Nearly every artist I know has one thing in common—they all share a passion for collections. There is something soothing about grouping common things together, making sense of chaos by creating order where it didn’t exist before. The acts of compiling, sorting, arranging, displaying, and eventually disassembling a collection are, indeed, acts of creation. Our collections reflect our interests, confirm our insecurities, shed light on our values, and add context to the narrative of our lives. And we are not alone in this trait. After all, bowerbirds, magpies, and crows are known for collecting things of beauty.
Many art quilters have collections distinctive to our craft: we amass fabrics, buttons, beads, and threads. We buy paints, brushes, dyes, and stamps. We find unique embellishments wherever we go. Once, on a daytrip to a quilt show with my art quilt group, we stumbled on a treasure trove of flattened bottle caps in the commuter parking lot near our highway meeting spot. Needless to say, we pocketed those treasures like magpies, but not before taking a rubbing of the sewer cover nearby and photographing the excursion for our blog.
But after the joy of the hunt is over, the reality of maintaining a collection is faced. What do we do with it? Why not make a quilt?
This issue of Quilting Arts is filled with examples of how our contributors use what they collect in their artwork. Their commitment to repurposing their resources is commendable. Treasured scraps of hand-dyed fabrics are the backbones of Cindy Grisdela’s improv blocks. Found metal objects are wrapped along with botanicals in the eco-dyed fabric pouches made by Maggie Vanderweit, leaving behind unique marks. Painted papers, metal hardware cloth, repurposed zippers, and hand-dyed threads are incorporated into Libby Williamson’s mixed-media collages. And check out Susan Brubaker Knapp’s collection of embellishment techniques. The possibilities are endless.
Suddenly, my collection of bottle caps doesn’t look quite so out of place. After all, I am a magpie.
SAQA Presents Modern Inspirations 1970 to Now
“Our urge to create is a deep-seated human trait. Many things influence and inspire us as artists. Sometimes the inspiration is clear, and sometimes it is built out of a lifetime of events. The art quilt movement preceded and continues in parallel with the modern quilt movement. Many artists happily see themselves as members of both groups. Studying the art quilts that were created in prior decades has been a fascinating process. I hope that seeing these works will lead you to new heights of creativity in your own work.” Excerpted from the article by Martha Sielman
Word: A Selection of Quilts from Viewpoints 9 Artists
“’Word’ is the fourth series from the international fiber art group, Viewpoints 9. Now entering their seventh year collaborating on a virtual artistic journey, artists consider a single word prompt for inspiration in our bimonthly challenges. Selections from the Home, Migrant, and Serenity challenges premiered at the International Quilt Festival, Houston, in 2017.” Excerpted from the gallery.
Make Meaning in Your Quilts
“In my work, I create what I call a “scaffolding” of fabric, piecing, and quilting that allows me to reference many ideas on a single plane and adds meaning to each quilt. The raw materials are textiles from domestic culture, fashion, family heirlooms, and scavenged prints.” Excerpted from the article by Heidi Parkes.
From the Dye Studio: Wrap & Roll
“Wrap and rust dyeing is a fabulous, unpredictable surface design process that uses the exciting natural pigments in specific botanical materials to create unique contact prints. We all know that rust can stain fabric, but combine it with leaves, seeds, flowers, roots, and stems wrapped in tight bundles of prepared-for-dyeing (PFD) cloth (plus mordants, heat, vinegar, and water) and you’ll get some stunning results.” Excerpted from the article by Maggie Vanderweit.
From Trash to Treasure: Recycling Studio Leftovers
“I dabble in many materials and techniques; my curiosity takes me in lots of different directions, and I find it productive to allow myself to play and experiment. As a result, I end up with lots of bits and pieces of stuff that are lovely, but I don’t quite know what to do with them. I’ve recently discovered that this detritus can find a home—in mixed-media fiber art pieces.” Excerpted from the article by Susan Brubaker Knapp.
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