Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Great Quilt Exhibit

My friend and I went to the Milwaukee Art Museum to checkout the antique quilt exhibition from the Winterthur Museum. Wow, what a magnificent setting for quilts-- right on the shore of Lake Michigan. This is a fantastic traveling exhibit,  make a point to see it if it comes to your area of the country.

The quilts dated from 1600's to late 1800's. Each quilt was chosen because it represented some of the needlework trends or unique fabric of the time. Many of them were truly masterpieces. They exist today because they were treasured by their families and lightly used. Because they do not allow photography I have no pictures to show you. There is a current book about the collection called Quilts in a Material World by Linda Eaton.

When I saw the first quilt, I was struck with the thought, beauty, originality and huge size of  the work.  Here we are, quilting in America, with the greatest fabrics, threads and machines in the history of humanity.  We need to be producing fantastic quilts with more love  thought and commitment!  Many of us have forgotten how satisfying it is to finish a quilt  that we have made ourselves. Because I love quilting so much, it is hard for me to understand why so many of us send their quilts out for someone else to finish.

Some of the early handwork and embroidery was every bit as perfect as some of our computer aided embroidery and quilting. These women created these quilts, with no books, patterns or fancy equipment. Their problem solving in areas with funny corners or border ideas were amazing. Many of the quilt makers represented, achieved great visual appeal with so few resources.  There is much to be learned from looking at their work.

To sum up this Winterthur exhibit:
  • There was great pride in quality of handwork
  • Originality of design
  • Large scale bed pieces
  • Examples included: whitework, broiderie perse, applique, trapunto, hand piecing, embroidery all using silk, cotton, wool or linen fabrics and thread.
I am awestruck.  We have much to learn and appreciate from looking at this work. I hope all of you have a chance to experience this exceptional exhibit.



Barbara said...

Why I send quilts out to be quilted: When I first started quilting I had the idea that I had to do it all myself. Over the years very few quilts got finished because I have perfectionist tendencies and I'm not very good at quilting, machine or hand, and I'm too slow. I finally came to the conclusion that I had to give up the idea that I had to do everything myself if I wanted to finish things. Now that I'm sending some out, I actually get quilts finished - 4 this year, 3 quilted by check and one by me. Maybe in a few years when I retire and have more time, I can conquer my fear of free-motion machine quilting and have time to improve my hand quilting. I did hand-quilt my parents 50th anniversary quilt which was my first finished quilt.

quiltfool said...

Hi, Ann. I'm really enjoying the direction your posts are taking. I love that you're talking about things like "overquilting", composition, and making our quilting fit the quilt. And, I hope you'll keep it going. Maybe a post about how grouping garish colors together does not calm any one of them down? I recently saw someone so proud of a set of selected FQ's for one quilt in pink, orange, lime, and gold. It was hideous. Eek! Oh, and my other favorite; an old pattern in a new fabric line does not a new pattern make. Thanks for being there and helping us find our way...if we'll stop and listen, that is. Lane

annieQ said...

There is a good reason for having some of your bed quilts done by a long arm. Quilts that are extra large, or will be heavily used are perfect for sending out. But please save your really special pieces until you have the time to quilt them yourself, whether by hand or machine.

As a judge I have seen tops that were really beautifully designed and crafted, only to be almost destroyed by an inexperienced long arm quilter! Ann

annieQ said...

For quiltfool.
Color and fabric selection is really a very personal thing. It's the same as the sense of taste, some people like coffee others like tea. I like chocolate with caramel others prefer chocolate with coconut.

Our color preferences are also unique. Some love bright glowing colors, others use the duller 30's or civil war type fabrics. I have made some quilts in somber tones, but I feel much better when I use strong colors.

Like many of you I have very strong personal preferences and opinions. After years of being in small critique groups I have found that it is better to encourage a person, instead of being too critical of their color and design choices. Unless the FQ quilter asks for your opinion, it's best not to offer your critique! You'll find your foot in your mouth and the FQ quilter will have bruised feelings and perhaps get discouraged when it comes to trying something new.

For me the best way to learn a lesson is to make a mistake. It is a harsh way to learn, but it will be one that is never forgotten! I have a pile of quilts that will never see sunshine, and with each one, I learned something that will make the next quilt a better one.

quiltfool said...

I stand rebuked.