Even though I’ve had ample time— more than two weeks— to process my Quiltcon experience, I still feel like it’s a jumble of impressions. (I posted just the facts here.) Truthfully, I just stopped being tired yesterday. It was totally worth it, and I come away with positivity and inspiration, but man, that was exhausting. Especially when you have to hit the ground running on a Monday morning with kids’ routines and all the ideas swirling around in my head.
I have found that after each time I go to a quilt show, and especially to Quiltcon (after attending two to date) I come out wanting to realign my ideas of who I am as a quilter and as a creative person. After last year’s show I wanted to learn as much as I could about quilt history and learn about digital design tools. After this year’s show, I just wanted to make stuff. On the flight home, I sketched a lot and brainstormed new projects. I thought about making series (what’s the plural) of art quilts and about learning new techniques.
So this post is about my artistic takeaway from Quiltcon Pasadena, and how I’ve realigned after the experience. It’s funny to me how I’ve made it sound like a trip to the chiropractor— I’ve been adjusted! But as I think I’ve said before, balance includes and requires wobbles as well as a return to stillness, so this is kind of a state of the mindset address.
The quilts in the show that inspired me as works of art were the ones that had features that could only be made by them. I think of the improv quilts, the hand quilted quilts, the free motion masterpieces.
I was made aware of the concept of “the hand of the maker” when I talked to some quilters about fine art (Quiltcon VIP Chawne Kimber posted about it recently on Instagram). In painting, as I understood it, the hand of the maker can be the person’s brush strokes, the evidence that this work is made by the person who has signed it. I heard people discuss how that can be conveyed in quilting, and it made me think about the magic of imperfection. Where can I put my own uniqueness into my quilts?
I also really enjoyed the skill of designers who were speaking so many languages of color and line and shape (a highlight was meeting and seeing the quilts of Anne Sullivan, check her out if you haven’t already). I really enjoyed the minimalist quilts, the new expressions of traditional shapes, and the experimentation and skill presented in the small quilts category. Of course, that covers just about all of them (My apologies for not having more pictures of quilts!)
My conclusions, at least the ones that sit the best in my belly today, are that I’m going to think of my quilting as a process that travels on two tracks. There is pattern design and creation and skill-building that is meant to be replicated and taught, and there is one-of-a-kind creation, which I consider my art.
Since January, I’ve been working on a modern quilt that I am hoping has the hand of the maker in it. There are choices and “brushstrokes,” a tiny bit of improvisation, and a hope that this is a one of a kind creation. I’ve also been designing and pitching my designs, so I can thank Quiltcon for nurturing that artistry and business sense equally. I don’t think the tracks will, or should be, parallel, but I’m really excited to see where each one takes me.