Friday, April 01, 2011

Dumbing Down Quilting, My Thoughts

All right, so I just wrote out a long(ish) comment on Jacquie's blog about the great Dumbing Down Quilting debate, and it got eaten. Honestly, I don't even think it's a debate. For some reason, some quilters have set up dividing lines in their minds about "us" and "them" and people are mostly talking past each other. I hope that we are able to listen and hear each other, because seriously why should there even be a discussion like this? (Oh, if you don't know what I'm talking about? Google "dumbing down quilting" and you can find out for yourself.)

Anyway, here's what I think about what I read tonight and last night. There are a lot of women criticizing the younger/modern/contemporary quilt bloggers for "dumbing down" quilting. They are saying they keep seeing the "same 7 quilts" on quilt blogs, that people are using too much negative space or white or gray, that the new, modern quilter's aren't interested in improving their skills. The criticisms even went as far as saying that certain modern quilt styles are ugly.

I honestly don't think these people are actually spending any time actually reading any modern quilting blogs, at least not enough to get a sense of what one person's body of work or time spent on quilting is actually like. I read a lot of modern quilt blogs and I have for a few years now. People are not making the same 7 quilts. Wonky log cabins, done right, aren't easy or lazy. White and gray solids in quilts look great, and if you don't like it, why do you feel the need to cut other people down? And finally, this is the one that really rubs me wrong, is the assertion that younger/newer/modern quilters don't care about improving their skills. The quilters I know, and the ones who I know through their blogs, and myself, we are all trying to improve our quilting skills! How dare you suggest that just because we like white, or are intrigued by the look of a wonky star block, or we want to make quick projects (because sometimes these seemingly quick projects become amazingly time consuming when we have to fit them in between toddlers, school age kids, and the rest of our lives), that we don't care to improve our skills. It's just rude to say that, and it's not true.

I challenge any of the traditional quilters who commented about us lazy modern quilters to spend some time trying to get to know us, to subscribe to some of our blogs and look through our photos on flickr to see how our work has grown and changes, and try to really see the effort, care, and skill that we are using in our work. Try to appreciate a different aesthetic, and if it's still not for you, then at least have the courtesy to stop criticizing our work just because it's different from yours.

(Wishes all quilters could just get along and support each other in our common love for fabric/thread/design. But hey this makes life a little more interesting, right?)

29 comments:

Melissa said...

My sentiments, exactly. Well said, Vicki.

Tam Van said...

you should get paid for that writing. well said who r these old bags they should be glad there still r quilters out there quilting instead of letting the craft die.

amylouwho said...

I've been reading all the self-important comments on the original post and find it v. sad. My mom is an amazing traditional quilted and although I may not always love her color choices I am always amazed by her precision and detail. Likewise she doesn't always agree with my choices but encourages me to keep doin what I like. We have learned a lit from each other even if we don't always agree.

Because there is a new generation of quilters, this movement is bound to evolve. It's too bad that potential mentors are making themselves unapproachable by behaving his way.

Simple designs are still beautiful. Young moms without a lot of uninterrupted alone time need a creative outlet. Cut us some slack.

Love you Vicki for posting how feel!

amylouwho said...

Sorry for the typos!

Vicki said...

I love you all but especially my sister. xo Tam.

liz said...

Thank you Vicki! Very well said, I agree completely!

Auburnchick said...

Well said. I was saddened and discouraged by the original post (found it by Googling). The main thing that drew me to quilting was all of the beautiful fabrics, the use of solids and white space and the design esthetics that younger, "modern" quilters bring to the craft. While I can appreciate the skill and craft that goes into some "traditional" quilts, most are not something that I would want gracing my couch or my bed - they simply don't speak to me. Art, in whatever form - paintings, sculpture, quilts - is subjective. One person's Van Gogh is someone else's GoodWill donation.

And, um.. I *like* wonky log cabins.

Eileen said...

i'm an old lady, i'm mostly a traditional quilter, but i am so inspired by all sorts of quilting and personally, while often the colors and sometimes the designs in modern work don't ring my bell, i can see the beauty in the simplicity of it. i also think none of you need to apologize for the time you don't have--how wonderful you are so creative and have children running around. how wonderful we're not all the same--wouldn't that be boring as heck?!!!!!!!

