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Thread: Craft or art and how to get from the one to the other?

  1. #26
    Super Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    This is fascinating. I guess the move to art comes from finding something that inspires that need to create, to express something uniquely - or from curiosity or playfulness. I felt for years that my creativity was stifled by a job that didn't suit me - I had to spend so much time doing something I just wasn't comfortable with that I never felt completely "me". I retired 6 months ago, and as I've recovered, my urge to write is coming back. I'm also noticing a lack of enthusiasm for just finding the next quilt pattern to follow - there's a vague desire to do something different without quite knowing what or how! So thankyou for the suggestions that have been made as to how I might get started. If anyone knows of any other resources (online or UK-based) that might help me start to explore whether there's any creative spark waiting to be coaxed to life, I'd love to hear.

  2. #27
    Super Member candi's Avatar
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    Interesting thread.
    Gostrider, a most interstiting comparison.

    I don't have much to add, but just wanted to say that in a way I believe that tye art of quilting may come with experience. I have only been sewing for three years, never even owned a sewing machine before that, and I find that many of my ideas remain just that just because I don't have the skill to transform them into fabric and stitches. So right now, I am trying to improve my skills by learning many techniques and hoping that one day, I can have an aha movement when my hands can follow my mind in translating those ideas into work.

  3. #28
    Super Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by candi

    I don't have much to add, but just wanted to say that in a way I believe that tye art of quilting may come with experience. I have only been sewing for three years, never even owned a sewing machine before that, and I find that many of my ideas remain just that just because I don't have the skill to transform them into fabric and stitches. So right now, I am trying to improve my skills by learning many techniques and hoping that one day, I can have an aha movement when my hands can follow my mind in translating those ideas into work.
    That's another issue I've been thinking about, Candi. I'm not that experienced a quilter and there are a lot of techniques I've never tried. Looking at all the art quilts, the level of skill demonstrated in, say, applique or free motion quilting, also really impressed me. To some extent, unless you're the sort of person who has an innate ability to see how to do something, surely you need a good grounding in the craft in order to create the art? For that reason, I'm not beating myself up for being a craft person, following patterns until now - it's all giving me a good basis to move on to more original work if and when the time is right.

  4. #29
    Senior Member DonnaFreak's Avatar
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    I think even if we are following a pattern, what we do is art as much as craft. When you follow a pattern, don't you make little tweaks and changes here and there? I recently did a quilt for my daughter's teacher, and even though I followed a pattern for a paper-pieced apple block, I chose the colors of the apples (I used a different fabric for each one), I decided what to use as the blocks between the apples, and I chose the fabrics to use as the borders. I just finished the top of a "Gay Pride" quilt for my nephew, and even though I had a rainbow pattern, I changed the colors and the order of colors in the arch. I keep trying something new with every quilt I make, and I'm watching with much interest the "Quilting Arts" shows that come on every weekend. I don't know that I'll ever go THAT far with my quilts, but I'm just sayin'.....it's all art as long as we can make the choice as to what we're doing and how we want it to look! :c)

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by annesthreads
    I've just spent two days at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham (UK), and as ever was totally amazed and awed at the standard of work displayed there. Some beautifully made traditional quilts, and many, many highly original, expressive and creative pieces. That's started me musing on creativity and originality. I suspect that my work is craft rather than art - I follow patterns and my original input comes from choices of colour, quilting stitches and threads - and is limited by my skill level. Many of the works on display in Birmingham were original pieces of art.
    Now, I'm not in any way putting down the craft approach - I get endless enjoyment and fulfillment from what I do, and was in awe of the standard of some of the traditional work on display. But how to move into the more original work? I wonder if I just lack some artistic, creative spark that gives the artists who produce these stunning pieces their imagination and vision.
    Would love to hear people's thoughts on this.
    Just jump right on in to the art water! Your ideas are as good as anyone else's. Want to make a log cabin out of grays and whites and then scatter red paint drops on it?
    Mess up on an Ohio Star and rename it wonky-doodle?
    Dip one end of ecru muslin into blue dye and the other end into green and and in the middle applique some flowers you fussy cut from something in your stash, make some creative sashays around it all with your sewing machine--or by hand--call it "Lawn and Sky" or ""My Backyard" or "Smog on a Sunny Day" and you will have a work of art.
    froggyintexas

  6. #31
    Super Member BuzzinBumble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogHouseMom
    The "craft" to me is the execution of the item, the art is the originality.

