Friday, December 27, 2019

End of Year Giveaway

In scrolling through my postings for 2019 I noticed I neglected to include this one. The American QuiltStudy Group hosts a biennial “quilt Study” which is revealed at the annual seminar in the Fall. You can read about it and view many of the past participant’s creations on the AQSG website (here). I participated in 2012 when the theme was “The Colonial Revival”. That book is still available at a good price on Amazon (here).

In 2018 the theme was “200 years of Solid Color Quilts” and my friend Laurie and I decided to give it a shot. For the inspiration quilt we chose a fabulous early (pre-1840) wool quilt with the typical Maine shape (to accommodate the 4-poster bed) from the collection of the Maine State Museum where Laurie is “Chief Curator of History and Decorative Arts”. Laurie had reproduced this quilt (her first quilt in fact!) before as a part of an exhibition that my friend Cyndi (Busy Thimble) and I had curated a few years ago. It is .

One of the requirements of the quilt study is that the quilt be made expressly for the study and that it not be shown in public before the reveal at seminar. So, Laurie suggested that we create it again as a team. I made the quilt using Laurie’s quilting design from her first project and Laurie did all the research and writing (her specialty!). We had a lot of fun and it was fun to see it finally in print.

I think I forgot to blog about it because I was so happy to see fellow bloggers post about their quilts – Barb’s (Fun with Barb) was a really fun interpretation of her inspiration quilt.
And Cynthia’s (Wabi-Sabi Quilts) quilt was fabulous and I was so excited to see it on the cover!
Or maybe I forgot to post it because they spelled my name wrong (it is "Caton" not "Canton") - nah, I'm not that petty, besides this happens a lot.

So… long story for the giveaway… but I realized I had an extra copy and thought it would make a fun end of year gift to one of my readers. Leave me a comment about your favorite quilting project this year and I will pick a lucky winner on the 31st when I post my last mini quilt for 2019.

If you are not the winner and would like a copy, you can order this one and many of the past years as well on Amazon (here)

Monday, December 16, 2019

The age old question

Warning – this is a wordy post, but the subject has always intrigued me.

Frances O’Roark Dowell of Quilters Alliance posed an interesting question on The Quilter’s Alliance Story Circle Facebook page today (here). Her question was “Is quilting an art or a craft?”

I had written an article many years back about this very subject and since it is far too wordy for a Facebook post, I will publish it here. Grab a cup of tea (or two!) and if you make it all the way to the end, let me know what you think about the subject.

I wrote this in 2004 in response to a lecture on “art quilts” that I had recently attended. I was most assuredly one of the only (if not the only) traditional quilter in the room. The only “traditional” quilters named were African Americans whose fame has sky rocketed in the last few years with the Gees Bend exhibition. Amish quilts were noted as being the quintessential art form with their simple designs and striking colors. Very little was said about today’s traditional quilter and how we are struggling to keep traditions alive. The focus was more on the statements that today’s art quilters are making.

Artist or Quilter?
By Wendy Caton Reed

It finally happened to me! Someone asked me one of the most intriguing and perhaps complex questions posed to today’s quiltmakers; “Do you consider yourself an artist?”

I’ve always considered myself to be a quilter. My mother’s an artist and although I’ve often thought some of her talent should have rubbed off onto me, I can’t sketch a rock with a kindergarten crayon. So maybe there is more to it than just the ability to draw. I decided to seek help from my local library. I picked up the largest dictionary I could carry (c 1910) and this is what I found:

Art n. 1.a. The use of imagination and skill to create beautiful things. b. Works, as paintings, which result from this creativity. 2. A field of artistic activity, as literature, music, or dance. 3. A nonscientific branch of learning, esp. one of humanities. 4. A craft or trade and the methods employed in it. 5. A practical skill or knack. 6. The quality of being cunning: artfulness.

Quilt n. A padded bed cover. - quilt v. – quilting n.

Being the highly analytical person that I am, I took it step by step to see which word described me best.

We’ll start with “Art” (since it comes first alphabetically).

1.     a. The use of imagination and skill to create beautiful things. I don’t want to “toot my own horn”, but I think I do create some beautiful quilts and I have one of the most active imaginations of anyone I know, so I guess we can put a check by this one!
b. Works, as paintings, which result from this creativity. Even though I don’t see the word “quilt” in this definition, I certainly have plenty of “works” around the place (in one stage or another), so this is a check too.

