||[Jul. 17th, 2009|12:06 pm]
I’m sitting here working on the last little bit of my Hawaiian appliqué quilt, and thinking over the gorgeous quilts I saw at Paducah, and the class I took there which mostly involved using inks to color fabric to get the precise look you want. I was disappointed in the class; in general, I find I don’t like that sort of technique. One of the winning quilts at the show was done that way -- it was quilted whole cloth: one piece of fabric which had been quilted and then the quilting motifs were colored in. It was beautiful, but when I got up close and saw how it had been done I walked away thinking less of the quilt.As I sat and stitched and pondered, I wondered why I think of those sorts of techniques (painting on fabric) as cheats. Why am I such a traditionalist? It struck me suddenly: it’s about the frame of the art. What defines the art? This is clearest to me in poetry. The form of a haiku is 17 ‘on’ (corresponding loosely to English syllables) in a 5-7-5 pattern. If the poem uses 20 ‘on’ because it’s easier to get the effect the poet is looking for, well, it might be pretty but it’s not a haiku, not anymore. Sonnets can use any words they want, but if they don’t have a frame of 14 lines and regular meter, they’re not sonnets anymore. Quilting is about making art with fabric and thread. The challenge, to me, is making the art I want to create within the framework of using fabric and thread to get that effect. If I have to resort to paint, that’s a failure of craft; that’s taking the easy way out.
(This hasn’t stopped me from taking a class in using oil pastel sticks to shade fabric for an appliqué block. I enjoyed said class immensely; apparently a little cheating is ok. *grin*)