Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Some Comments from Europe on the Quilt Composition Issue

 Hello quilters and readers,

The following email came from Marianne in Belgium. She has some comments, from the European side of the quilting world. With her permission I am printing them below.

I really wanted to comment on this particular blog post because you are touching on a couple of subjects that a friend and I have been discussing frequently.

1 The "quilting-to-death" syndrome that seems to have taken over every quilt in every quilt show
2 The lack of coherence in so-called art quilts as well as traditional quilts

I have for years collected patchwork techniques so I can put together a patchwork top, I can appliqué by hand by machine revers appliqué as well etc.  I can do digitized quilt designs free-motion quilt (if I have to, LOL) BUT where do we go to find good classes in composition? Learning composition should surely go along with all the other techniques and tools we collect but it is so difficult to find composition classes.

I live in Europe and here they are even fewer and further apart than they seem to be in the US. Sure we can do a British City and Guild qualification online but that only provides you with design techniques NOT composition as such (or the one I took part in did not, it was all about ticking boxes in the log-book). Design techniques are all very well (and certainly needed don't get me wrong) but if you are not capable of judging the designs you come up with because you lack the knowledge to do so then you either do not exhibit (that's me) or you end up entering disjointed pieces of work or do what previous ribbon winners have done hence all the quilts are over quilted in designs that have nothing whatsoever to do with the top they are quilted on.

IMHO what is needed is for good classes (online and live) where we beginners can learn the ABC of composition because without that you will continue to get copies of, copies of previous ribbon winners. (Maybe some judges should be sent to art school too?).

Thank you very much for taking on this subject! I do not have a blog so cannot link to your post but will send links to various quilters I know.

Marianne Gadeberg

This is Ann again. We do need to have more information on design and composition for everyone. There are books out there on the subject. Go to your public libraries and look under "art and design." Also there is quite a bit of design info on the web too. It is worth your time to read a little on the topic. If you have a good suggestion for a book or website, please comment in the comment section.

My personal experience with design and color classes has been that they are quite dull.  There are some excellent  instructors out there, but to be honest, it is hard to fill this kind of workshop! Technique classes are easier to fill.

For me experience is the best teacher. When making quilts you will find, with trial and error what works best. One of my favorite things to do is make small quilts. How small? Let's say anywhere from 6 x 6 inches to placemat size. Make a lot of them, experimenting with shape, color, fabric, and thread. Allow yourself the freedom to play and make mistakes.  This is the best way--for me.

When you get stuck somewhere, try getting a second opinion from a friend, and work through the problem. You must try and be flexible and open minded and think of solutions that may not have been in your original idea. Look through books and magazines to see what other quilters have done in similar situations. Even for me, sometimes it takes quite some time to work through a challenge.

I'm going to go and play on a brand new design, which has taken me 3 weeks to solve my problems. At last I've found the solution!  More on this, at a later time.


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