Monday, October 1, 2012

caution to the wind

I have a soft spot for the mavericks of the world. More than a soft spot, actually - I admire them and love them for the joy that they bring to my life. Rule-breakers make our world an ever-changing place. They are the ones who inspire us to be better and kinder human beings by embracing racial and gender equality; the ones who say "What if...?" and invent popping candy and silly putty and iPhones; the ones who terrify and enthuse, startle and bless. God love them.

 Many times over my forty three years of sewing I have thought of the women who, a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years ago, were the mavericks of their generation. How constrained were they by the sewing conventions of their times? How constrained are WE? I take so much delight in imagining the "naughty" ones at the quilting bees who stitched a little rebellion into their quilts. I must admit to not enjoying a single second of making this quilt. I'm not sure why - maybe I am kind of done with challenging quilt making and am wanting to return to simpler sewing? Maybe it's just that we have changed direction again personally and are now doing a 1200km round trip weekly for work. Who knows but time?

Anyway, now that it is done, it has surprised me by appealing to me aesthetically so much more than I expected it to. It's a simple and quiet(ish) commentary on rule-breaking maverick quilters through the last hundred or so years.I have been making quilts long enough to have heard more than a few people refer to machine-stitched quilts as "not real quilts".Others have loudly declared that using fusibles is "cheating". The much-admired (maybe 'adored' is not too strong a word!)and heavily influential quilts by the quilt makers of Gee's Bend would, at one time, not have been as well-regarded. It used to be, not all that long ago, that competitions and exhibitions defined a quilt as "three layers" and required that they be bound. That's no longer necessarily the case. What kind of rule-breaking does one have to do to be a quilting maverick these days, I wonder? The bottom row of this quilt is made of paper and cloth. My apologies for the fairly dodgy photos. My beloved phone has its limitations.

11 comments:

Gerrie said...

I just love this, Kirsty. It makes me want to spend time with it finding the little idiosyncrasies that you have stitched into it. I also love your story and sentiment about how important mavericks are to the world and to our little world of fiber art. I am glad that you like it now that it is finished.

Diane Perin Hock said...

Kirsty, even before I read what you said about this piece, I knew what it was about. It has that delightfully homey, spontaneous sense and I get an instant feel for a woman sewing with clothing scraps to express her own individuality in her own way. I think this is delightful and I like how the details all contribute.

Karen said...

This is great Kirsty, sort of rule breaking and fascinating and beautiful all at once.

Kristin L said...

I used to work for a design firm with an office manager who had the most delicious English accent and way of saying things that our boss always said that when she told people off they actually went away smiling. This quilt reminds me of her in a way. It is so sweet and unassuming, but is really a middle finger to the Quilt Police! I love that kind of subversiveness.

Deborah Boschert said...

Caution to the wind, indeed! Love it. Plus... it's another round hole/square peg quilt. I just think it's so cool when more than one of us use similar design elements, whether they come from the same idea or not.

I am so glad that you're pleased with it, even if you didn't enjoy making it. It's really wonderful and a lovely addition to your body of work as part of 12x12.

I also love your words, "the ones who terrify and enthuse, startle and bless."

Terri Stegmiller said...

I love how all the prints work together. You've really made me think with your words, "How constrained are WE?" Hmmmm.

Nikki said...

I love your comment Kristin!

Kirsty, your quilts always make me feel at home -- the way I want my life to be. I could definitely see myself being one of the "naughty" one.

Maybe you didn't like making this quilt because you were asked to make a rebellious quilt, thus making it not a rebellious act? (Just my sometimes passive aggressive mind thinking and perhaps why I didn't try very hard to make my maverick quilt maverick)

Diane Perin Hock said...

You know, I agree with Nikki -- there is something about what you do in your quilts, Kirsty, that makes me feel at home. Is it the way you mix fabrics? Or just an overall sensibility that comes through whatever you do? I'm not sure HOW you do it but I definitely have that reaction and Nikki articulated it perfectly.

Helen Conway said...

For reasons I can't quite pinpoint ( maybe the vintage feel of the fabrics? ) this reminds me of wartime and rationing and all the weird and wonderful ways people came up with food substituted and maverick ways to cook.

Terry Grant said...

It is delightful for all the reasons everyone has written. For some reason it reminded me of a quilting group of women--seemingly the same, but really quite different when you take the time to look carefully at each one. And then there is that one really intense one--the cobalt blue one, sort of lurking amongst her cheerier sisters. There is always one in the crowd--right?

Françoise said...

Love it Kirsty. It illustrates in a very gentle way what you wanted to tell. It's too bad you didn't enjoy making this quilt, but I'm glad you like it now.