Un-multi-tasking

Sticking in my craw

An offhanded comment on a listsserve has my stomach twisting. I have seen this kind of comment before in a number of places and it is more common than I would like to think.
The subject usually surrounds finishing techniques- burying threads, backings, sleeves- the kind of tasks that make many of us shudder but we know we have to buck up and complete. I read about this kind of subject since I am always looking for better ways to finish my work- to make it look better, to be more efficient, to take less effort. And I spend a fair amount of time making sure the backs of my pieces look professional. I do bury most of my threads and my corner mitres come from years of tailoring. I hate making sleeves- but I always make sure they are properly constructed and finished.
So what's the big deal here? Reading a posting recently a comment was made to the effect,"Finish your back anyway you want. You are an artist. It's art and you can do whatever you want."
On the face of that I understand that this may be a simple reaction to the old strictures that require a certain number of stitches per inch, a specific kind of mitre, etc. We fondly refer to these rules as the "quilt police". But the inference here is that just because we may not agree with all the "rules" and simply because we may refer to ourselves as "artists" and not "quilters" it gives us permission to do whatever we want- and craftsmanship is allowed to be poo-poohed.
Well, I for one do not agree. I think every artist should take a certain amount of pride in the quality of presentation. I rarely see a piece of art in a gallery with a poorly stretched canvas. I have not seen blown glass with seams (unless it is intentional) or sculpture that is wobbly and unbalanced. While there may deliberate actions that are taken to make a piece look a certain way, it is not out of laziness, or lack of skill. It is out of intent.
So when I hear a comment that says that an artist does not have to fuss with finishing- it bothers me. I think we often fight to be considered more than bed coverings, and some of that goes to impeccable craftsmanship. Yes, I know about all of the quilt competitions that may focus only on technique and not on concept or composition- and that is an extreme I also find untenable.
There has to be a happy medium- and yes, that is for the artist to decide. In my case, I bury most threads- except for the 1/4" tails left by the automatic knot on my Bernina. In that case my poor fingers can no longer handle burying hundreds of these and if the color thread I am using is not visible on the backing, I give myself a break. I want the level of craftsmanship on my pieces to be high, so I struggle with my bindings until they are flat, and I take time to make professional labels.
Ok. Now, that I have gotten that off my chest I can return to burying knots on a 90" x 90" beast.
by JudyK