Friday, November 03, 2006

Anything Goes

When I tried making my first art quilt, I soon realized that I had a lot to learn about the myriad styles and techniques. I'm still in the process of educating myself. There's a quilting show on cable (HGTV) called Simply Quilts that I watch religiously every morning (perhaps as part of the viewing audience of this show, I belong to a greater quilting guild). I'm always amazed and inspired by what women (and a few men) all over the country are doing with fabric.

And that's the beauty of quilting, there's no wrong way of doing it and so many ways to express yourself that the possibilities are endless. The other thing that I love about it is that there are no timetables to follow. You can take as long as you want. Some people come on the cable show and talk about how one quilt may have taken years to complete. They get to it when they can, and that's alright. And other people are not so patient and so they've developed ways to make quick creations to satisfy their craving for instant gratification.

I like the traditional techniques because they require you to slow down and pay attention to detail, to take exact measurements and to work within certain guidelines, much like playing classical music. But the new techniques are like jazz because they are vibrant and dynamic and forgiving. I believe my friend John is quoting Miles Davis when he says "two mistakes make jazz." That's what it feels like to me when I'm experimenting with something new and I go down a path that doesn't quite work out, but somehow I recover and the piece improves from my mistake. Perhaps it's no coincidence that my preferred music to quilt to is straight up jazz.

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