Finally! A random post from someone I don't know, and it involves a question that has been wrestled with through the ages. What is an art quilt? For every person who is asked that question, there is a different answer, but since it's my question this time, you get my answer. Traditional quilting to me involves a lot of 'rules' about the type of fabric (100% cotton) and the type of thread, and some basic piecing techniques, using specific shapes. You can cut a bunch of precise squares and triangles and combine them into traditional, named patterns and make a quilt.
To me, traditional quilting requires a lot of futzing around with templates and point matching and all sorts of other fussy details to basically reproduce the same block over and over. Then you sew enough of them together to make something big enough to cover a bed with.
On the other hand, art quilting has very few rules. It's generally accepted that they have three layers and are sewn together. That's about it. It can be any fabric (or plastic or metal or found object or geegaw or anything else that you can glue/sew/staple/weld/bolt/rivet onto the background)that advances the effect you're looking for. I've used cotton, velvet, burlap, plastic FEMA tarps, linen, old clothing, new clothing, fiberglass window screen and who-knows-what-else on my quilts. I've added beads and buttons and toys and hardware and sticks and stones and guitar picks and doll hats and sea shells and who-knows-what-else as embellishments. I've painted, dyed, discharged, stamped, drawn, printed, rusted, stained and who-knows-what-else to the fabric itself.
Traditional applique involves some very tedious hand-work usually, but mine involve fusible adhesive, glue sticks, liquid fusible, spray adhesive, school paste or anything else (besides pins, I rarely use pins for anything) that holds the applique in place until I stitch it down. Sometimes I stitch it with a satin stitch, wide or narrow, to cover all the cut edges, sometimes a decorative stitch, sometimes a straight stitch at the edge and sometimes I just make my quilting lines all over everything and leave any raw edges to fray as they will. I don't really have any quilting plan on most of mine, unless "move it around while I'm talking or dealing with the dogs or watching tv and hope it comes out ok" counts as a plan. Sometimes my quilting lines follow the shape of something on the quilt, sometimes they don't.
This has been a good exercise because it's forced me to think what the actual differences are, not just be able to recognize one on sight. It is hard for me to define though, since my work is very....I almost said haphazard, but that isn't right....intuitive! That's the word. I rarely have a plan in mind when I start, other than something really basic. The title of a quilt (almost always song titles in my case) or a piece of fabric or a specific element may be the genesis of a design. I have 2 in progress and at least 2 more in my head that involve hands. I use a lot of musical references and themes too. My pieces tend to have great gaps of negative space, with lots of solid color and background fabric showing.
With my own work, I try to evoke a specific "feel" to each piece. The elements aren't always accurate (mixing kokopellis with hieroglyphs isn't accurate) but the final effect is cohesive. At least I hope it is. Other people work towards mastering a specific technique or a specific theme, and some just seem to make the same quilt over and over and over and over.