Barbara said...

Well said. I have never seen an ugly quilt - whatever style. I like them all.

Colleen said...

very well written

angela said...

I've been following this crazy thing from the start. You summed it up quite nicely. And just a quick skim of many modern quilt blogs will find people trying new things and seeking improvement every day!

Seriously, this is a hobby - and what anybody else does shouldn't threaten your own enjoyment of it. I don't really like a majority of 'quilt show quilts' but I'm not going to rage and tell them to stop it! Make what you love and have fun. Camille's post likening it to a biking hobby was right on the money.

(And just for the record, the wonky log cabin blocks are some of the most time consuming blocks I've made!)

Judy said...

I am just grateful there are young quilters keeping the art alive in any form, modern or traditional. The same has come up with knitting and again, whatever it takes to keep these skills alive.

Sharon said...

I haven't been reading the comments but you need to realize that whenever anyone criticizes another's style it's because of her (sometimes his) own insecurities. Why would it even matter unless they feel threatened in some crazy way?

Tina said...

Quilting is about doing what you want to do what makes you happy. I don't think anyone should judge anyone else It's about your owne creativity and what makes you happy. I don't care what anyone else thinks as long as I found Joy in the journy.

LittleBook said...

You can't see it, but I'm giving you a round of standing applause. Modern v. traditional isn't an issue. Dumbing down isn't an issue. It is taking a hobby and doing with it what you enjoy. I enjoy the version of quilting that I do, why would someone feel the need to criticize me or the bloggers I follow for that?

sara k said...

agreed - i think it also boils down to people's personal taste and what they perceive as being easy. Improv is not always easy when you are trying to fit a lot of different fabric patterns / shapes together. I also don't think my only opportunity to improve my skills is by doing an advanced 'traditional' pattern - i believe my brain works even harder dreaming up my own design and then figuring out how to make it all come together mathematically without ever using a pattern. But, this is purely my own opinion. I am as turned off by traditional 'following a pattern' blocks as they are by negative space and thinking on their own. But, my 80 year old grandmother and hand-quilter of wedding rings, samplers and more has told me that my improv quilts are like works of art that deserve a spot on a wall. I love and cherish what she has done too, it just isn't what I want to work on (with kids, jobs, etc :). Thanks for sharing!

Blue Is Bleu said...

I'd commented on Jacquie's blog post and to reiterate, I think when it comes to art and quilts, it's all subjective. And I agree that wonky / modern styles can sometimes be more time-consuming because they really are! I can't chain-piece if I'm making each block differently, nor do I actually know what I'm going to end up with most of the time.

Joann said...

I'm older and have been quilting for maybe 5 years. I read a lot of blogs and find so much inspiration in many of them and if the truth be told it mostly comes from the younger quilters. They have fresh ideas and new eyes, but if I want to make a traditional quilt I do. The design of a quilt is up to me and the recipient of the quilt. If it is a gift I try to figure out what I think would please them and sometimes it is a more modern style of quilt. It is very satisfying to give a quilt gift that is appreciated and loved whether traditional or modern in style. I'm thinking these people that feel the need to criticize have to much time on their hands.

Kristal said...

Hi. I am a more traditional quilter. New but not so new to quilting. I absolutly adore the modern side of quilting. I follow a lot of modern quilter blogs. They inspire me. I have never seen a quilt that I didnt think was beautiful. I have seen quilts that just are not my taste, but that does not mean they aren't beautiful or not worth the time to be admired and recognised. Anything someone puts their time and heart into is something beautiful.

Mandy said...

i am jot really a quilter but have done a small pillow size hand sewn quilt, not too greatly either, and a cou[ple of simple quilts...I am so proud of them, because I made them with LOVE..my sister is an amazing quilter, all hand made, her kids are older and she has alot of time, she certainly encouraged my little attempts of quilting....i have 6 kids , younger family and no time...the fact is, like any craft you do it for the love of it, if people are happy with simple quilts that their kids love to wrap their bodies up with because their mummy made it for them, then thats what quilting or crafting is all about...i never really knew anything like this ever happened in the crafting world..take care...xxx

Clothed in Scarlet said...

