Saturday, July 08, 2006


I've enountered a number of discussions lately on what makes an art quilt a successful art quilt. In this relatively new art arena (in the scope of centuries, that is) it is not surprising that there are many different views on this.

Ricky Tims has posted something about the value of workmanship in art quilts on his website that is well worth reading and considering. Check it out here.

My views have tended to evolve. But at the moment, I have reduced the issue to this: a "good" art quilt is one in which the concept, the composition, the techniques, and the materials all work together to convey something. I find myself lately looking at art quilts and thinking, "why is this BETTER because it's in fabric?" In the art quilts I admire most, I find that there is some aspect which is different from what could be done with painting or paper collage or an ink print, and the quilt's imagery wouldn't be the same or as successful if it were not a layered, sewn, fabric piece.

Anyway. Well worth thinking about. Rayna Gillman has also started an interesting discussion, and you can pop into that here.


  1. I wholeheartedly endorse Ricky's comments on the value of workmanship. I've made a lot of cot quilts in my quilting life precisely to experiment with new techniques and to hone my technical skills be it piecing, applique, quilting or binding. There's still lots of room for improvement but it's worth striving for. One of the things that impressed me with Dianne Firth's quilts on display the this year's Sydney Quilt Show was the finish - her binding/borders were just exquisite.
    Brenda - an aspirational quilter!

  2. I agree with you that workmanship is definitely important. There is a big difference between a macaroni sculpture from a two year old and one from a twelve year old.

    I also agree that you should choose the best medium that will say what you want to in your artwork. However, if you happen to be able to sew, and not able to paint, then you should be able to choose the medium that you can show the best workmanship. So if the same theme can be presented in either medium, you can choose the one you are most qualified to use.

  3. There is that old adage: If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well!

  4. I very much like your question "Is it better because it's in fabric?" Quilts that try to imitate paintings or photographs don't do it for me. Another question might be "Does it illustrate excellence in some of the basic skills of quilt making?" (And I don't think fusing is one of those basic skills.) On the other hand, you can sew beautifully and not make art.

    Thanks for the links and the discussion.

  5. Kay, I agree with you that quilt art should include excellence in the techniques it uses. But I disagree that fusing isn't a basic skill of quilt making. It's a NEW one, just as machine piecing and then machine quilting were at one time, and rotary cutting, too. Fusing is new and different, but to my mind it's just as valid a technique as any other. And it should be done well and with mastery if it's going to be used. In my very humble opinion. (grin)