Un-multi-tasking

Breaking down barriers.

Warning: Be prepared for sweeping generalizations and oversimplification:
It is amazing to me how divided the quilt world is and how many barriers we erect to keep out those that do not exactly fit in with our view of what quilting is and should be. Count me as one of the most guilty.

Detail of a quilt by Sharon Schamber
Camp 1-there are the traditional quilters- those that do beautiful more traditional work- lots of hand work, complicated stitching patterns, more conservative designs... and yes I know I am stereotyping here. In my little corner of quilting we often refer to them as bowing to the quilt police since they are very attentive and bound up with technical details. Perhaps we refer to the work they are doing as more akin to our grandmother's quilts- meant for a bed and not for a wall. In my own prejudiced view I see this camp occupying quilt shows I would never deign to enter. And the hordes of quilting magazines I see at sewing stores seem to be focused at this segment of the quilting world. And many of them simply can not understand the viewpoint and in some cases sloppiness of Camp 2.


Quilt by Nancy Crow
Camp 2- the art quilters- those that see quilting as an art form- not meant for a bed- perhaps improvisational, perhaps surface design,  painted or distressed, or manipulated in some manner. And I guess I hang with this group the most. We do not necessarily fret about hidden threads, or stitches per inch, and in fact we have been known to look at those who are concerned with the minute details as perhaps lacking in artistic sensibilities. That is not to say that we do not care about craftsmanship and technique, but that is not all that we prize. We often make sure that anyone we talk to knows that we most certainly do not do bed quilts- and our work does not look anything like grandmas.

Quilt by Denyse Schmidt
Camp 3-And of course, the modern quilt movement which is somewhere in between the two camps above but certainly much younger. There is an exuberance for color and form and simplicity, and an energy that seems to come with youth. Many people in Camps 1 and 2 feel threatened or dismissive of Camp 3.There are endless online discussions pitting Modern Quilting against Art Quilts against Traditional Quilts. And the crazy thing is that we have divided into camps forgetting how much we can learn from one and another. And as I said before, I count myself among the guilty.

Until two weeks ago. The first step in my re-education came in a slide show that Carol Soderlund presented in class showcasing some of the work in the AQS show in Houston. Well, forget the fact that it never ever occurred to me to go to a show like that- indeed any traditional quilt show- but I was astounded by the craftsmanship that I saw in the samples she posted. While the design and patterns may not resonate with my more contemporary sensibilities, no one can question the sublime craftsmanship.
Step two in my re-education: I have been canvassing everyone I know to find out different ways to bind and press quilts. Well in my stupidity, yes stupidity, I never once thought about looking to those quilters that revel in technique as well as design. Luckily someone suggested that I look at the tutorials of sharonschamber.com. And boy oh boy did I learn a lot. I stayed glued to her Youtube channel for several hours one night, and learned more about how to get a quilt to lay flat or tricks for binding than I ever knew possible. For instance, who knew that spray starch and Elmers Glue could help tame wavy lines.... I did not, and by the way, they do!
Notice the Elmers Glue and Spray start on the window sill! By the way- the quilt edges are as flat as a pancake now! Victory!
I am not sure if these divisions will ever break down, but I know that my prejudiced view certainly prevented me from accessing really valuable information that will make my art much better. That will not happen again.