Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer's End

"A Visit to Provence" ~ copyright Diane Gaudynski,  miniature whole cloth, 24" square, collection of National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY

Summer is hot and humid  here in Wisconsin, steamy and buggy, a sauna of swampiness.  I sorely look forward to fall. 

I apologize for not posting more often about quilting and giving you some tips and encouragement.  However, my severe mold allergy has flared due to roofers and landscapers and today a deck demolition in our neighborhood, so I haven't even been near my work.  Just trying to get through each day has taken my all. 

Fighting mold when it makes you so ill is very difficult, if not impossible.  Mother Nature is winning this battle I fear.  Recommendations for a city/state that is dry and not moldy are welcomed.  I'm bad at high altitude though.

I will try and catch up on email and blog comments soon. Facebook is still a major mystery for me, so please be patient.  I only signed on there to view someone's quilt photos and now I have my own page, friends and all.  Who knew!

Recently I did escape for the day and met a friend at a national juried and judged quilt show.  I thought it would cheer me, but it did not, even though it was good to be out, and see friends. 

I loved some of the quilts, many of them ones with no awards and ribbons, some I had seen in other prestigious shows with awards, but not here. 

It seemed to me that many of these machine quilted entries and winners looked mechanical, lacked integration of design and quilting, had little presence or heart. 

I don't think "more" is always better, that crystals can always make the design better or even be the design, that using every motif under the sun is better than using designs that make sense to the quilt itself.  Editing in the overall design in many of the quilts was lacking. 

Plus there was so much derivative work rather than new and creative.  

Ann Fahl said it best in her blog,   in her post "Questions and Thoughts on a Recent Quilt Show."  These same thoughts have been in my mind for the past several years as well.    

Once home, I looked at my quilt on the living room wall, "Rabbit in Green."  I have only one of my quilts hanging, and this is my favorite right now.  I felt that deep thud inside as I looked at it, kept looking at all of it, never tired of looking at it. 

I didn't notice particular stitches or techniques, but the "whole" of it.  The visual beauty, not the technical bits and pieces.  Technique for me should be the invisible marionette strings that hold up the piece.  You look at the puppet, not the strings.  And if there is no puppet, only the strings?  Disappointment.

An admirer of Rabbit in Green from outside the quilt world offered to buy when it was in an exhibit last fall. After much thought I declined the sale, because I would rather have this quilt than a check for it.  When you feel that way you know you are on the right track, no matter what the trend in machine quilting might be.

I included my quilt A Visit to Provence, above, because it is one of my best works, and shows the direction my work will continue to take, firmly rooted in heritage and tradition, using it as my springboard.  I will add my own designs and machine skills to express that heritage as fully, as beautifully, as satisfyingly as I can.

Meanwhile, my computer is gathering dust due to no power cord and a depleted battery for the past two weeks.  I noted when it had no power that the cord was covered with cat teeth marks, so that may have contributed to its dying, but a new cord is on the way, and I have my teeny travel netbook for email and this blog today. 

However, it is August and the world is on vacation, so being out of the loop is ok.  I hope you are enjoying this time of year, quilting something that makes you happy and fulfilled, and loving summer's beauty.



fancystitching said...

Well-said, Diane. I do like both traditional and contemporary quilt motifs (not on the same quilt, mind you), but you must remain faithful to the theme and flow of the quilt. I love the way you have expressed this.


Jeanne said...

When I was a kid in Hodagland, they called these hot, humid, muggy days - the "Dog Days of Summer." Yuck ! Hope your allergies are soon forgotten, your computer is revived and you are back at your machine creating beauty for our quilty world ...

Anonymous said...

Commiserations re. the allergy issues, hope you are soon restored in health and spirits. Not sure what it is about our feline friends and power cables but one of ours was constantly chomping his way through them ... Do so agree with your comments about mechanical and soulless pieces in so many exhibitions, wonder how we tackle this?

YankeeQuilter said...

For one who is not feeling well that was a wonderful post! Love the show observations...I had a similar feeling at a recent show. Reminds me of my Mom's comment when teaching me to paint "you don't have to use every color and every brush on every painting...."

Diane Gaudynski said...

I wonder how we tackle the onslaught of "mechanical" quilts too, Barbara. I guess keep doing what we are doing and hope. Seeing these quilts might also discourage newcomers to quilting.

My computer cord just arrived, I am now plugged in, and what a treat to use my real laptop.

Oliver agrees with Jeanne - these are the dog days, as all he sees are dogs going by on leashes for walks, nary a cat in sight.

California Fiber artist and composer said...

Diane--_I hope that you are feeling better soon. The desert in Southern California is low, mould free and dry. The beach areas are cooler and still dry but I am not sure about mould (the south is much cooler than Asilomar.