Oh girl! I had no idea! Let me just say that I think the reason that there has been such revived interest in quilting and other needle work arts, is the fresh approach to the art! Sometimes people associate color with mood and WHO? wants to be that depressing? or joyless? or fun sucking? If I can't learn the craft and have fun while doing it then I'm not interested. I am way past the point of wanting to put up with old self righteous biddies. They have already spent their youthful years doing whatever and now are at a point where they think they can tend to others' knitting.
OH MY! who knew that would touch off such a rant from me;o) I'm so with ya! Sarah

Candied Fabrics said...

I spent a few minutes over there...and all I have to say is that there always will be an uproar about something I remember back when I was first getting into quilting what a BIG BROOHAHA it was when people began machine quilting their quilts, and then when one won best of show a THE SHOW in Paducah - QUELLE HORROR! ;-)

I'm afraid that this "negative nellie" stuff is part of the human species' genome...in every culture, in every genre, there are gonna be people digging their heels in about something. I'd love to see if this will still be true far in the future!

LiahonaGirl said...

I am so thrilled to see a new generation of quilters -- and modern fabrics (although since I lived through the 60s, they are somewhat "retro" to me). I am glad that quilting continues to be popular and that there is yet another style of quilts to admire. While I am mostly a traditional quilter, I love the inspiration coming from these younger quilters because it gives me ideas of quilts I can make for my nieces and nephews (who probably will appreciate the more modern style!)

The Calico Cat said...

Someone else already said it, but I like all quilts. I got to a lot of quilt shows & you can put money on my photographing a New York Beauty - will I ever make one - DOUBT IT!

I like novelties & will continue to try to cram as many as possible into every quilt in my current que.

Kim W said...

I'm a fifty something quilter who was starting to feel a bit stifled with traditional quilting. The modern quilting movement sings to me. I found the first modern quilt I made to be much more difficult than a more structured quilt. And fabric selection although important in both is pivotal in modern quilts. I now do both types of quilting and enjoy them both. As far as finding the same quilts on multiple blogs I was feeling that way with traditional quilt blogs. I'm glad there's room in this world for every type of quilt. I enjoy your blog and thanks for giving us a forum to comment on this.

Christine said...

I appreciate your writing. Not everyone has the same tastes and people have a right to their opinions... We learned all the basics back in kindegarten and we should all just remember to get along. If you can't say something nice about something..maybe you should choose to say nothing at all. I applaud you comments.

harleywife57 said...

Vicki: I agree ! you 'modern' quilters who blog have made me finally start making quilts last year ! I am 53 , a sewer for about 40 or so (can't remember when I started sewing ... I was young --thanks MOM ! ) I never thought I could do and I never did attempt it all by hand because I knew I'd never finish anything I started . I made 5 quilts for Christmas presents and told my husband that there are some quilters who would not think I'm a quilter since I had a long armer do the quilting part . And I hate to admit it but I did the foldover from the back self-binding because I didn't think I could do binding the 'right way ' ; but I have since then and I DID do it the right way with the help of online tutorials by YOUNG quilters with kids !! hah -- those stuffy folks are WRONG . Thanks ; guess I was venting with you !!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment made earlier:

"whenever anyone criticizes another's style it's because of her own insecurities."

Having hunted down the original post, it seems pretty clear to me that it was motivated by jealousy, because other bloggers receive more attention, and to her mind, their skills don't warrant it.

Unknown said...

I agree they are old bags who dont want younger people in there circle. I joined our local quilt guild so that i could learn this art of quilting. I attended the meeting and i was treated as if I was an empty chair. So after a year i quit the guild, I started to spend my time in the quilt stores taking classes and teaching myself. I travel the world and love to see the quilts and ideas from all walks of life. I now test quilt patterns for a designer before it goes to market. If I cant figure something out i check you tube or ask a friend I have met along the way. I have jumped in with both feet and my first quilt was for advanced quilters even though I was a beginner, i never knew the difference. I still consider myself as a beginner quilter but I can figure it out. I love to teach others an want to find people to sew with me all the time even though I am a mom who has to fit modern life in those snippits of time I still have hobbies to pursue.