I don’t know about you, but all of my life, I have collected things…lots of things. From tiny scraps of paper with interesting markings to chunks of driftwood that have washed onto the beach. When will I ever need a 50-pound tree stump? Never. But I still find myself scanning the smooth gray wood and wondering how I could use it in my garden or as part of the décor in my studio. At some point, it is almost as if the object is not important, but the act of collecting is. Case in point: from where I sit in my studio I see a Mason jar filled nearly to the brim with white buttons—and another holding sea shells from three continents. Both are still “collections in progress.” To my left is a box of stamps from the 1940s, a container of wooden spools, multiple woodpecker feathers, and an assortment of rubber bands. My studio runneth over.
But in the midst of all this stuff is the artist who curated, created, and yes—even culled—this amazing collection of collections. Why? Because the visual stimulation of being surrounded by things I love gets my creative juices flowing. I look at the glassine envelope with black-and-white speckled feathers and see an improv quilt block waiting to be pieced. The jar of pearly white buttons sets my mind in motion designing a neutral color palette for a future project. And have you ever really looked at postage stamps? They can be simultaneously complex and simple, and yet we overlook their beauty because they are so small.
Each of us finds a source of inspiration as we create collections every day, and they don’t have to be quite as bulky or take up space like the ones in my studio. Just take a look at a Pinterest board, your Facebook feed, or even the photo app on your phone. You’ll find a 21st-century curiosity shop full of curated collections at your fingertips.
This issue of Modern Patchwork offers a peek into the world of several quilters whose work is influencing the direction of modern quilting. We’ll learn about designers who create fabric collections using surface design techniques, quilters who play with scale by making miniscule pieced masterpieces, and artists who masterfully reinterpret traditional themes in their award-winning quilts. Their work is bold, creative, and innovative, yet it was built with technology they learned (in essence, collected) and then explored without the usual boundaries. I could make the argument that their innovation— and their genius—is as much about pushing the limits of creativity as it is about quilting.
It is an honor to share my most recent collection with you: the articles and projects in this issue of Modern Patchwork. As you explore the themes of size, scale, and design, I hope you take a look at your own collections—either virtual or physical—and ask yourself how inspiration can push you to explore your own creative limits.
Working Small: The New Big Thing
“Confession: I have a really hard time making small quilts, even baby quilts. I’m a Go-King-or-Go-Home kind of girl. That is, until recently. I have become a convert to the joy of small piecing. Small piecing is a relative term but, generally, it refers to pieces finishing at 1″–3″, sometimes even tinier.” Excerpted from the article by Cheryl Arkison
Making it Yours: Design Your Own Fabric
“Occasionally, the vast selection of commercially available fabric isn’t quite what a modern quilter is looking for: the colors may be too bright or too dull, a particular print just isn’t available, and they are left high and dry. Not a problem! Why not consider designing and printing your own custom fabric?” Excerpted from the article by Jessica Farthing
Print Your Own Fabric Melly Style
“Printing your own quilting fabrics is so much fun: it adds a level of personalization that is uniquely your own. You can choose to print enough fabric for an entire quilt top, or just a small portion of cloth and supplement the remaining fabrics from your stash.” Excerpted from the article by Melanie Testa
Made Modern: On Difference + Continuity
“In 1863, the first Salon des Refuses was launched in protest over what was considered overly conservative jurying for the annual Paris Salon exhibition, and set off a schism in the art world that would have widereaching effects.” Excerpted from the article by Thomas Knauer
Elements of Modern Style: Foundation + Technique
“Contrast in quilt design occurs when two elements in a quilt are markedly different—wide strips against small strips or large sections of a solid color against a small accent print, for example. Color choices are another option to use contrast. As quilt designers, determining a color palette is a critical time to focus on contrast.” Excerpted from the article by Riane Menardi
All About Bark Cloth
“What is bark cloth? Describing a fabric as bark cloth has more to do with the texture of the weave than with the fiber content. Originally made by beating the inner bark of trees into a paper-like sheet, bark cloth now is a cotton or cotton blend fabric with a nubby surface that mimics the tree bark texture. When examined closely, the weave of this substrate appears random and mottled, adding to its relaxed appeal.” Excerpted from the article by Modern Patchwork
Meet Pamela Wiley
“Pamela Wiley views her work as modern quilts that are also fine art pieces. ‘I really think the modern quilt movement has raised the visual literacy of how we look at things, how we work with color and line,’ she explains. ‘We’re in a time now where we get to dissolve those parameters and feed off one another. I think art is stronger when you think like a quilter and quilting is stronger when you think like an artist.’” Excerpted from the article by Abby Glassenberg
Quilts & Projects
Don’t forget to download your templates!
Simply click on the picture to download and print the full-size templates for this project.