Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Type of Quilter Are You?

My favorite quilts are free-pieced out of scraps and strings, orphans and leftover strips. I love making something out of almost nothing and doing so without rules or regulations of any kind, and then giving almost everything I make away. So, I consider myself to be primarily a liberated, charity quilter.

But other quilters often find themselves at odds as to what constitutes their own primary style or focus. Do you see yourself as primarily a traditional quilter, modern or liberated quilter, or perhaps as an artist or art quilter?

I've discovered that stating one's opinion on what type of quilter they are can often lead to active discussions...even some each of us views ourselves, and others, differently than we do ourselves. So, I worked out some potential descriptive categories for "What Type of Quilter Are You?"

Traditional Quilter: You love the history of quilting and the patterns created and carried down through time by our pioneer ancestors and forebears. You tend to use pattern and love the look of traditional quilting above all other forms. Making a "Dear Jane' quilt once in your life is a goal of dedication, perseverance and the love of history,craft, and art form combined. But you might also adore the color values, tradition, and use of style and form in Civil War or Reproduction quilts.

Folk Art Quilter: Folk Art Quilters are often a blend or a fusing of many techniques used by traditional, applique, and art quilters. Utilizing expressive designs and often incorporating muted blending of colors with a predominant use of applique, one thinks of the bright modern, liberated works of Mary Lou Weidman or the rich traditional patterns and heart warming colors of Tonye Phillips. You love the comfy, cozy feel of quilts and quilting, but also have a deep inner need to express that love with characteristic symbols and meaning infused into the very story of the quilts you make.

Liberated Quilter:
Liberated quilters like to see themselves as using the best of two worlds...the traditions of those quilters who have gone before us, and a fun, free-piecing approach to intuitive quilting without following rules or allowing the inner quilt police person to constantly critique or challenge our work. An offset style of folkart quilting in many ways, it tends to incorporate more tone on tone fabrics or very brights. Liberated quilters often include free-pieced letters, and wonky versions of traditional patterns. The liberated stars, wonky churn dashes, strip pieced strings or flip and stitch flowers, animals, birds, and fish often distinguish them from other forms of quilting. Based on Gwen Marston's iconic 1994 book 'Liberated Quiltmaking', with her string quilting and liberated stars and houses, the movement has gone on to embrace Tonya Ricucci's free pieced alphabet letters, asterisks,houses, and stars and Bonnie Hunters more scrappy and fast pieced free piecing of traditional blocks, strings and orphan pieces, as well as developing a variety of techniques and styles among the many individual quilters.

Modern Quilter: Modern quilting is a new twist on the traditional art of quilting, once liberated and twice removed. This may mean something as simple as using a traditional quilt block and updating it in a fresh fun new way, using modern and often dramatic or unusual fabrics, modifying the block arrangement or even the scale of the block. It often uses bars and strips in unique ways where the emphasis is on design as a focus.The piecing could be improvisational and wonky, or it could be very exact and measured, following a pattern or creating your own. It might use a traditional stippling for quilting, clean straight lines, or a very free style. Fabrics could be up-cycled vintage sheets, custom digital printed fabric, or something from one of the modern fabric designers. Usually, there is a predominance of white spaces and fabric for a fresh, modern look such as that personified by Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio or the wonderful artistic combinations of Victoria, at the Silly Boo Dilly.

Art Quilter: Art quilters frequently began as artists in other media who discover a love of fabric or mixed media and use the craft of quilting as a form of multiple self expression. Often seeing the art quilt as the best of all worlds, they allow complete freedom of self-expression outside of any confines of the traditional pieced quilt. Using multi-dimensional techniques and materials, their quilts delight the senses and fill us with the wonder of 'how in the world did they do that' wonder. And I have to add, that amongst the most lovely of art quilts are those with specific value and purpose, such as those inspired by the amazing energy of Ami Simms and her Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative where we can all become art quilters with the creation of small 9"x12" art quilts or 4"x6" postcards and one can also become an art collector by bidding on or buying one of these lovelies;)

Fused Quilter: Sometimes viewed as art quilts, sometimes as fused applique' quilts, the art of fused quilting may have become famous due to the talent and hard work of the likes of the Chicago School of Fusing and Laura Wasilowski, Melody Johnson, and Frieda Anderson. It has developed as its own distinct quilt art form due to the bold use of design elements and color within the exploration of fused fabrics and modern quilted elements, as well as their creative use of music and theatre.

Crazy Quilters: To the Victorians the word "crazy" not only meant wild, but also broken or crazed into splinters. And 'Crazy Quilting' as a textile art is definitely creative and free-flowing by nature. As you add crazy quilt pieces and patches, you will often learn as much about the use of specific stitches or embellishments (and your love and obsession with them), as you will about your 'crazy quilting self' in the process. So, when it comes to self expression and liberation, being crazy is a whole lot of fun.

Kit Quilters: More of a subset to traditional quilters but often branching out into the kit quilting of even the Gees Bend approach, kit quilters may love the look of free pieced quilts but are not always ready to work from scratch and are more comfortable using patterns and quilt tutorials. With an interest in precision and color matching, as well as interest in saving time, they almost always buy their quilting materials pre-packaged or grouped.

Machine Quilter: The quilting culture is a living culture. Machine Quilters are wise to the fact that their ancestors jumped at the chance to use sewing machines to piece their quilts. The become 'machine quilters' when their quilting for others exceeds their piecing and quilting for themselves. They may give a nod to the past with their precise corner matching and the fact that they can finish a king size quilt in a month without the need of a quilting bee. Their ancestors would be amazed but most of us are simply jealous of their ability to be both creative and prolific at the same time.

Hand Quilters: Hand quilters really and truly are a special group of their very own. Those who love and honor this traditional and time consuming art, have to be commended and admired. Facing carpel tunnel, a bible bump and the beginning symptoms of arthritis, they steadfastly quilt away. You can often recognize them from the sheer number of band-aids on their fingers and the intent, somewhat glazed look on their faces. They are as much a 'group' as machine quilters, because while they mostly likely have their own favorite form of quilting...they stand out in their own group as hand quilters, as well. Traditionalists considering hand quilting a necessity, and an almost religious fervor and sense of responsibility to their cherished handiwork. For the true hand quilter, anything else is a cop out to time constraints or laziness ;) And yes, I have a tongue in my cheek and am totally jealous by their tiny stitches!!

My favorite quilt is ALWAYS the one that I'm working on, so I offer it here with a big shout out to the Spring Quilt Festival at Amy's (Park City Girl) Creative Side I had it bookmarked and on my list all week and I'm almost too late to enter in her virtual quilt show. It's always so much fun checking out all of the blogs and seeing the fabulous quilts. I just know I'll find even more categories to add to this post, later!

What Type of Quilter Are You?

shown above:
My last little project out of cast-offs and orphans. A liberated collection of orphan blocks pieced together with a liberated free-pieced back. Symbolizing the layers that build up not only a quilt, but ourselves, as well as we quilt for a sense of individual accomplished and creative expression.