Your comments on the quilts at the show were fascinating. I agree that many of the long armed quilts in particular seem to be quilted to stiffness and that the skills of the longarmer are put above the overall design. I think there needs to be more splitting up of domestic and long arm quilts.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks - I do know s. CAL would be fabulous. I am thinking anyplace where a cat wears a SW style bandana and chases lizards might be good :-), but where I can still afford to buy cat food.

Karen said...

Diane, thanks for your thoughts on a somewhat touchy subject I would think. I am not an experienced machine quilter, so I can only hope that voices like yours are heard. More is not always better, well said. A Visit to Provence is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Mechanical quilts is a wonderful description of many new quilts, both traditional in style and contempory. Too much of everything .... fabrics, colours, pieces, stitches .... all squeezed into one project.

My catchcry at recent shows has been 'Feathers are not fillers' ..... some quilted feathers are lovely, but they need something boring around them to make them the feature they should be.

Judy B

antique quilter said...

Sure hope your feeling better soon, I agree bring on Fall I am so ready for this hot summer to be over I dream of cool crisp days with lots of the beautiful fall colors in the trees.
Very well said, I look at quilts in shows and wonder why did they over quilt it , distracts from the quilt or maybe the long armer thought it should be all about the quilting?
That said I have seen some beautiful long arm quilting that enhanced the quilt but lately that doesn't seem to be the case.
Thanks for sharing A Visit to Provence, just beautiful

Ming said...

Diane, I love this post and I am so glad to have heard this from you.
I have been thinking about this: It seems as though there is too much “labour”, too much mechanical and repetitive work involved in good quilt making today making quilting a labour intensive craft not an art.
Changing this is more easily said than done. I too tend to do “too much” myself. I often focus so much on precision, accuracy, exact, maybe so that I lose the “flow”. I seek for the “Wow” factor, and sometimes ignore the quiet beauty and the whole…

I love your "A visit to Provence." It is so well executed; yet it is so elegant and natural. The tips of the feathers curl in in front of the plant…beautiful, beautiful! It seems that I can feel the breeze that dances the delicate plant.
I realise that I still have a long way to go.

I sincerely hope you get better soon!

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks for the well wishes - I am muddling along.

I too have seen some wonderful "wow" quilts at shows recently, that were, as Goldilocks would say, "just right." Combining artistry and design skills with excellent technique makes it all happen. We have to strive for that, take a step back and really look at our work.

I know in class many times quilters can't see the beauty of what they have done, they are too close. I hold it up, they see it really for the first time away from the machine and then can determine what to do, how to proceed, to make it all come together.

Work hard at technique, improve your quilting, and the whole work is elevated. But try to avoid losing sight of the combination of all the things that must be in a quilt so it is more than the sum of its parts.

Ming, you described exactly how I wanted "Provence" to be! It makes me feel very good to know you could see that in my quilt and that it was successful. And it took many years of quilting so the seemingly effortless look could be achieved. Thanks :-)!

Plus I do think the planets were all lined up correctly when I made that quilt......

Ivory Spring said...

Great post - very thought provoking! :)

Your Provence is probably my all time favorite of your work!

Sue said...

Love your work. Sorry to hear about your allergy problems. Do allergy shots help any? I use Flutacasone nasal spray when its bad here in New Mexico. Even in the desert, we have allergy problems and mold and mildew are also bad for me. Hope you get to feeling better soon!
PS: How is Oliver doing? Animals add so much joy to our lives.

Linda said...

I hope you are feeling better soon----I took your new kitty to heart and I now have a little cocker puppy after a year with no animal in the home---it feels like my soul is coming alive again having a new little friend----how is your baby doing????

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks Ivory Spring, I think Provence is my favorite too.

Sue, I am doing ok, just so much mold gets stirred up all the time after it was brought into the neighborhood, so it is difficult. I know mold is everywhere, it's just more prevalent and intense in climates like ours.

Linda, Oliver has been a blessing beyond what I could have imagined. He will be one year old this Sunday, all grown up, but still acts like a kitten. I am so glad you decided to get that puppy, they are adorable, and he will give you so much happiness.

Deb's Stitch in Time said...

Diane: I live in Buffalo, NY and have had a terrible time this summer. i got so sick and wound up with the worst case of bronchitis that I've had in years. I know that the humidity so much worse, so I really sympathize with you. Hope you are feeling better soon.

I really liked this post. Your comments were excellent and should give us all much to think about. Debby

Anonymous said...

Diane: I visited St. George Utah last April and thought it had perfect climate, and realestate very affordable. Don't think I could handle the 100+ summer temps, but wonder about that each time the humidity is as high as the temperature in New England...

Karen said...

Diane - Your discussion on quilt shows is very timely. I've been having the same discussion with several people lately.

As a side note, I am a longarmer and I hope that quilters don't hold the same beliefs that all longarmers are equal in their treatment and "overquilting" of quilts.

