Last night I had the opportunity to watch a few of my DVR'd Quilting Programs. The ones I had recorded were a couple of Quilting Arts and Fons & Porter programs.
Talk about two entirely different experiences! The only thing the two programs had in common is that they were both using fabric. They showcased two entirely different and polar opposite sides of the quilting world.
First of all Quilting Arts had absolutely no sewing in it at all. This really surprised me but I suppose that it shouldn't have. I have had a kind of love/hate relationship with Quilting Arts Magazine for years. When it first came out I was a huge fan, and was even in their 2003 Calendar. Since then I've seen a steady and accelerating move away from "quilting" into textile art, which as far as I'm concerned are entirely different things. When you can have an entire "Quilting" program with no sewing, then basically you aren't "quilting" anymore.
Definitions of "Quilt"
quilt - stitch or sew together; "quilt the skirt"
quilt - create by stitching together
quilt - bedding made of two layers of cloth filled with stuffing and stitched together
Frankly, a lot of the stuff in "Quilting Arts" and on their TV show have no sewing in them at all. It seems to be all about surface decoration and I'm not talking about beading or stitching. The program I saw featured an artist making flour paste resist. Sorry, but I just don't get it! The finished piece they were ooohing and ahhing over was really hideous. My son could have made something better when he was three.
I just wish that Quilting Arts would take away the "Quilting" part of their name and just call themselves "Textile Arts" because that's really what they have become. I'm not adverse to what these folks are doing if that's what they want to do, but don't call it "quilting" if there aren't any stitches in it! As someone whose quilts were early on derided as too "artsy" I can relate to outsider status. However, I feel like these rubber glove wearing art school grads are stealing our thunder and turning our art form into something it isn't.
These "artists" make me want to scream! I want to reach through the TV and ask them point blank if they've ever matched points or know how to turn bias binding and miter corners. Or, if they even know how to do a proper quilting stitch, do needle turn applique, or even cut a piece of fabric on grain. Frankly, in about 80% of the cases I suspect not. But they are so smug and self satisfied. I just want to tell them to call a spade a spade and stop calling their art "quilts" when they are not!
Those of us who have been out here for years stretching the boundaries of traditional quilting are proud of our technique and feel mocked when someone calls a piece of painted fabric a "quilt." It is not and it never will be. If you want to call your "art" a quilt, then quilt it! Take some classes and learn about sewing techniques, learn to do all of those things that have made quilts the precious artform that we've inherited from all the women who've come before us. Appreciate technique and recognize it's value.
OK, now I've gotten that out of my system.....
Fons & Porter. Another world! Their magazine and TV show are geared towards a more traditional quilter. I find them more soothing and informative as far as the craft of quilting. Although their projects are much more traditional than I am, I can watch their program without my head exploding which is positive. If I knew someone who wanted to get into quilting I would want them to watch this program because they do give good instruction on technique and you can learn something.
As far as the quilts go, I think they're kind of boring. But then I got off the traditional style of quilting years ago. However, I think I appreciate them a lot more than the art quilts because I know how much work and how many years of practice it takes to make a quality traditional quilt. It's not an easy process and I respect those who do it. Sometimes I wish I could but it's just not who I am.
So, I guess if there were a "Smackdown" I'd have to give the Fons & Porter duo the crown. I believe that they are advancing the art and craft of quilting and passing along techniques and skills that quilters need. My main problem with "Quilting Arts" is that I don't think that's what they're about anymore so it's really deceptive of them to present themselves that way.
I know that the quilting world is a big tent and I'd like it to be as inclusive as it can be. However, I do draw the line on calling unquilted art "quilts." Let's have more truth in advertising!