Saturday, October 6, 2012

What is a Quilt?

My guild is proposing a new exhibition category called Abstract Art Quilts. They are going to be allowing entries with only two layers in this category only. I'm curious as to how other people/guilds view 'two-layer' quilts.

In my time on the exhibition committee the emphasis was always on the traditional definition. Under the Conditions of Entry published in the handbook, No.5 states "A quilt is defined as three layers of material held together by stitching at regular intervals, or by being tied at regular intervals." Is it proper to change that definition for one special-interest category? Can two-layer and three-layer items be properly judged next to each other? Can quilters entering in other categories make the case that they should be allowed two-layered items? Can a traditional quilt compete with an abstract art quilt for 'Best of Show'? Should they be in competition?

My Grandmother made this queen size quilt.
 noun \ˈkwilt\
Definition of QUILT
a : a bed coverlet of two layers of cloth filled with padding (as down or batting) held in place by ties or stitched designs
b : patchwork quilt 1
: something that is quilted or resembles a quilt quilt
 of houses and parks>
Origin of QUILT
Middle English quilte mattress, quilt, from Anglo-Frenchcoilte, from Latin culcita mattress
First Known Use: 14th century

My Great Grandmother made this double bed quilt.
Definition of QUILT
transitive verb
a : to fill, pad, or line like a quilt
(1) : to stitch, sew, or cover with lines or patterns like those used in quilts (2) : to stitch (designs) through layers of cloth
c : to fasten between two pieces of material
: to stitch or sew in layers with padding in between
intransitive verb
: to make quilts
: to do quilted work
 quilt·er noun
First Known Use of QUILT

Quilting has been moving in exciting directions in recent years. We have seen the rise of new quilting styles like the Modern Quilt movement. Quilts are being recognised as great works of art and being sold for sums of money reflecting their true worth. There are new embellishing techniques and media other than textiles being used (i.e. pencils and paint). This is a great era to be a quilter. There are no bounds to what can be done.
Small quilt I made.
But at what point does a quilt stop being a quilt and become textile art? How does a guild dedicated to promoting the "quilt" deal with members who fit more properly in to the textile art category? Do they simply change the definition of quilt to pander? Or do you think they change the definition of quilt because how we quilt is truly evolving? There are certainly many historical examples of two-layer patchwork 'coverlets' that were viewed as quilts in their day. In our warm Australian climate does every quilt need to have wadding?

8" Art (?) Quilt made by me.
Purists will always have difficulties with change. But are we "throwing the baby out with the bathwater?" (i.e. too quick to discard something valuable.)

These are all interesting ideas and questions. I would love to have some feedback with your opinions.

From Wikipedia - Making Quilt Art:

A quilted work of art is generally defined as two layers of cloth held together by stitching. In most cases, a middle batting layer made of polyester, cotton, wool or silk is also incorporated.
Although quilt art originated in traditional quilting techniques, quilt artists now may use many different processes to create their artwork, including paintingdyeing, stamping, piecing, collage, printing (often incorporating a photograph printed onto fabric), appliqué, and other complex cloth processes.
Addendum: I had tea with a lovely non-quilting friend last night and briefly explained the issues. She stated that it would water down the essence of what a quilt is. What do you think?


Maree: said...

Can see where you get your Genes for Quilting Shari.. Your GrandMother's did Wonderful work..Their Quilts are Beautiful.
Thanks For the History...

QuiltSue said...

Call me old-fashioned, but to me a quilt is 3 layers, held together either by stitching or tying and they go on beds or chairs.

Yes, I can admire some things about art quilts, but I really do not feel they can/should be judged against traditional quilts. I feel they are too different and maybe either should have separate shows or separate categories. And how on earth do you decide one type is better than the other for the best in show type of awards?

OK, I'd better get down off my soap box now.

Allie said...

Well I see where your quilting genes come from, those quilts are just gorgeous! And I love your little apples.

I'm not sure art quilts and traditional quilts should be judged together. Same with two-layer art pieces. Although summer quilts were traditionally made using two layers. The term "quilt" encompasses ALL quilted items, but I think it would be helpful to be more defining for a show.

My first quilt was traditional, very simple, all by hand. My second quilt was a 6ft long painted art piece! It did have batting and was hand-quilted, but it was all done using acrylic paints on one big piece of sheeting. I never viewed it as the same thing as my first, traditional, quilt. It seemed to be an entirely different creation.

I'm pretty simple in how I define quilts nowadays - it's either a bed quilt or a wall quilt, lol!

Rachaeldaisy said...

I can see quilt making runs in the family! Such beautiful quilts!! I can't help but think a two layer quilt still needs to be quilted or tied so it's still a quilt. It's a little odd putting them in the art quilt section only because some 2 layer coverlets are very traditional. I guess there's so many variations and styles its hard to catergorise all styles, there will always be exceptions. Your post really has me thinking though. Thanks for all the information you included.

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