Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's a New Year!!!

I love the start of a new year -- it gives me a chance to stop for a moment and think about what I want to do during the coming year, and to set goals.  I already have some ideas about some quilts I want to make... some quilts I want to finish... and some quilts I want to give away.  In one of the groups I belong to, each person is choosing a "word" that represents their focus for the year.  Some of the words are admirable:  generous, thoughtful, loving.  But one that struck me was "purge."  I think I'm going to adopt that word as mine for the year, too.  I want to get rid of some excess that I've collected through the years -- tools and books and fabric that I know I'll never use.  What would you purge?  And one of the things I want to take on is working on something that isn't in my comfort zone.  One option is for me to design a quilt that follows the tenets of the "modern quilt guild." 
If you haven't heard about the Modern Quilt Guild, it's a group of over 100 quilt guilds across the U.S. (and even beyond the U.S.).  Modern quilting gives a voice to quilters who look at quilts as functional versus decorative.  Modern quilting designs are not often based on traditional blocks.  They are often asymmetrical, have interacting motifs, and embrace minimalism and simplicity.   They are often inspired by architecture and modern art, and incorporate negative space.  They often use solid fabrics, and improvisational piecing -- and are finished on domestic sewing machines more often than not.  They have no hard and fast rules, embrace bold colors, do redefine what is possible and allowable in quiltmaking.  The Modern Quilter often finds friendship and community on the internet.  So... let's take a look at some of the modern quilts that were exhibited at the International Quilting Association show in Houston last Fall.  
First, here is Pixelated Color Wheel by Kati Spencer of Taylorsville, Utah.  Kati used approximately 150 different solid-colored fabrics to create an interesting overall view of the color wheel.  She began with the central white squares and then began arranging other colors radiating from the center, moving from light to dark.  Kati says, "The use of color, quilting and solid fabrics create a simple yet interesting piece that has become a well-received quilt in the modern quilting community."

Cutting Edge Conglomerate, below, by Earamichia Brown and the NYC Metro Mod Quilters of New York, New York (quilted by Jackie Kunkel), resulted from a Michael Miller Fabrics challenge to make a "modern" quilt out of their new Cotton Couture line of solid fabrics.  Each person in the guild made a block according to the Modern Quilt Guild ( description of "modern quilting."  The design and layout were decided and completed by the members.  The quilt's name is the group's own thesaurus version of "Modern Group." 

Jennifer Carlton-Bailly of Portland, Oregon, made 5-HTP Squared, after being inspired by a mid-century modern print by an unknown artist with these shapes and colors.  The quilt was quilted with a minimalist grid pattern to give it texture.  Mixing the colors together, according to Jennifer, produced a fresh clean pallet that created movement and interest.  The one red square in the bottom right hand corner is Jennifer's signature in her quilts.

J Rock Star by Victoria Findlay Wolfe (quilted by Jackie Kunkel) of New York, New York,  adopts a classic LeMoyne Star block but updates it and uses Jay MacCarrol Habitat fabrics.  Victoria challenged herself to use the entire color palette in the star, and make it work together -- giving us a "zingy updated electric star!"

Violet Craft of Portland, Oregon, made Mainframe Derez.  It was inspired by the 1982 American science fiction film Tron  -- and the 1980s in general, along with, specifically both the Atari logo and Tron Light Cycle Arena matches.

Off the B.O.W. by Krista Fleckenstein of Anchorage Alaska, created her quilt using improvisational piecing.  The block motif that Krista used is a modified version of "Kathy's Block" from Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking II.  Krista created this quilt as part of the "Bee Liberated" online quilting bee.  She and her husband had just finished painting a 14-foot wall in their home a deep orange, and she wanted something to calm the color down.  Her favorite part of this quilt was the use of some solid teal fabric shared by one of the bee members -- Krista says, "that one pop of color brought energy to an otherwise calm quilt.  It is a testament to collaborative quilting."  As you can see from the quilts shown here so far, the modern quilt guild  principles are consistently applied to the modern quilts:  asymmetry, minimalism, bold colors, and online communities!

Katie Pedersen of Seattle Washington made Opposing Triangles using improvisational piecing.  She outlined each triangle in white, creating a continuous line linking all the triangles together.  Dense quilting (done by Krista Withers) in the negative space emphasized their presence and blended the color scheme, making the quilt, according to Katie, "modern and edge, yet calming at the same time."

You will have to forgive some of my photographs. In the picture above, the shadow of a display stand could not be edited out of the picture.  Similarly, on other photos, you will see a post or some protective tape between posts, across the picture.  I'm so sorry!

Refracted Sunset by Heather Scrimsher of Round Rock, Texas,  was inspired by a photo of a sunset reflected in the glass segments of a multi-story office building.  Fiery orange prints contrasted with a deep navy background, allowing the oranges to dominate and display the drama of the sunset.  Heather notes that the negative space on the right side of the quilt balances out the sunset on the left and center portions of the quilt.  It's hard not to imagine the vision that inspired this quilt -- I'm sure we've all seen sunsets burn their way across the mirror-like surface of today's modern office buildings.

In Ripple, Daniel Rouse of Oakland, California took some challenge fabric and, using the classic Drunkard's Path block (he loves pieced curves), auditioned color combinations.  He settled on the idea of water droplets hitting a pond, creating rings that soon disappeared.  The droplets were each arranged around a central circle, with additional background filling as necessary.  This lovely quilt has a quiet pleasantness about it that is very soothing, and the quilted circles emphasize that notion.

