Quilt Show Logo

I went to the 2008 International Quilt Festival/Chicago. “How weird,” you might be thinking, since I don’t quilt, and last time you checked this was a jewelry blog, right?

Having been wowed at the Quilt Festival last year, when I bought tickets as a gift for a friend, this year we both wanted to go again.

Here’s what made it really fun:

– it’s refreshing to go see some other art form, that I don’t do

– it was interesting having gone two years in a row, and seeing the “trends,” in art quilting

– it was cool to just walk around and talk about what worked, what didn’t, and to just experience which quilts stopped us — which pieces were really and truly works of art

So what trends did I see? One trend was too many metallics! And sewing too much junk on the quilt — including low quality beads and doo dads. I always notice this when fiber artists incorporate metal or beads — usually the beads and doodads are boring craft store ones and the copper wire or whatever, isn’t finished.

Something for us metal artists to keep in mind when we play with fiber in our jewelry — just because it’s out of our area — we still need to finish the item to the same degree as we do our metalwork.

The Journals project was on display — the original mini quilts, just 8 1/2 x 11, from the book, Creative Quilting: The Journal Quilt Project by Karey Patterson Bresenhan. I love these little sketches in fabric — they’re like Artist Trading Cards, only bigger — just big enough to express one idea. It’s a creative challenge: can you boil your idea down to the essential?

There was also a display of larger mini quilts, about 17 x 20ish, which was interesting, because the larger size allowed them to be more complicated. It was almost like going bigger wasn’t such an improvement over the 8 1/2 x 11s; they lost their urgency. However, one of my favorite quilts in the show was in that section.

One of our topics of conversation, as we walked around, was, “is this one art?” Some of the quilts struck us as nice home decor pieces, but not as art.

Some of the pieces definitely stretched the definition of “What is a quilt.” Some of those stretch-ers were pieces that had me thinking, “Oh, that’s a quilt? I could do that, I didn’t know that counted as a quilt.”

The best pieces combined great technical skill with an idea, or something to say, or just being amazing. The best pieces also had a lot going on; the kind of piece where you keep looking and you go, “oh, look at this, I didn’t see that before!”

Here’s the book on the little journal quilts:

The International Quilt Festival may be coming to your city, find out at Quilts.com.

And the Chicago show is online in a virtual version here, though something is really lost in the translation to the screen.

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