fear of quilting backlash

surprizingly, it seems a lot of quilt bloggers that follow the "modern" trend are hesitant to answer the question posed by the Modern Quilt Guild.  Is it too controvercial to take a stand, to choose a side?  Why is it that some people are so uncomfortable with the notion of needing/wanting to define and discuss what is "modern"?


You know, I thought quilters were generally nice people (well, don't remind me of the drama i dealt with while I was president of my last guild..), but when this discussion came up in the blogosphere this week, all the sudden people are either ignoring it or they got all prickly and shut up.  Hmph. 
It has been a good blogging excercise for me though, I have found tons of great new blogs through the comments here and on the MQG blog.  Some people are making really edgy modern quilts!  And you know, i'm not one of them.  So, I don't really want to change the way I do things.  I don't want to join a club that makes me forget about my old friends, you know?  Those vintage florals.. all my tiny prints.. my scraps of everything.. I had plans for them.  Ideas, inspiration.  If what I make falls into the "modern" realm, then so be it, but I really can't choose sides.  I'm a 30 year old quilter.  I've been quilting obsessively for 1/3 of my life.  I just wonder if these new "modern" quilters will stick with it, if they will still love the craft when it isn't so "fresh" and "modern" anymore.

You know who I like, who I really really like to read?
Libby, Jan, and Kathie.  These have got to be my favorite quilt bloggers.  When I see their blogs highlighted with a new post in my bloglines, I get excited and forget about whatever else I sat down at the computer to do. I like the way they see things, the way they use fabrics and plan projects, and I like what their blogs have to say. 
As for professional quilters, I love Denyse Schmidt.  She and Martha Stewart were my idols in college.  But I don't know her.  She doesn't have a blog, does she?  All I remember from reading her book was the 30:70 ratio for prints to solids.  She does offer wonderful workshop classes for what it would cost to send 2 queen size quilts out to the long armer, and maybe if I win the lottery (or get a really good paying job) I might try to take one.  I would like the opportunity to get to know her better, but it's like trying to take a class with Kaffe Fassett.  I don't know if I'll ever be that lucky. 
I also really like the quilts that come out of Material Obsession.  And Quilts Japan was my favorite quilt magazine for a long long time.  My sources of inspiration are widely varied, and just now when I was watching The Civil War on PBS, I realized that I feel a connection with those quilters too.  This reminded me of all the Jennifer Chiaverini books that I listened to when I was pregnant with George.  Those were some of my happiest times as a quilter!  How can I be "modern"?

Lots of the quilters that joined the discussion did bring up things other than white sashing and designer prints, things like working without a pattern, and wonkiness.  These techniques aren't really new, but they are more prevalent and acceptable.  Maybe the "modern" quilting world just has less quilt police?  I don't know.  All I do know is that I really enjoyed being part of this conversation, I just wish people weren't hesitant to chime in.  If you have more to say, please.. say it.


chq said...

Good post; well said! I think the process of trying to define what 'modern quilting' is, is causing quilters to think, and see where they fit in the picture. When I thought about it, and examined my quilts, I wasn't even sure if I belonged. My quilts are built on traditional patterns, but they are not traditional. Maybe Modern just means you don't fit in the old school.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the years to come.

Dee said...

love the quilting police comment...it reminds me of the generational gap in churches.

the newer kids are all for life with limited boundaries and actually get the "no judging" thing, but the older generation loves lots of fences, sidewalks and rules and definitely frown down on you if you don't.

maybe the modern quilt movement is much the same way?

great, thought provoling post!

Jessica said...

well said, Dee! when you put it this way, it makes a lot of sense.

Jennifer said...

I think Dee makes a good point. I also think that many quilters in the older generation were (and still are!) doing things that younger designers do now and call "new/modern". Wonky log cabins have been done for years and years by quilters, especially Gwen Marston. To me, the modern quilt movement is, in part, a reflection of the industry that quilting has become. Pattern and book companies, fabric designers, manufacturers, and quilt shop owners have millions of dollars at stake when it comes to convincing customers that they need the latest fabric line, collection, jelly roll, or sewing machine upgrade. So it all changes the game of quilting, when people are encouraged to make top after top, then send it to a long-armer. Encouraging people to spend months (years?) on hand quilting is not good for the bottom line, so keeping things fresh and modern month to month, and courting a younger customer with boundless interests in home dec and gift giving help the quilt industry make money.

I have a Japanese friend who is a long-time quilter and has trained to be a quilt instructor. She showed me projects that she has hand pieced and quilted, and remarked, "Yes, quilting is a very economical hobby, isn't it?" I tried to contain a laugh, and not blurt out, "But that is not what the American quilt industry wants you to believe!" Quilting has grown and branched out into many different paths, some I like and some I do not (as a matter of personal preference), and most of it is for the better as far as keeping the hobby alive. But the biggest thing that is missing for me, that leaves me cold when I see some typical "modern quilts" (don't even really know how to define that term...), is that I don't have a particular feeling when I look at them. Like a lack of soul. And again, that is just me and my preferences. (I really like how you use all kinds of fabrics in your quilts, that have meaning for you as you piece the tops and use the quilts when they are finished!)

The Calico Cat said...

I left a comment on the MQG blog... (I Joined the DC MQG.)

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