June 11, 2014

Modern Quilting Snippets: artist unidentified

I'm going to ask you how old you would guess this quilt is and I want you to look at the photo and think about it and don't peek. The answer is right underneath so really think about it before you read further.

Pieced Quilt
Artist unidentified
Probably New England
92 x 84 1/2"
Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York
Gift of Cyril Irwin Nelson, 2005.11.11
Photo by Gavin Ashworth

I found this quilt on the American Folk Art Museum's website. I went there because it was the folk art nature of quilting that originally attracted me to quilting and I was preparing a talk on "modern quilting". When I saw how very old the quilt was it really surprised me. 1820? Wow.

There are a lot of striking quilts in the American Folk Art Museum's collection but I decided to show you the one above, possibly because I'm totally self absorbed and it reminded me of a quilt that I had made:

Christina Cameli
Portland, Oregon
65 x 80"

My potential narcissism aside, isn't it interesting to see these two quilts, made at least 170 years apart, having so much in common? The dark background, asymmetry, sense of downward motion, generous use of negative space? It can be easy to talk about recent shifts in the practice of quilting, "not your grandma's quilts" and all that. But here's a quilter who lived and died before my grandmas were even born, and our quilts have a lot to say to each other. I feel a connection to this unknown maker.

What I think is also really intriguing is that this graphic top quilt predates the modern art movement altogether. That is significant, and a point I will come back around to in a future installment. But for now, just think about this quilter, working generations ago, in a world far less abstract than the one you and I inhabit. Somehow she decided on five columns of red diamonds hanging in black space. How? Why? Kind of fun to think about.

June 09, 2014

Go big or something

I started this with a 9 degree wedge ruler:

I don't know how it's going to turn out, which may mean it turns out living in a box instead of being finished. I have a good feeling about it so far though! The plan is 80"x80" and about 5 circles. This is the biggest of the five, about 45" across.

I also got this idea that I should try designing fabric again and I entered a design in the Fabric 8 competition at Spooflower. I would be pretty excited to make the semifinals and if I do you'll definitely know because I'll start begging you to vote for my design (but in a really charming and not embarrassing way. promise.)

I also hear tell that I'm going to be a guest on Mark Lipinski's podcast "Creative Mojo" on Wednesday 12:20-ish pm PST. We've talked on the phone twice and he's already called me "sweetie" a dozen times. I can't wait.