Oh what joy The Festival of Quilts was! I was so glad I went on Saturday. It was a lovely day. I drove over to Birmingham with my daughter-in-law, Nicola from Market Harborough – and easy drive. So many gorgeous quilts – although by the time we left and now that I have had a chance to see some coment about it, I obviously missed some super ones that were in special areas. Not good news for the punters but it didn’t seem that busy, either. I came across some of my previous students. What did I like best? The Tentmakers of Cairo – such gorgeous work and so meticulously done and a delight to speak with the men making them.
Some months/a year ago I wrote about What is Modern Quilting and did struggle a bit to define it – other than saying that is an approach to quilting that includes traditional blocks but maybe with tweeks to them (improv); often using solid fabrics; simple approaches; not necessarily symmetrical; and in some way easier without the discipline traditional patchwork/quilting requires. Many would argue with me on that but the British is what I know – Many of the quilts at the Festival, I felt were modern or/and arty. There were fewer traditionally blocked quilts but many with gorgeous free-motion quilting. Most of them I really enjoyed.
I thought you would be interested in the comments by Luana Lubin – who is a well-known fabric designer and quilt shop owner (www.equilter.com). I find her newsletter really informative when it comes to discussions about fabric and like their sales as well. Sign up for a newsletter and you also will be bitten. In any event, she came to The Festival of Quilts last week and here is what she said about modern quilting!
“Tonight I am at a hotel near the Birmingham UK airport, and when you read this I’ll be flying home after my week as a sponsor and speaker at the Festival of Quilts. I am thinking about trends in quilting – UK/Europe compared to the US.
When I speak to quilters here, most of them really don’t understand the Modern Quilt movement yet. The few that have seen the modern quilts – mostly in magazines – are interested but not clear what it’s all about. In the exhibit there were lots of traditional quilts, lots of embellished quilts, and several with 3-dimensional elements or painterly treatments pointing toward more of a fine arts perspective.
In the image above I’ve created a collage, with Susan Atkinson’s graphic “After Wright” quilt (from the Festival of Quilts) which is obviously inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, with several modern geometric fabrics that we have in stock right now. In case you have a hard time distinguishing the difference – her quilt detail photo is in the lower right hand corner of the collage above.
Although I did not see a clear quilt design trend emerging from this show, I did get a sense that it was a boiling pot of energy, looking for a new direction. Maybe a European version of modern quilting will emerge. Perhaps the painterly/abstract/geometric contemporary fiber arts will develop more and emerge as more of a mainstream quilt trend. There was a lot of interest in Luke Haynes giant portrait quilts, and Lea McComas’ threadpainting techniques. Whatever happens, I would say that it is a very pregnant time for the creative quilters of the UK and European quilt scene! I can’t wait to see what happens next! (Photos coming in the next week.) ”
But I would like to know what she thinks Modern Quilting is – her link sends us to geometrically designed fabrics, not to quilts but they are asmall part of what Modern Quilting is.
Below is what the Modern Quilt Guild, U.S. says they are:
“We define modern quilts as quilts that are functional, include bold colors, and are inspired by modern design. Minimalism, asymmetry expansive negative space, and alternate grid work are often a part of modern quilt compositions, as are improvisational piecing and solid fabrics.”
But I really think they are more than that!
Here is a quote from Angela Pingel who went through a similar questioning about Modern Quilting two years ago (I’m a slow learner):
“Modern quilting is a new twist on the traditional art of quilting. This may mean something as simple as using a traditional quilt block and updating it in a fresh, fun new way. That includes using modern fabrics, modifying the block arrangement or even the scale of the block. The piecing could be improvisational and wonky, or it could be very exact and measured, following a pattern or creating your won. The quilting could be traditional stippling, clean straight lines, or a very “free” have fun and quilt-as-you-go style. Fabrics could be upcycled vintage sheets, custom digital printed fabric, a yummy selection from one of the new modern fabric designers, or an old fabric from an ever growing stash.
Modern quilting is sometimes difficult to define because in many ways the definition is as individual as the quilter – changing from quilter to quilter. In addition to reflecting the individual personality and personal style of the quilter, it also reflects the current aesthetic of the day.
Modern quilting is also about the attitude and the approach that modern quilters take. It respects the amazing artistry and talent of the tradition of quilting, while allowing the quilter to challenge the “rules”. In fact, if there were one rule in modern quilting, it would be that there are no rules.
The concept of modern quilting is not meant to divide or segregate. It is meant to welcome new quilters, of all ages, to the world of quilting in a style that they can relate to. In many ways, modern quilting takes us back to the basics of the early quilters, when women of the day used the colors and styles of their time to express themselves creatively”
So I can feel comfortable about the above but it is Not the official definition – it is an old definition from 2011. So where do we go from here? Your turn: