24 Jan

Stuff I’ve been Thinking About

Machine quilting lots of straight lines gives one time to think. I’ve been thinking about myself and my work.

I try and I try, but I just can’t seem to machine quilt with the accuracy and evenness of traditional show quilts. Oddly enough, I can sew together hundreds of hexagons and embroidery tiny crewel work, but somehow the lovely feathers and straight lines others can do evade me.

That’s OK because I don’t like to follow patterns or plans either. I really get excited when I start off in a direction and it takes on a life of it’s own.

Although I am trained as a graphic designer, it took me a long time to make the leap from traditional and pictorial quilts to abstract. However, once I made the leap, I didn’t really know why I hadn’t earlier. Sometimes I can just be too linear. To my credit, once pushed or enticed off the straight line, I’m OK with it. And I’m not working completely abstract either, although I now know I could go there if I wanted.

I still really like traditional quilts. I spent my Christmas vacation looking at traditional patterns and making notes of ones that would make lovely bed quilts. I even went so far as to order some fresh new fabric to make one.

I also like “crafting.” Yes, it’s a bad word amongst art quilters, but then again, so is “traditional.” So here I am, with a multiple personality disorder of sorts: quilt artist, traditional quilt maker, and crafter of stuffed mushrooms and tissue covers.

That’s the kind of stuff I’ve been thinking about the last two days while I quilt the Mariner’s Star Lone Compass Beat the Blues very large quilt to be stuffing in my sewing machine.

And now for something completely different: After our quilt retreat last November, R decided that we ought to make a quilt for her friend, our hostess. She chose the “Depression Block” because it was simple, and would be appropriately scrappy for a group to make. Here’s my two blocks that I finished last Tuesday (check that off the to-do list). The rest of the group are also making blocks in spring-y colored batiks.

Depression Block

13 thoughts on “Stuff I’ve been Thinking About

  1. Really pretty blocks. And a really nice idea for a gift. Hopefully you can post a picture of the finished quilt. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Love the blocks for the hostess quilt.

    As for the rest. I don’t know why folks keep trying to pigeonhole themselves. Yes, you are an artist. I’m a teacher. I don’t teach all the time. It isn’t the only facet of my personality. I had another carrer (or the beginnings of one anyway) and god forbid if someone decides to only define me as that. I’d have to apply for a personality transplant. Or some serious drugs. But neither of those career choices limit me to only doing those things. They allowe me to also enjoy quilting and sewing (as my hobby) as well as knitting, reading, etc. They all somehow add up to me — but no single one of them defines me.

    So, yep, you’re all of those things — and a mother, a wife, a daughter, etc., etc., etc. An artist, a traditional quilt maker, a crafter (god forbid), and a well rounded, multi-fasceted individual who brings all of that to the plate when you do create your art. Frankly, you probably bring more to the plate with your willingness to work both inside AND outside of the box than others who rail against terms like crafter. Or traditional quilt maker. Enjoy the diversity of you!

    And remember — it’s ok to talk to yourself. Only worry when you change topics in the middle of the conversation :0).

  3. catching up here, looove the chevron scarves, may just have to learn to knit myself…shudder….another “craft” to learn.. hee hee…. i love all the plans you went through, ABCD, can’t wait to see the fabulous finished product. I have never made a traditional quilt, too scary for me, very much doubt i could sew a straight line or match the points, forget the feathers! and i have to agree with Angela – enjoy the diversity in you! that’s what really makes you special…

  4. Kristin, as to the traditional quilting expertise, I think it is just plain doing it, over and over and over. If you make a lot of traditional quilts then you get to practice more.

    I love the blocks that you showed – the colors are yummy, yummy.

  5. There isn’t any reason why your quilting has to look like anyone else’s. You admire their work, but it evidently “isn’t you”. Find your own niche in quilting. I think quilting styles are personal and you are still developing yours. As for doing traditional quilts, you aren’t doing boring muslin and country rose, you are using exciting fun fabric choices. While working on tradtional quilts and crafts, the ideas will flow for the art pieces. You eat a variety of foods; why can’t you enjoy a variety of colorful projects?

  6. For some reason the blocks remind me of orange sherbet on a sunny day. I really like the palate that you used. There are times when I think my middle name is Cybil, because like you, I enjoy other “media” (tried not to use the c word). What I figured out for myself is that it is the act of creating that floats my boat. Whether it is surface design, knitting, crochet, embroidery … I just plain enjoy the process. Putting a name to what I do just drives me crazy. I guess what I have figured out for me is to follow my heart and just create. The problem is that I need to schedule more time for experiments so that I continue to grow. By the way – I am not one with my sewing machine, so machine quilting is a real struggle for me.
    Cheers.

  7. I tend to think that if I’m working too hard to make something happen it’s a sign that it’s not the journey I should be on. That is not to say that I don’t believe in working hard and practicing and perfecting skills but rather if it’s not enjoyable and it’s not coming easily then it’s probably not the right path.

    I just finished looking at someone’s photos of the 2008 Tokyo Quilt festival on Flickr. Wow, talk about integrating traditional with progressive. Absolutely amazing.

    and on a side note, I can’t believe you’re getting that big quilt through your sewing machine, you’re truly an inspiration!

  8. Think of all the wonderful art work you wouldn’t do if you only dedicated you life to perfecting the straight line.

  9. Those blocks look scrumptious! I really like the color combinations!

    Thinking is good, just to re-evaluate what we do and whether there’s still a good reason for doing it. But even if you made a lovely patchwork box for yourself, it would be restrictive. I’ve seen your work and enjoyed it very much; I’m very impressed by the maching quilting you do, because free-style machine quilting is still scary to me.

    Modern day textile arts are so multi-faceted, and guess what? So are diamonds! That’s what makes them sparkle!

  10. A beautifully balanced and crafted traditional quilt is a wonder in its own right- something I couldn’t do in a pink fit but I can certainly admire. I also know that some of the top prize winners in the best of quilt shows are often made after many painstaking hours to create a piece that will ostensibly be a show stopper and a big prize winner. There are seriously people out there who set out with that motive and that is their perogative. I have also seen a very well known quilter throw her prize that she had won in a quilt show ( but not the top prize) at the judges in disgust that she did not win the coveted Best of Show.

    You enjoy the process, you enjoy the craft side of things- fine craft can be beautiful and inspired as much as fine art. To be a fine craftsman takes patience skill and inspiration- it is no mean feat! To be the best artist you can also requires patience skill and inspiration. My focus here is the words skill and inspiration. Throwing things together is not skillful and it will detract from the final object whether it is craft or art. I believe we all need to work through process and acquire skill to improve our work and art. Working through process also teaches you to look for solutions and much of craft and art is about lateral problem solving.

    Sewing straight lines well it’s like drawing straight lines- some people can do it some can’t. However it is when you can draw that line and it suggest Kristin’s hand then you really have a line!- and from what I have seen of your work- you have it!

  11. I have the same split personality you do when it comes to quilting…I like all sorts of different types. But if the goal is to have fun (which for me it is) then I figure that’s okay. I love those depression blocks! (Makes me want to make some…)

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