|My most recent traditional finish, titled "Five Years of Jade". And three of my good quilty friends helping me with photos!|
Two posts ago I discussed a few of my thoughts about learning to talk about my work. Further to that there are some more points I'd like to add after I read Suz's comment, which was:
"Even non art quilts have a story... how the fabrics came to be... what sparked the interest in a pattern... who the quilt is for. I have always found these things to be interesting but it always seems like pulling teeth to get the back story... and although your wording is lovely, it doesn't always need to be a carefully curated set of words."
And she is right. Every quilt has a story and they are all interesting. But some people can tell their story more engagingly than others, and those are the skills I'd like to learn. By listening to others I hope to learn about how they make their words spark connections in my brain, or make me laugh, or draw me in.
My work is occasionally traditional quilts and more often figurative or narrative textile art, and I think it's important to be able to talk about both types of work. I think the skills are interchangeable, because, as Suz says, every quilt has a story.
And I think some of that is realising that others ARE interested in the story, so don't minimalise the journey - expand on the details instead! If you are standing up at show and tell, don't forget the 'tell' part. Tell us how many fabrics you auditioned until you found the perfect one in your friend's scrap pile. Tell us that you made this for Aunty June's fifth wedding because you thought if you made her a special wedding quilt it might stop her getting divorced....again. Tell us that the sashing has those added blocks because you ran out of that one fabric and had to use two.
So in the spirit of 'tell', here's my quilt 'Five Years of Jade'. It is named thus because it took about five years to make, and Jade is a cool word for green ;-)
The quilt began from watching others completing Charlotte Hawke's mystery quilt called Scrapitude. I didn't join on the mystery because I don't like surprises when it comes to quilts, but I liked every one's finished quilts so much that I downloaded the pattern and instructions and started making it on my own.
Because of my previously noted dislike of surprises, I controlled my colours - rather than using whatever darks, mediums and lights that came out of my scrap bin, I chose bigger pieces with a controlled palette - no scrap vomits for me! But in keeping with the spirit of the project, the majority of fabrics came from my stash. I did a lot of piecing of this quilt on night shifts on and off for probably more than a year and then it sat for ages and ages as a flimsy.
I had the perfect border fabric in my stash, bought as an extra-wide backing for some or other project that I can't remember, but obviously never used. I wanted a wide border to help the quilt fit my bed and, as all the edge triangles were bias, it really needed something to stabilise it.
When I got back from Canada I was looking for a quick finish, something to give me a sense of having 'done something', and whipping on some borders and bundling it off to the long-armer was the perfect fix!
This is the first quilt I've ever had long-arm quilted and my friend, Melissa Gelder of The Quilting Octopus, did a great job on it. She helped me find the perfect all-over pattern called Feather Swirls by Anne Bright and she also had the perfect grey-green backing fabric on hand. Sorted!
So there you have it. One completed traditional quilt, and the story that goes with it.
Today there are museums and study centres dedicated to learning the stories behind antique quilts. People want to know about quilters' work, even a hundred years after the last stitch was taken, so please don't underestimate the interest others have in your work. And don't miss the opportunity to talk about your work in the present day! Share the love, share your knowledge, learn to talk about what you did and why you did it and the world will be a richer place for it.