Exuberant and Untidy!

Look carefully at this exuberant and out-of-control quilt top–it is a big quilt top measuring 64″ x 84″!

After sitting through a long-winded description and proscription on how to best please quilt judges, I was ready for another version of reality. Those of us who don’t see quilting as a “competitive sport” need to be heard too. For me, what is valuable is the sharing of our quilts and our enthusiasms that create community and the strong bonds quilters share with each other. I do not believe that we need the suggestions from a quilt judge to know where we need to improve our skills. In fact, I am proud of quilters like our talented friend, LoVina, who resisted all efforts to change her improvisational style which would never be approved by any certified quilt judge.

Quote by Mark Twain: “Comparison is the death of joy.”

I tend to agree with Twain–competition and comparisons breed resentment and ill-will. Comparisons are never useful. As the quilt judge explained over and over, each quilt is compared to the others in its category, and then ranked. Why? Who does this serve? Do you really want that polyester ribbon? I know we can admire the skills, efforts, talents and imagination of every quilter without raising up or belittling anyone. Our creative selves express infinite variety.

“Please yourself and at least one will be well satisfied.”

As the Irish saying I once heard mentioned on NPR goes, “Please yourself and at least one will be well satisfied”. Just forget what a quilt judge would say–that is my advice. I like quilts with personality! Let me see your personality in every quilt you stitch! Here is a quilt loaded with personality! I’m tentatively calling it “Gees Paw” because it reminds me of the Gees Bend creations and because of the 15″ bears paw block. It is a big top! I’m still trying to figure out the decade of the newest fabric to help me date this top. Do not see any batiks, so that helps.

My friend (A.A.) wrote, “You probably noticed the two blocks in one of the paws turned the wrong way. Adds charm …. but it would probably bug me until I took it apart and rotated them.” I had noticed, but I replied “that the block ‘switcheroo’ does not bother me as much as the multiple clashing sashing. But I’ve decided to leave it all alone. It has its own charm as it is…..”

Exuberant energy with excessive personality!

Carefree placement! She included plaids, stripes, seersucker, ombres, dots, solids, small, medium and large scale prints and three different clashing sashing fabrics–what nerve she possessed.

Perhaps I was drawn to this top, in part, because the quilt maker had consistently used several turquoise fabrics at the center of each of the 15″ blocks. For the past two years I’ve noticed how most of my quilts have some turquoise in them. Once I quilt Gees Paw, I will have to think carefully about what to use for binding–that will be a fun challenge! Do I want to go subtle or bold? What would you do? Any suggestions?

I hope you will come both days, April 5 & 6 to our big quilt show in Springdale sponsored by QUILT of Northwest Arkansas https://quiltguildnwa.edublogs.org/ Please join us that weekend (Friday & Saturday). With over three hundred quilts in the show and a special exhibit of hand quilted quilts, you can spend the day with us and enjoy a lunch from Spring Street Grill.

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9 Responses to Exuberant and Untidy!

  1. debby oldenburg says:

    adore this quilt top…joyfull and so fun.

  2. Paula says:

    Debby, thanks for a new word to describe this quilt top–yes, it is joyful! I don’t believe this woman was fretting about getting “points to match” or what a quilt judge might expect of her.

  3. Yes! Lovina could have made that quilt!
    All the quilts I entered this time are give away quilts and I was not going to have them judged. I did think they were interesting and might give others inspiration to make one themselves. I finally decided to have most of them judged because I had encouraged my Queen’s Apprentices(beginner class a couple of years ago) to step out of their comfort zone and have their quilts judged. They would get back both positive feedback and ways to improve. I felt kind of hypocritical not to have mine judged. I won a ribbon! Not sure what place because I was just listening to the winning names and celebrating their success. You feeed me up when I took a class from you when you said I did not have to have my quilts judged. It became my choice.

  4. Lila says:

    This quilt is delightful! So much energy and rhythm!
    I love all you wrote about judging and comparing our creative experiences/expressions!

    You have found a real treasure in this quilt top and it will be even more interesting and wonderful once you have quilted it an added a binding!

  5. Paula says:

    Kathy and Lila,
    Thanks to each of you for your enthusiastic responses. Vibrant energy is what I see in my Gee’s Paw quilt too. As women, we are so often told (in many ways) to restrain ourselves. Why not “break loose” and experiment in our quilts? I was in bed last night wondering about who made this top, when and where…. And of course why it wasn’t finished and who decided to give it away. Perhaps that person was hoping it would find a good home with someone who would appreciate it. I was lucky to have some extra time that day to stop and browse. You never know what could be waiting for you.

  6. Natalie McCrory says:

    This quilt is lovely and interesting! Vibrant energy really is captured in it. I love the old quilts and always wonder about their makers. That’s why I enjoy signature quilts and researching them.

    As far as having quilts judged, I do like to get another opinion of what is either good or not so good about what I make. For me it’s not about competing or winning ribbons but rather getting another perspective about a quilt’s visual impact and color choices. I see the critiquing as a way to hold myself accountable for doing good quality work and to keep myself on track rather than trying to compete against anyone else. I do see, though, how the judging process can breed a negative attitude amongst friends. At the same time, I believe that there will be something lovely and of merit in EVERY quilt in our upcoming show.

    You’re absolutely correct that some of the most amazing quilts made (and I realize that I’m sort of putting words in your mouth here) would never pass a quilt judge’s inspection. I love the quote about pleasing yourself. There’s a lot of truth in that.

    Thank you for your wisdom and insight! Whether you ever have your quilts judged or not, I LOVE your creations.

    • Paula says:

      Natalie, I appreciate your thoughtful reply and your description of how you use the judging process “to hold myself accountable for doing good quality work and to keep myself on track”. I’m glad the judging is a useful tool for you.

      Your quilts often astound me in their creativity. Some of the geometric challenges you have accomplished are well beyond my skills.

      Your paraphrasing of my thoughts about the fabulous quilts which exist beyond the “rules” was quite accurate–old and new, we can learn much from admiring all sorts of quilts.
      Thank you for your words of appreciation about my own quilts–your opinion matters to me more than any certified judge’s opinion!!

  7. Donna Thomas says:

    You do beautiful work, Paula. I always learn something from you! Hope to see you tomorrow! Donna Thomas

  8. Paula says:

    Donna, Thank you for the compliment. As they say “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, so we must be on similar “wave lengths” about what draws us in. I’m expecting to learn much over the course of our three days of the show–this counts the Thursday set-up because much happens that day also.

    I believe we take in all we see, all we hear, and all we feel at quilt shows like this one. Those impressions are stored in our memories just waiting to be reinterpreted at a later date. We can then add them to our own stores of creativity. Looking forward to our immersion in quilts and quilting….

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