Friday, July 11, 2008

inspiration thoughts

I recently was chatting with a new quilting friend and something she said has really stuck with me. She waited until she retired to learn quilting. She seems close to my age, so I think she was very smart and was able to retire early-but imagine waiting years to learn to quilt. She does wonderful quilting and is a delightful person.
We know we are all different and diverse people/quilters. Some stick to patterns and make a quilt "just like" the photo example. Others wander off on new paths creating their inner vision of a quilt. There is a wide world of types of quilting to explore. I can remember being too timid to cut into my fabric and overwhelmed by having to choose a pattern. An online friend suggested five inch squares and just stitch them up into rows. That was exactly what I did. I learned that fqs are not always enough fabric to make the pattern you want in your quilt. I learned to machine quilt straight lines on that quilt and my first charity quilt was done. That was back in January 2000.
I had done some quilting previously in my life, but, that date marks the real entry into full tilt quilting for me. I bought books, patterns, rulers, fabric, more fabric, lots of fabric and discovered quilt shops and fellow quilters online and then in person.

So, I made a few quilts before taking my first quilting classes. Almost all my ufos are from taking classes back in the early years, with a few more during the last few years of projects I wanted to try pattern ideas out on and then got sidetracked.

Inspiration? In the beginning, from books and quilts I saw in person. When the world expanded to include blogging and photos online-wow! inspiration overload is easy to have happen.

I noticed however, that lots of folks would see a quilt and be thrilled to make one close to it or just like it or their own version of it. And I did the same-with grateful thanks to those folks for sharing their pattern sources.

The years have gone by and now I find myself inspired more by my own ideas and wanting to capture them in fabric. I embraced Gwen Marston's whole playful - see-what-happens style of quilting. I have expanded into more abstract type playing and found validation in playing with straight lines - like those I drew as a doodling young student in class, being acceptable as a quilting design. I like quilting with little regard for rules or the "quilt police". And, I still enjoy doing a traditional patten quilt at times too.
The main change I have been mulling is: how I enjoy seeing what other quilters do, but, does that influence my own originality? Think about all the quilts you have seen and/or read about.
We know many folks come up with the same idea in the same time -a pattern independent of each other but so similar-who can say which person actually came up with it "first"? And, folks can share great ideas, but, someone else entirely can put that idea into a book and claim credit.
So, do you limit your exposure to others quilty ideas to stay un-influenced? It can be rather like writing music, with so much already out there, coming up with something "new" can be daunting.

I find it useful to take a break from the outside world and just focus on my own thing at times.
I think it is great fun to take someone's idea and allow it to be the springboard for your own work. I also think it is relaxing to follow someone's pattern and not have to think at all to make a beautiful quilt too. Today, you can chose to express your inspiration in your own way.

Tomorrow I am choosing to be inspired by all the wonderful quilts waiting at the Sisters Quilt Show. My camera is charged and I will come home to enjoy photo memories of the quilts I liked best.



At 9:39 AM, Blogger Karen (Misiz C) said...

Cher... you've written a thoughtful post. Isn't it fun to see how our quilting styles and preferences evolve and change? When I see newer quilters hung up on something I don't worry about anymore, I try to keep my mouth shut and remind myself they are on their own journey. I am having difficulty finding motivation to work on older UFOs though. I'll have to put on a thinking cap and figure a way to 'tweek' them. :c)

Hope you have fun in Sisters.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Sweet P said...

I agree with Karen . . . what a great post. When I started quilting in September 2004 I followed patterns to a "T" to learn the techniques. It didn't take me long to start branching out and taking a pattern and tweaking it along the way to make it my own. I love seeing what other people make and am often inspired by their creations. I love taking a pile of fabrics and creating my own design with them. To me, that's the best way for me to work. I hope you have a great time at Sisters!

At 3:34 PM, Blogger jacquie said...

What a great post! For me it started as a bit of both, but as I gained confidence in my skills I've started doing my own thing more and more. It's exhilarating to make something with a bit more me in it. I'm always looking for my own voice.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Maureen and P.D. the Pet Dog said...

Aren't we so very lucky to live in this day and age where we can grow and learn! Have a great time in Sisters! Looking forward to hearing about it.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Christina said...

Good questions! I only limit exposing myself to other people's work when I am only looking and not creating myself. Though sometimes, when I'm stuck or uninspired, seeing a great mass of quilts like at a quilt show will really serve to get me moving again.

I think it's only natural that we come up with similar ideas at a similar time. Visual art evolves just like language and music. At certain times societies will favor certain colors, tones, shades, prints, lines and patterns. We are all influenced by our own culture and influencing it back. When two artists unknowingly make similar works I think of the magic of art, that we are synthesizing so much information into a particular medium.

I hope you will post pictures of any particularly inspiring pieces at Sisters - I am ill and did not go!

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Linda C said...

Food for thought! Room for all of us around that big quilting table as we all travel in our own quilting journeys. I think I will always proudly be a traditional quilter but that doesnt mean you can't veer off a bit, right?

Hope you had a grand time this weekend at Sister's.

At 6:12 AM, Blogger MissaB26 said...

Before I started seriously quilting, I made teddy bears. I remember having a similar conversation at that point. Let's face it, bears have a head, body, 2 arms, 2 legs and there aren't that many reasonable variations. You can put 20 quilters in a room with the same fabric and pattern and have 20 different quilts, but certain fabrics and textures are going to lead some people to make similar creative decisions. Is looking at someone else's work going to influence your decisions, or is it going to just help you recognize what you like when you might not have known before? It seems to be a chicken and egg question to me, but an interesting topic for self-reflection.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger Mary Johnson said...

I started quilting in 2000 also - August for me. I hand pieced my first top because I didn't own (and had never used) a sewing machine before. I convinced my Mom to start quilting at the same time and she was 69. You wouldn't believe how many quilts she's already made. Since I'm 30 years younger than her, I figure I'll have LOTS of years to quilt.

I'm completely self taught from books except I have taken a couple Longarm quilting classes. I like traditional blocks but like creating my own quilts for the most part. I love the inspiration I find in books and on the internet.


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