Sunday, June 15, 2008

New Jersey Quilt Convention

I went with a bus load of others from the Empire Quilt Guild to the New Jersey Quilt Convention in Raritan, New Jersey yesterday. The show was a large one, the quilts were largely contemporary-traditional, not really art quilts, though a few that could be considered art quilts were amongst them. The quality of the work, the choices and the innovative variation of traditional designs was all excellent. It was a fine show and there was a very good collection of venders with booths full of tempting fabrics, notions and miscellaneous wonders. The only crummy thing was the quality of the available lunch foods and their marked up prices.

The picture above is not my favorite quilt, I don't know that I had a favorite -- I was very drawn to a couple of 'Stack and Whack" ones, because that technique totally fascinates me and at least one of them stays in my head so that I'm going to try to do one with the same layout -- which will be entirely different simply by virtue of whatever fabric I choose. I am drawn to how one can manipulate design in a way that is essentially random and come up with patterns that are strong but unplanned -- the suprise factor that I'm so fond of.

Anyway, this picture illustrates the brighter color choices which, I'm happy to say were abundant because they are so lively and visually exciting, but which did not overwhelm the show because there were many much quieter, more traditional color combinations. Which is why I took the second picture although photographically it's quite awkward -- to show that usually the curators of the show balanced restrained and bright quilts in way that made viewing the show comfortable and comprehensible. Although lighting in very large exhibition halls is never ideal for viewing quilts [the halls are multi-purpose after all] the light there was not bad.

The show was not as well attended as most of us expected. This made viewing more comfortable than if it had been more crowded. But one of our experienced and astute women said that she sees the quilting trend/fad being replaced by knitting in terms of placement of books in bookstores, and popularity in the general press. I think she is right, which pains me as I find knitting boring and graceless.

It's hardly an astute observation on the subject but when I think of someone knitting rather than doing hand sewing I think of Ibsen's having given Torvald Helmer a line to his "doll" Nora [in A Doll's House] about how much more graceful the motion of sewing and pulling the thread through is than the busy clacking chatter of knitting needles at work. Of course, Nora wanted nothing to do with either and we all cheer her for that. But I digress. We quilters are an addicted lot and we'll keep right on making our creations even when our closets are stuffed with more quilts than we'll need in our lifetimes and when our stashes are taking over the rest of the closet space. For me a day spent looking at quilts is a very good day indeed.


Anonymous said...

I like the one with the flowers on it - was it made up of hexagons? I used to make cushion covers when i was younger and I've set myself the challenge of making a quilt (as part of 101 things in 1001 days) so hopefully by March 2011 I will have made my own quilt.

Helen Conway said...

Lucky lucky you - I love quilt shsows and there are not enough of them here. (Once a weekend would be about right :) We have the same lunch food problem though!