Saturday, October 28, 2006

assignment from the teacher

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.


Vodka&DietCoke said...

thanks for the response. It sounds very interesting and creative. I like your version much better :) it kind reminds me of my crocheting, I dont so it often anymore, but when i did I refused to follow the patterns and usually made it up as I went along. It's much more fun that way. I'm glad your daughter is becoming a teacher...I hope she enjoys it as much as I do :-)

Oh and about finding your blog.... I had some time to kill so I kept hitting the next blog button at the top of the page and read the ones that seemed interesting :-).

Vodka&DietCoke said...

You get an A+ on this assignment!! he he

Delta said...

Your profile picture would make a GREAT art quilt!

Anonymous said...

Great explanation. I'd give you an A+, too.

So far, you are the only taker on my art meme, and I probably won't have time to get around to the fun part of making it until next week, but you can email me your address through my profile page.

Have a great weekend! I bet Fondren has a big Halloween celebration. I love that area--such creativity.

Lisa said...

Talk about finding you in a roundabout way. Irony. Irony.

I spent most of the morning trying to find art quilts that I haven't already looked at 20 million times and then playing with fabric. I've also been fighting with blogger in between, having some publishing issues. I decided to look over my site meter, for the heck of it. One person found my blog by doing a search on quilts (I made some mini art quilts), and while I was looking at their search...I found your blog!
And look at this....I'm the 5th person to comment, but even better than that, I have a new great blog to place in my favorites (which I did before I even saw the comments challenge thingey). I'm off to look around a bit more.

Vodka&DietCoke said...

delta I would definately be interested in the art...where do i send you my snail mail address?

Anonymous said...

I sometimes use fabric pieces on paper art, but I don't think that's the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Me again! Being a musician, I thought I would say that I really like that you use a lot of musical stuff on your work.


Delta said...

Thanks to everyone. And Sombra, it's DEFINITELY the same thing as long as you think of it as "mixed media" and not quilts. I think it's just the difference in what base you start with.