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 Textile Evolution

Liz Kettle Artist, Author and Creator of the Stitch Meditation process

Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

What's in a Name?

I have had a horrid cold, the sort of cold that gives you 'break your ribs' coughing fits. Yuck! I am not too sad though because I think this means my immune system is getting back to a more normal baseline. The only benefit of a Wonder Woman immune system is that normal colds just don't have a chance. LOL As much as I love Wonder Woman I would rather have a non-superhero immune system. So please forgive me if this post is a bit rambly. 

Modern quild challenge quilt

Since I can't get much computer or studio work done I have spent more time than usual reading. I spent quite a few hours checking out reviews of Quilt Con and I came across thisblog postby Thomas Knauer. I have never heard of him before that but found that his post really resonated with me. Basically, he writes a 'mini manifesto' about the words we use to describe what we do. Does it really matter if we name what we make traditional, contemporary, modern or art quilts?

If you have even been to a modern quilt guild meeting you mght be surprised to see english paper piecing-by hand, quilts that look more like contemporary art and traditional patterns being done with 'modern' fabrics. As someone who has been hanging out in the quilt world for more years than seem possible, I am always amused when the modern quilters act like they have discovered something totally new. I amuse myself when I peruse old stitch books and find that what may be called contemporary hand stitching or embroidery has been done before. And, do you remember the hoopla the first time a machine quilted quilt won first prize in Houston? As if quilters hadn't used their tredle machines to quilt before. It is always great to be reminded that just because something is new to you it doesn't mean it is new to the universe. 

Now don't get me wrong. I love the modern quilt movement. It is bringing energy and enthusiam into the quilt industry like a breath of fresh air. I love the new highly graphic asethetic of the new designer's fabric. I love the colors, and wish I could snap my fingers and swap out my stash of muddy tones for all those yummy bright new fabrics. I remember when solid fabrics were 'in' the last time round. I just wonder why we feel the need to distance ourselves from each other. I have made quilts in all these styles, and love each quilt faction equally. I have heard negative remarks from all the different quilt camps about all the other quilt camps as if it were better to belong to one over the other. When you get right down to the bottom line we are all just making stuff!

That is the clincher. What is really important here is the 'making' not the end product. Making connects us with our selves, with our soul and with each other. It doesn't matter if you are making 'fine art' or a quilt that will be drug around by a toddler. The magic, the juicy goodness, is in the making. 

When I crawled into bed at 8pm I had run out of novels to read and my Kindle was being glitchy so I dragged out an old book by Michael Gelb. It is one of my favorites, How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci. The first part of the book takes you through the Renaissance (quickly) and I was stopped dead in my tracks by the following:

"we owe it to ourselves to ask if we can afford to let the authorities of our time---whether church, goverment, or corporation----think for us."     Michael Gelb

Wow, I would have smacked my head but it already hurt! This is what I have been talking about! Who cares what the quilt police, the modern guild or the art world thinks about what I make. Labels can help us define our tribes, find our friends and our place in a huge world. Labels can also fence us in and allow us to let the group tell us how to think and create. Creating and making are too important to let anyone tell us how we should do it. The flip side being everyone's creative expression should be honored and accepted...even when we don't understand it.

If we choose to let what other people create open doors to conversations that connect us more deeply does it matter what we call it?


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