My Quilt. My Rules.

Log cabin challenge

For  years, I was a pretty traditional quilter, following all the rules written in the many books I read on the subject. It wasn’t until 2005, when I made my first art quilt, a totally original creation, that I felt the freedom to be ME. Up to this point I hadn’t entered quilt shows, nor had my quilts been judged. My first traditional quilt show was a revelation! Wow! Quilt show judges are very picky! Their comments, while meant to be helpful, sure stifled my creativity. Sorry, judges, but I’m just not a 100% cotton kinda girl!

After much soul searching, I decided to be true to myself and make what pleased ME. I printed a sign in BIG black letters which read “MY QUILT. MY RULES.” and hung it above my sewing machine. To this day, I have tried to live by that motto.

Yes, I am a non-conformist trying to fit into the quilt show judges’ rule book. I admit to being ANAL…to judges, a good thing, but also WACKO which means my work is often misunderstood.

The quilt featured in this post is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The title of the piece, made for a log cabin challenge, is “Pique Pineapples with a Pinch of Pizzazz!” Yes, I made very traditional pineapple blocks of a white pique fabric, a GOOD thing. However, my “Pinch of Pizzazz”, a very glitzy “dance costume” fabric, was a BAD thing to the judge’s eye. The comment “The glitzy fabric is totally inappropriate to the piece.” was, to put it mildly, upsetting. Says who????? It was THE pinch of pizzazz. Gimme a break! Did the judge happen to notice the cut-outs surrounding the piece, not an easy thing to pull off successfully, or was she too blinded by the “inappropriate” glitz?

Like childbirth, the pain of a bad show score is quickly forgotten as I create my next piece. I have come to the realization that the viewers’ reaction to my work is far more relevant than any judge’s. There is nothing I enjoy more than anonymously standing off to the side of one of my show pieces and listening to the viewers comments. Thankfully, some “get it”, which is always a thrill, and, some don’t. Oh, well, win a few, lose a few. Life goes on.

The Birch Bark Experiment

Real birch bark twig frame

As a fiber artist whose work is always original, most of my pieces are totally experimental. In my head, my ideas always work beautifully. In reality, some do and some don’t. Never discouraged to the point of giving up, if one idea fails miserably, there is always another to take its place. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

After visiting the Adirondack Museum and viewing their collection of birch bark twig frames, I thought such a frame would be the perfect compliment to the Fall lake scene I had just completed. Sounds simple, right? Not if you want to make it on a sewing machine! After giving the idea a lot of thought, mostly in the middle of the night, I decided to give it a try. Through much trial and error, I found that, if peeled away in very thin sheets, birch bark harvested from dead trees could indeed be sewn on my trusty “never say die” sewing machine.

Having conquered the birch bark, it was now time to make the twigs that would decorate the frame. The solution, a mottled brown fabric cut into bias strips and sewn into tubes, then filled with cord. To give the illusion of nail heads, I attached the twigs to the bark frame with grey French knots. Success!

TAA! DAA! My Adirondack Twig Frame!

Depicting Frenetic

Since my C L I C K Series has proven to be popular with the viewing public, I knew another piece was in my future. Looking for inspiration, I went digging through two of my fabric bins, one marked “Glitz” and the other “Sparkle.” I had a vision. I would fill a large circle with my most busy fabrics…a collage of shapes, color, pattern, lots of sparkle. My challenge: to depict today’s world as seen through the eyes of this septuagenarian.

Coming from my “Richie Cunningham Happy Days” world, how could I portray the whirling, frenetic insanity thatCKICK III Now I Long for Yesterday CKICK III Now I Long for Yesterday 011 is life today? 24/7 flashes of news, some good, mostly bad…disaster of the day, the week, the month. Quickly forgotten. On to the next. Social media sharing way too much information. Everyone’s raw reality. Nothing sacred, everything exposed. Constantly changing technology moving too fast for anyone to keep up.

Cut shapes, more shapes, more color, more pattern, more sparkle, movement, more movement. Enough? Never enough. Hubby asks “Isn’t this piece way too busy?” YES! Got it!

Flip side…70’s scarf, saved for someday, spelling LOVE. Add PEACE and UNDERSTANDING. Fasteners on, now frame it. Unlike the world, the center is reversible. Oh, that life could be so simple. C.L.I.C.K III Now I Long for Yesterday.

VQF Contest Entry 2013

Human Nature 004The required photo has been taken, registration form filled in with all necessary boxes checked, check enclosed along with SASE….signed, sealed and about to be delivered to the Post Office for the all-important Feb. 1 postmark. You did it, kid, with hours to spare. Still lots to do to complete the piece before the June deadline, but I think I’ll take the day off.