Thursday, July 30, 2015

Scrappin' Inspiration, AKA, When Craft Becomes Art



Nothing makes my heart go pitter-patter more than a wonky scrap block. No measuring. No freaking out over straight seams. Pull your scraps, keep on piecing, and square it up under your 12.5" square. Scrapping speaks to me on a gut level, and I have an emotional response. What makes you swoon?


Artists talk forever about what inspires their art. You can find reams of quotes about art inspiration, but one that has been used often, and STILL hits me, is this:

"What moves those of genius, or rather what inspires their work is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough."

-Eugene Delacroix


What does this quote mean to us? We just quilt.


Everywhere I turn, people quilt these days. I read that the surge of the quilting comeback happened around the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976, though I doubt we had a serious lull around here. A study almost 5 years ago done to document the economic and time investment in quilting has some staggering statistics. Quilting in America 2010 says that in just the U.S. there are more than 21 million active quilters, and we spent $3.58 billion that year . What could possibly inspire so many women, men, and children to sew together some fabric in a pattern that most likely has been made hundreds of thousands of times before?


It's not pressure from their mothers. You can't force kids to sew--I know. I propose it's the emotional response that draws us to quilting. We need to produce art. Art, you say? We're just quilters. Yes. The argument can be made that quilting is a craft vs. an art, but I will argue on the side of art.

Drawing on my homeschooling memories here, and simply put: Early man crafted tools because he needed them, but we didn't start finding art objects until early man had settled into an agrarian or farming lifestyle, and had specialized jobs. They didn't have to run after their food, and different people did different jobs. When the work was shared, they had extra time--a huge luxury back then, and even now for us. Art objects started popping up around this time.

It's the same now. When the work is done, we relax, and we enjoy life. We take the time to express ourselves with a beautiful object--something pleasing to the eye. Now, think about this in terms of your free time and your quilting.

Even a few generations before us frugally repurposed fabrics into quilts. Many used feed sacks for quilt tops and clothes. They needed to be warm. The purpose drove the craft. BUT, when the person stopped to look at her materials on hand, and organized them in her mind to a pattern that pleased her or him, it shifted to art. Something made purely for the aesthetic, or the beauty of it.

Aren't we contributing creative work that is using color, pattern, and composition that was already done somewhere/sometime before? And yet we are compelled, obsessed even, to do this, time after time, quilt after quilt. It's makes me wonder why.


What do you think? Are quilters artists? Is our work art? 

We have quilt shows similar to art shows. We hang quilts on walls just to look at. Many people pay a lot of money for quilts. Is it craft or art?

Okay, enough here. Maybe it's what you believe it to be. But if it IS art, I tell you, think like an artist. Be inspired by music, nature, your family, or a memory, and infuse it in your quilting. You may see a difference in how other people perceive your art, I mean quilt.

May your weekend be restful. The Doxie girls and I are going for a quiet walk in the garden.


Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go out.

5 comments:

  1. You had me at wonky and scraps :)

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  2. Boy, that quote really hit home! Not saying I'm genius, but maybe I'm aspiring to be -- ha! I thoroughly enjoy your blog, and the adventures of the Dixie girls.

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  3. This is an interesting post. I don't usually think of my quilting as art and maybe that is because I know a lot of "art quilters" and I have no desire to do what they do. But I suppose there is an art to the quilting I do. The choosing of colours and deciding how to put them together. I like the quote . I have often noticed that artists tend to work in series. Tweaking what they have done and making many slightly different versions. Kim at Leeland Ave. Studios refers to quilting as a place where art meets craft (or something like that) and that really resonates with me.

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  4. this is my favorite kind of piecing...just hand cut what i like and strip everything together.....not thinking about straight at all. in fact the more wonky the better......it does not require and stress, math or thinking and i can just relax and see what amazing wonky quilt goodness appears on my sewing machine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. this is my favorite kind of piecing...just hand cut what i like and strip everything together.....not thinking about straight at all. in fact the more wonky the better......it does not require and stress, math or thinking and i can just relax and see what amazing wonky quilt goodness appears on my sewing machine.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for sharing your ideas and comments. It's always enlightening to hear what you think, or if you have a suggestions. Some of you really make my day with your wit! I admit I struggle to keep up with replies during busy times, but it's because I'm working on new things to share with you. Give me a shout with anything urgent at julie@pinkdoxies.com, and I'll try to get right back with you.

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Julie