2.     A field of artistic activity, as literature, music, or dance. Wow, this is
      a weird one! They don’t even mention painting, let alone quilting.
      Maybe they just ran out of room or they figured 3 examples were
   enough and people could draw their own conclusions, so we’ll put a
   check by this one as well.

3.     A nonscientific branch of learning, esp. one of humanities. This could be a tricky one because although there are thousands of people out there teaching “quilting” and even a few institutions of higher learning that have quilts and quilt history as part of their curriculum (usually lumped in with women’s studies or material culture studies), there usually is some math involved. I don’t think there is enough math involved to take it out of the humanities column, but I’m going to leave this one blank anyway.

4.     A craft or trade and the methods employed in it. Gee, I think this fits best of all. I spend more time quilting than I do anything else. When I don’t have a needle in my hand, I have visions of the next quilt dancing around my brain (even in my sleep!). There are hundreds of new ideas each year in our “trade or craft”, and although I have learned a new trick or two over time, my “methods employed” haven’t changed much in my 50+ years of quiltmaking. This is a definite check.

5.     A practical skill or knack. Can’t get much more practical than something to cover the bed and keep you warm on those cold Maine nights and some people say I have a natural knack for it. Check again.

6.     The quality of being cunning: artfulness. I don’t think this one has anything to do with the subject here, but I don’t want to leave anything out so I’ll answer it anyway. My father used to say I was cunnin’, but that is Maine for “cute” (or at least that’s what I was always lead to believe). However, since it really doesn’t have anything to do with art or quilts, I guess we’ll have to leave it blank.

Now, we’ll go on to the word “Quilt”:

1)    A padded bed covering. Granted this dictionary was dated 1910 and things in the quilt world have certainly changed since then, but I just can’t believe that “art” gets 7 full definitions (don’t forget #1 had an a. and b.) and this is all they can find to describe “quilt”?

If I had to choose a title based on a dictionary’s literal definitions, I would be a fool not to pick the more substantial and far more romantic “Artist” (heck, “Quilter” isn’t even a word in this dusty old book).

So, I think I would have to say that I am an artist who creates quilts. I make them because it makes me happy. I love the whole process; designing, color choice, fabric shopping, pattern play, piecing, appliqué and quilting. I love giving my quilts to friends, relatives and people in need. My grandfather used to say that wood warms you twice: once when you chop it and again when you burn it! That is the way I feel about my quilts.

And as far as quilter vs artist, who says you can’t be both!

So, what do you think? How far have we really come? How far do we want to go? My feeling is there is just as strong a gap between “traditional artist” and “art quilter” as there is between “art quilter” and “traditional quilter”.

Have a very quilty day!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Just in time for the shower!

My daughter is expecting her 2nd (our 3rd grandson) in a few weeks and I finished this little quilt the day before the shower.
I guess I really do work best under pressure. She is an interior designer and is particularly fond of the ROYGBIV rainbow spectrum. I didn’t think she paid that much attention for my penchant for “charm” quilts so I was very proud when she asked “are all the fabrics different?”. (And, yes, they are!) I bought this fabric to make something for my Mom, but I think she was happy that I used it on the back instead. 

I also took a few minutes to make this little kennel quilt for my local quilt group.
We are also doing a name tag swap and I picked Shyla’s name. Our meeting is on Thursday – I hope she likes it! 

Lori (Humble Quilts) is hosting a “Holiday Favorites” blog hop. Head on over to her blog (here) and visit all the great blogs. I hope to glean a little holiday decorating inspiration.

I have but one thing on my Christmas wish list this year. Hey Santa – I want an extra quilting day each week in 2020!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Vintage Patchwork finale - Pride and Prejudice

This is the 12th and final project from my yearlong challenge to make every project in Pam Buda’s “Vintage Patchwork” book. It has been a lot of fun.
The book is designed so that all 12 of these projects can be made from forty 10” squares. I picked out 40 of my favorite fabrics and followed Pam’s clear and concise directions for cutting all 12 projects out at once. Each month’s quilt was neatly packed into a tiny bag and ready for stitching.

Thanks Pam, for a wonderful year of mini projects!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Fun with Barb - star block swap

I was fortunate enough to get in on this year’s “Fun With Barb” block swap. Barb does two swaps, one for modern fabrics and one for reproductions. Both swaps filled the day she announced them. Way to go Barb!

She chose stars this year so how could I say no? I had a ball making these 6” gems. I challenged myself to use fabrics from my scrap bins only. Turns out it was no challenge at all. In fact, after making 40 six inch blocks, I didn’t make a dent!

I see a scrap giveaway in my near future. Stay tuned!