Tuesday, June 07, 2005

An email order for a pattern included this question:

Dear Melody,
I've never made an art quilt, but have made several quilts. Will this be a daunting task for a beginner at art quilts?

Dear Beginner,
Art quilts are much easier to make than traditional quilts. Traditional quilts usually require that things in the design match up, or fit nicely together to promote the design concept. Art quiltmaking suggests that you forget the rules and make up your own. This is not to say that all art quilts are imbued with a 'devil may care' attitude, but some do, and yet they have a certain bravado often referred to, in my work, as Slap Dash.

Art quiltmaking tends toward the original, or innovative or in my case, lazy. I am always looking for the easy way out and if the design goes off kilter, so much the better. Art quilts generally are meant to hang on the wall, hence they need not be made in an enduring manner. No one should expect to wash an art quilt, or sit on it or really handle it too much. Or look too closely.
Construction can be done by sewing, or fusing or glueing, and as long as anything that falls off can be reglued, it passes muster.

I realize that one who comes from a tradition of doing a good job may find this unstructured approach a bit daunting, and in the beginning you may still want to employ some finesse. No one will take you to task for being too exacting, but you may not get much credit for the care you took, and that may make you feel underappreciated. This experience might allow your next creation to take a few shortcuts and of course, the result will look incorrect to you. However, resist the urge to point out the mistakes. These may be the very thing that makes your piece artistic.

You will soon find that you are making many more quilts, much faster and with more enjoyment and will begin to notice that your old tradition bound chums are getting a little envious of your output and are making disparaging remarks under their breath. This cannot be avoided.

You have moved on and it is probably time to seek out others like yourself who are more interested in doing something personal, original and idiosyncratic than 'doing it just like it should be done'. There are plenty of us out here, and the number is growing everyday. We are interested in freeing you from the tedium of correctness, and will support your inventions and experiments and applaud your mismatched seams, if you have seams.
Of course it is OK to fuse, it is not cheating. It is a means to an end. A happy end.


  1. Hurray!!!!! If this isn't the Quilt Art Manifesto, I'd like to be shown one that beats it!

    Did I mention that you are my Hero?


  2. Love it! YAY! How true!

    I know that as a beginning art quilter, I felt that traditional quilting with its precision and patterns just didn't appeal to me. Call me a rebel, but I didn't like the "rules". I love art quilting because I can do whatever I feel like as long as I'm happy with my end result.

  3. Can I reprint this in my guild newsletter? I love it!!


So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com