It's been said that the "quilting makes the quilt". It usually takes me longer to do a customer quilt than most because I try to make the quilting accent or enhance the top and not take away from it. There's a perfect balance that can be achieved where one can see the piecing, colors, balance and then the quilting and it all says "wow".

I've followed you for years and have sat with a magnifying glass to see just what you did in certain areas of quilts. Why did you pick that design? How does it fit in with the overall? What was the thought process?

I strive to make each customer quilt their own - not my own. And by the way, I'm not computerized. Designs have to come out of my head and through my hands.

Diane - I wish you good health in the days to come. And I look forward to seeing more of your gorgeous work. You are truly an inspiration.

Diane Gaudynski said...

I will look into Utah! I've never been there, except to the Salt Lake City airport, which was beautiful.

Karen, you and others make some excellent points. I think this problem crosses into many areas of quilting, types of quilting.

I have never been a production quilter. When I first started piecing I pieced quilts (and quilted each one too) like a demon, because there were so many I wanted to make. This was all great experience, but now I have stacks of old quilts filling my spare room.

When I started doing more involved machine quilting, I could slow down and spend more time on the entire process: design, construction, quilting.

Also it is a matter of our personal taste. What others love and admire, some do not, and it has always been that way at quilt shows - just listen to people talking!

But in the end it is good to discuss this, and give more thought to our quilts, no matter what the prevailing wind in quilting might be.

Barb said...

Hi Diane -
I don't have any new revelations to add to the previous comments, but i will say it was refreshing to hear your thoughts on recent quilt shows. I attend about 5 large shows a year and have become more and more disappointed.
I have displayed work at national shows, but questions doing so in the future. It takes time, energy and funds to send quilts away and when they are not appreciated, it's discouraging.

Hope you feel better soon, for myself, I welcome fall and the first frost with open arms.

Diane Gaudynski said...

Barb, It's good to know I am not alone in these thoughts. I used to be so energized by quilt shows, the high quality, the designs, the incredible quilts, but lately not so much.

I also have noticed far fewer attendees at shows than in the past. I know the economy is an issue too, and perhaps if we are not enjoying what we see, many won't attend as often anymore.

I always see some great work at shows, there just isn't as much as there used to be despite everyone proclaiming how much better the quilts are now. said...

Hi Diane, what a great thought provoking post. I attend a class once that Harriet Hargrave taught that was just about what to quilt and we brought our quilt tops that stumped us or WIPs that were stalled. It was wonderful help to me as there seem to be so many technique classes and almost no design classes.

MarshaB said...

Hi Diane,
Thanks for all your great thoughts and information. I live in North Idaho and we have long winters and wet springs, so probably not a great place to help your allergies. But you might check into Arizona or Nevada. We are snowbirding there and both are very dry and real estate is very affordable there. Hope you feel better soon!

Anonymous said...

HI Diane, I have a severe mold allergy too. I live in the dry central valley of California and don't have a lot of problems here. We live close to the mountains, but still in the valley. There are a lot of other allergies that are caused by the bad air, but mold only seems to be at certain times of the year, and, at least for me, not that bad. We only get about 10 inches of rain a year, on a good year. I can always tell when a building has mold so have to get out immediately. I love your quilting style, you do such beautiful work.

Sunshine said...

I can't get enough looking at your whole cloth quilts. They look so vivid with the intricate quilting you do. 2010 might be the year I will finally give whole-cloth a try!

One question: on a quilt like the yellow one in the photo - do you start quilting in the middle or do you quilt the straight-edge frame around the center motif first? Do you mark any of the lines (you said in a more recent post that you do most free-hand) on such a quilt? Thanks!

Diane Gaudynski said...

Christine, I do mark quite a few lines on a quilt like this, a "formal" or "classic" quilt where the lines have to be correct. I did quilt the main lines first, the large central circle, the frame, etc. Then work to fill in, ending with the background work.

The marked lines keep it all looking formal and correct, but I do use "guides" to mark so that the feathers end up in the right places, the right size, etc.

I put a dot in the outer border where the center of each of those little feather designs would begin, but those are not marked. I used a "ceiling" line for the feathered wreath but did not trace and mark the feathers.

On this quilt I did draw the central feather design on paper and trace it, but now I usually just do that with the center lines (spines) of the feathers and perhaps give myself guide marks to where the tops of the feathers should go.

I also marked the undulating plume center line in the outer border, but again, not the individual feathers. I only used a guide line and quilted the feathers from the center to the guide with no marking. I would do this the same way in a larger quilt too.

There is no right or wrong to marking or not marking - use whatever gives you the best result. I combine the two techniques all the time, and neither is easier or more difficult for me to quilt, but marking is more time consuming.


Sunshine said...

Thanks Diane!