My Thoughts About My Fabric Art for 2017

I have made some adjustments in my thinking about my fabric art direction over the last few months that will lead to my putting less focus on competition art quilting and more on the adventure of making art as fabulous as I can.  You may not see much difference, because I probably will continue to enter some of my work into shows, but the emphasis in my studio and in my mind is more on the art work and less on the show work.

I am very excited about this because I have so many things I want to try to make and I want to share with you, gentle readers, what I learn along the way.

This new direction came about because two quilts of mine that I know are quite show worthy and people would emjoy seeing them, were both rejected from Road to California 2017.  That puzzled me (I have several theories about this, but I won’t share them here).  They are wonderful quilts and deserved to be in the show. Here they are:

Drawing Nigh, completed 4/17/2016, 39.5 x 44.5 inches. Original design by BJ


Spiral Galaxy No. 3 (Best Interpretation of Theme in PNQE earlier this year)

Yes, I know all the things that are said about this by friends trying to comfort me (I am not upset, by the way.  It is a good thing that helped me think I needed to move in new directions)…”make what you love”, “even if they are rejected it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your quilt”, “they probably had too many in that category”, and so on.   I appreciate it.  But think about this: It costs money to enter a show, and my desire when I enter is chiefly to share my quilts with people.

If I win something it is icing on the cake, so not to get into a show is really harder for me to take than not placing.  I used to clearly understand it if my quilt was rejected, since I was such a junior quilt maker and I could see the problems in the quilts myself.  But my recent quilts are flat, square, quilted well, full of impact, individual, good designs, and worthy of sharing.

So I have decided to loosen my focus on shows a bit and look for new ways to share my quilts, sell my quilts, and share what I have learned (books, classes within driving distance, this blog, and so forth).  I am having an exhibit of my quilts next spring at G Street Fabrics in Rockville. I still will try to get some quilts in if I think they fit well in a particular show, because that is the best way to share them with more people.  But that will not be my focus for making a new quilt.  I have so many quilts I want to make…fabric and thread experiments I want to try…digital to fabric experiments…and embellishment and applique adventures I want to go on.  Without having to worry about the judges, I will have more freedom (though they will all still be made to show quality). It is so exciting.

I am currently working on my wonderful oldest son Ken’s design he gave me for my birthday in March.  This quilt has taken me longer in actual hours than any other quilt so far.  I have at last completed the central pictorial theme this week, made all the special border pieces and the text box.  I only have to cover a tiny cord for inclusion in the quilt and I will be putting together all the pieces of the top very soon.  I already have figured out how I am going to quilt it once I get it to that stage, and with my wonderful new Bernina Q20 (Fritz), I expect that to go well and faster than past quilts.  I am hoping to get that into Houston next fall, since it’s always been intended as a show quilt, and if I do, I will hope to attend the show myself.

In addition to the creation of fabric art, I am planning on blogging several series of how-tos like my recent five-parter here, including one with a few months of a step-of-the-month project.  I will be teaching some classes at G Street Fabrics in Rockville next year, and will be looking for other nearby possibilities for workshops (I don’t like to fly).  I will finally finish writing the three books I already have been working on (Applique for fabric artists, Embellishment and surface design, and Quilting for art quilts) to be published by Fennec Fox Press (my youngest son’s small publishing company).

Sew happy everyone! Join me in this exciting new adventure in 2017!




6 thoughts on “My Thoughts About My Fabric Art for 2017

  1. Nancy says:

    I’m glad you are making progress on your son’s quilt. I can’t wait to see the finished piece! I hope to see it in person in Houston!!

  2. Terry says:

    I too was once excited about entering into shows. I was surprised to be “rejected” and I agree with you about the cost to enter. I use to joke that I just paid to be rejected! It is too bad we don’t know why the show powers rejected the entry.

    When I did get into a show and would read the judges comments, the comments didn’t help me. I often already knew the short comings and too often the comments were subjective. There was even the time when word got back to me that my entry didn’t place because I had won a ribbon in that category the previous year! I decided I wasn’t going to be making a quilt based on a judge; but rather I would make a quilt based on what I wanted to do.

    I look forward to seeing your work in the new year. . .especially your son’s quilt!

    • Terry, For quite a while now, my quilts are usually accepted into shows. It just seemed so odd that these two quilts, one which has already won a ribbon and one which has been accepted and shown in two AQS shows, should be rejected. I think it may have something to do with the weird year for the quilting business, but in any event, it made me rethink about entering shows in a new way. I’m not giving up entering, but will greatly limit it in the future. The judges’ comments for several years now have ceased to help me, because they either don’t seem to really apply to my quilt or they contradict each other when there is more than one quilt, or they are simply nice praise to hear (but I still may not get a ribbon). I only now ever enter just to share my quilts with people. I think there is a lot of tumult in the show quilting world this year. 2016 has been like that. I hope 2017 sees new energy and light in the quilting world. 😀 Cheers

  3. Janice says:

    Drawing Nigh is beautiful in the photo, so it must be positively stunning to see it in person.
    I have never entered a large quilt show, but I can understand how you must feel when your work is not accepted. I’m sure your positive attitude and new found sense of freedom will lead you to create some amazing new pieces.

    • Thank you Janice! I have learned a lot from entering into large quilt shows and my quilting has improved enormously. I think I now need to work more freely in the future away from concern about how judges see my work.

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