConWest

Today, I thought I would share a few thoughts about my latest QuiltCon experience.

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.  Hand Quilting by Chawne Kimber, Machine Quilting by Pamela J. Cole
"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 winners quilts.  (Everyone likes a winner.)  However, I noticed several quilts being shared more than others, and I thought I would share some of the quilts that I thought were especially cool, and haven't seen in my feed.  I'll also do a few Inspirational Sunday posts broken down by category so we can have some good discussions.  Here we go....

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.

"Cut & Keep" by Gina Pina of Austin, Texas

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.

"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.


close up of "The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts" by Cassandra Beaver of Urbana, Ohio.

Isn't that just neat?

And finally for today, "Riverfire" by the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild.


"Riverfire" by 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).


close up of "Riverfire" by Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild

Just look at the fireworks sections!

close up of "Riverfire" by Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild

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!


Jen


9 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your Quiltcon experiences. Loved seeing the quilts you selected and also the interesting side points. Certainly an interesting one about the Molli Sparkes quilt. The concept and overall design was decidedly his and I assume the quilter was given some direction but clearly very skilled execution on the quilting front. Maybe such a collaboration needs 2 prizes!

    Like you I love coming away form seeing quilts like this thinking it is accessible even if it's just the inspiration for something within my range of capabilities.

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  2. you have left us with lots to ponder over, not sure I agree with political quilts to me a quilt is made with ove but these are maybe made through anger or am I being harsh if you think this comment is controversial please feel free to delete it.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your photos with us, its nice to see some different quilts. One thing I do know about the Best Machine Quilting Framed category quilt was that Jane was paid for her quilting ($350 AUD) but I definitely think that the quilting on that particular quilt is what makes the quilt.

    In traditional type quilt shows a quilt that has been quilted by someone else (eg commercially quilted and paid for) is usually entered in a Two Person category and what happens with the prize money is between the two quilters, some shows also give two ribbons for Two Person quilts.

    I enjoy looking at the political quilts as they make me think more about the topic, and if I don't like the topic, well I can just walk past that particular quilt.

    I'm looking forward to more of your photos.

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  4. I love your first hander's insight. I chose not to go all the way out to Pasadena for the show, but have a plan to get there next year when it's closer to home. I've heard, too, it feels inclusive. Nice to confirm it. So many things you've said hit home like the feel of political quilts, controversial social subjects, etc. I think it takes real commitment on a quilter's behalf because those are not often pieces that take places, but they do create a real stir. And I agree, Gina Pina's technique looked cool. I love to see someone stretch and show innovation. I feel like the swing over to improv design is becoming passe already, and not everyone completely understands it. That shows.

    Julie @ Pink Doxies

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  5. I love your first hander's insight. I chose not to go all the way out to Pasadena for the show, but have a plan to get there next year when it's closer to home. I've heard, too, it feels inclusive. Nice to confirm it. So many things you've said hit home like the feel of political quilts, controversial social subjects, etc. I think it takes real commitment on a quilter's behalf because those are not often pieces that take places, but they do create a real stir. And I agree, Gina Pina's technique looked cool. I love to see someone stretch and show innovation. I feel like the swing over to improv design is becoming passe already, and not everyone completely understands it. That shows.

    Julie @ Pink Doxies

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  6. Can you explain "the one for Eric" to me? I really like the way it's done with the gradual change in colours and small pieces. I thought it was in relation to depression/sadness but I guess I was wrong. Is it related to something in America and being from Australia I'm completely missing the message?

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    1. Ignore that request. I just found an article that explains what it is about and I'm off to google more information now!

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  7. Thanks for sharing, these are some quilts I had never seen! I love that pink one. I didn't realize quilts were for sale at quiltcon and $350 seems dirt cheap to me. That wouldn't even cover cost of materials! Were there any expensive (>$1000) quilts listed? Any that sold?

    I think political quilts are cool but I want them to get in for their design and execution, not their message. And I do wonder if a quilt with an unpopular message (say, a quilt supporting racist sentiments) would get in, or if they are only bringing in political quilts that have a popular message.

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  8. I don't think we should shrink from political messages in quilts. The history of quilting includes many political quilts. Quilting is not just for one purpose or a single message. It is a craft and an art form. Why should it be immune from deeper meaning and controversy? I'm all for it.

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