The Machine Quilting Expo in Providence, R.I. which I saw Thursday was one of the best shows I've attended for several reasons: the venue was just the right size for the show, the lighting was the best I've seen and there were not too many quilts to really look at and enjoy. On the other hand, I consider machine quilting such as is practiced now and was very, very much on show there, a totally different genre of quilting -- one I do not aspire to but can look at with astonishment while I try to balance my aesthetic reactions. Mostly I think, as a new technology, many people are going overboard and not balancing the graphic appeal of the quilt with the extreme quilting. More about that another time.
The above quilt is by Barbara McKie whose pictorial quilts I've been looking at for 25 years. She embraces technology and strives to make the most of it to create a picture. Sometimes I've felt she has more technical expertise than aesthetic taste. In the case of "White Winged Dove" she has thread painted the head and breast brilliantly [click to enlarge and then click again to double enlarge]. The background of the piece is machine quilted in a way I found distracting. There were half a dozen bird quilts done the same way, with intricately thread painted and/or quilted birds and a background of leaves that was distracting, they were by various people. This was the most magnificent of the birds. This vase of flowers is aesthetically blah, it was done by a group. The workmanship was fascinating, the flowers are three dimensional of lighter weight fabrics. My camera is not sensitive enough to capture the dimensionality which I thought was masterful. Again two clicks will help you appreciate it. And you'll see some of the fairly typical dense machine quilting on the background. I took a dozen pictures [a lot for me - partly because the audience was sparse enough so I didn't have to juggle space to take a picture]. This is an example of white work done entirely by machine with no 1/8 of an inch not quilted -- it's impossible to show the astonishing amount of work by Cindy Needham who was the featured quilter with many white work quilts each more elaborate than the other -- all in a tasteful way. They are masterpieces of over-quilting. What Cindy, and quite a few other quilters. are doing with whole cloth quilts is mind bloggling. Just thinking of the hours they spent being extremely precise! For my part, I cannot conceive why anyone would do this but obviously there are people who must enjoy it.
Besides many white work, whole cloth quilts in intricate patterns, there were many black and dark colored ones on which great varieties of colored and metallic threads were used. Miles!!! Truly, miles of thread. Not many appealed to me and I knew I could not hope to capture them on my camera so I took no pictures of them.
Likewise many traditional or contemporary quilts were heavily machine quilted, sometimes to good effect and sometimes the quilting so overshadowed the quilt itself one felt sad about all that work to an ugly end. This is all a matter of people finding a balance as this new technology is available. More on that another day.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!