Jacquie Gering and Angela Walters from Chicago, Illinois, collaborated in making Shattered, an improvisationally pieced work inspired by shattered glass following a home break-in.  The dark colors reflect the anger felt following the act... certainly something that we would all feel.  I find it fascinating how an almost physical emotion can be combined with an artistic design, and then be reflected with such depth in this quilt. 

Sky High by Kate Stiassni of New York, New York (quilted by Jackie Kunkel) is based on classic Chinese Coin and Amish Bars quilt designs.  Kate says that living in New York, which is a very vertical place, led her to create a vocabulary of color, line, and shape in her quilts.  Mindful of how some of the earliest American quilters made quilts by adding small pieces of fabric or strips to an ever-growing quilt top, she called both tradition and urban architecture together to compose and render this quilt.  Isn't it great that these designs have such a descriptive basis in our lives?  It helps us both see and understand how quilt structures are developed.

Stephanie Ruyle from Denver, Colorado, pieced this quilt based on a color challenge.  She wanted to make a non-linear, unequal and off-balance quilt, "much like life itself."  Different sizes and colors of blocks, topped with an off-white trhead and free-motion quilting that resembled wind currents added dimension, texture, and movement to her quilt.    The center of the quilt has a small free-motion quilted compass rose in it, from which the quilting pattern originates.  This small compass rose, without directional markers, represents Stephanie's staring point.

Tilework by Elizabeth Harvatine (Toluca Lake, California), was inspired by her fabric choice.  She wanted to design a quilt htat was clean and precise to balance the fabrics' calm and soothing look.  The unusual color scheme is both modern and pleasing to the eye.

Trajectory by Megan Dye of Portland, Oregon, was one of the few modern quilts that I saw that claimed to use paper piecing.  This quilt was inspired by a boomerang motif, and like modern quilting, offers a fresh interpretation of a classic design.  The twist in making this choice for a motif is that a boomerange suggests coming full circle and returning to the original source - which is how Megan views modern quilting.  She chose colors that also reflect both a vintage and modern aesthetic - and the dense straight-line quilting keeps the design simple and clean.  I especially like the excitement that the colors and design bring forth together in this quilt.

Emily Cier (Los Angeles, California) created Typographic Circle.  The letters are pieced and machine appliqued and bring forth Emily's love of rainbows, scraps, and letters.  The background is made from an assortment of white, beige, and neutral scraps, providing "a stark spot for the rainbow to take foot."  This quilt was especially eye-catching because of its colors, uniqueness, and design framework; it was one that drew quilt walkers closer for a quick look.

And here is what they saw, in detail.

The design of What's for Breakfast by Karen Anderson-Abraham (Santa Barbara, California) was influenced by modernist painters of the early 20th century, including the Bauhaus movement.  The Bauhaus sought to reconcile the aesthetics of design and mass production, integrating rational forms and functionality.  In making her quilt, Karen started with the idea of making a monochromatic quilt, but chose to add in some complementary colors.  The colors ultimately created interest among the neutral tones.  The quilt was quilted with multiple spirals, which complemented the linear piecing.

Hot and Cold by Kirsta Fleckenstein of Anchorage, Alaska, is an improvisationally pieced quilt that adopted a classic log cabin block as its primary design.  Kirsta used shot cottons, whose depth of color sings when paired with neutrals.  For those who are not familiar with shot cottons (which are not inexpensive!), they are irridescent cottons made by using different thread colors in the warp and weft.  The interplay of light on the surface of shot cotton creates a dazzling, shimmering effect.  Alternating warm and cool shades of blocks created a good balance in this quilt.
The design and colors for Lynn Harris's (Chelsea, Michigan) quilt, Zinnia, were inspired by a photo of zinnias in her garden.  She notes, "With its simple asymmetrical design on a solid gray ground, this quilt fits with the modern quilt theme." 

That's a snapshot (or several, as the case may be!) of what The Modern Quilt Guild is all about.  The quilts are different, spartan, and functional.  I will have to adopt a different mindset to make a modern quilt.  It reminds me of when I tried to paint an abstract picture many years ago; abstract art was MUCH more difficult than traditional painting, for me!

During the month of December, seasonal activities kept me away from my sewing for a good part of the month, but I did manage to finish quilting my border quilt -- here it is:

And here is a close-up of the center. 

I also quilted a dear friend's quilt.  Georgann Wrinkle had done a huge favor for me a couple of years ago and I promised that I would quilt a quilt for her... so when she gave me this quilt, I was ready to tackle it!  She will be using it to teach a variety of ways to put baskets and bouquets together; she's a terrific teacher with unending patience and enormous skill.  After I finished quilting Georgann's quilt, I noticed that I had missed stitching some of the border lines.  Can you see where they are (two spots!)?  Oops!  Luckily, I had not trimmed off the seam allowances, so I just loaded the quilt back on my machine and stitched the lines.  Phew!

And I also finished quilting and binding my Happy Daze quilt.  Yay!  I have a better picture, but Blogger was not cooperating when I tried to load it in place of this picture.  C'est la vie!  This quilt pattern (and optional kitting) will be available March 1 from Quakertown Quilts; check your local quilt shop, too, for options.

And here's a detailed view of some of the border quilting.  No big deal here... except to press again on my desire for quilters to stitch in the ditch around all piecing and applique!  It's just a bugaboo with me...

I've been working on some other projects, but not enough to take pictures that make any sense at all.  Next month you should see some of those things... or maybe not!  I'm setting goals sometime this week, and I have no idea what I'm going to focus on this month... or year...  YET!
To all of you, I wish you a great new year full of health, happiness, and fun quilting time!
(c) 2013 Susan H. Garman