    I feel just like you do annesthreads after seeing all the beauties at a really inspiring quilt show. All that inspiration can either trigger a stream of new ideas for me, or it can be quite daunting and freeze my creativity in its tracks for little while.

    But really, unless quilting completely from a kit, aren't most quilts a combination of both art and craft? And clearly some folks take your breath away with their artistic gifts and/or crafting skills, but aren't we all a mix of both: crafter and artist?

  7. #32
    Super Member Wunder-Mar's Avatar
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    I am more concerned about keeping my SCRAP quilts from moving into CRAP quilts.

  8. #33
    Super Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuzzinBumble
    Quote Originally Posted by DogHouseMom
    The "craft" to me is the execution of the item, the art is the originality.


    But really, unless quilting completely from a kit, aren't most quilts a combination of both art and craft? And clearly some folks take your breath away with their artistic gifts and/or crafting skills, but aren't we all a mix of both: crafter and artist?
    I think I agree. This afternoon I was watching myself as I planned a quilt: I started by looking at the fabrics I'd bought , and an idea gradually came as to what sort of block I'd like to make with these colours. Then I browsed Quilters Cache and found a block that reflected my thoughts, and spent some time playing with paper and coloured pencils, working out how the blocks would look when joined together, and how to use my colours to best effect. Next is the craft bit - paper-piecing the blocks. But I was using creativity this afternoon - noticing my response to the colours and the sort of shapes I was thinking
    about as I looked at them, then trying out different placements of the colours to produce a pleasing effect.
    I think the list that was posted of the differences between art and craft was a bit harsh on craft. You're right - we need both. The balance between them will vary from person to person, and I'm beginning to feel challenged to find ways of bringing something more original to what I do, but to get to that point, I've had to become competent in the techniques I need to use.

  9. #34
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    Love your avatar. Where did you get the pattern?

  10. #35
    Super Member StitchinJoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan
    The next time you see a challange or a contest (usually sponsored by fabric line) sign yourself up. They usually have either a fabric line or idea to work from and you have to create to show it off. This will stretch your creativity and you might surprise yourself.
    I found this to be true for me. Several years ago I saw a challenge sponsored by Quilters Newsletter for some gorgeous reproduction toile fabric collection, Season of Toiles, made by P&B Textiles.
    http://www.antiquequiltdating.com/A_...of_Toiles.html

    I dreamed about one of the fabrics, a medallion border print covered with circles. I even dreamed designs for the fabric.

    I decided to try to make my dream a reality. I bought yards of the medallion fabric and cut it up into hundreds of little squares and sewed them back together again, just like I saw them in my dream. They made sort of a Love Ring design.

    I liked the result. t was very much like I had envisioned. So I took photos and entered the contest.

    Much to my surprise, my quilt won the challenge! It was exhibited at the Allentown Museum. And the prize was $1,000. I bought our daughter's wedding gown with it!

    My husband took my photo in front of my quilt at the museum. If I look a bit shell shocked, well, I sure was!

    So I will surely second the motion-- challenge yourself. Surprise yourself. Stretch. Grow. Learn. See what develops. I bet you surprise yourself too!

    Reconstruction at the Allentown Museum
    Name:  Attachment-242252.jpe
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  11. #36
    Super Member gramajo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annesthreads
    Thanks for all the responses. Plenty to think about here. I feel at the moment as though there may be some original creativity in there somewhere, but I can't access it - probably the lingering effects of childhood messages that I was no good at anything like that. I've overcome a lot of that (was told my sewing was rubbish, believed it for 45 years, then discovered I could make quilts!), but it still has its effects. I think I need to go and play!
    Have fun playing :thumbup: We all need playtime :D

  12. #37
    Junior Member Lobster's Avatar
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    I'll second entering a challenge. I did that for the Isis quilt (see the avatar) and it was a fantastic experience creatively. I learned a huge amount.

  13. #38
    Super Member BrendaY's Avatar
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    Well..... My "high" comes from viewing your creative and wonderful quilts.. Some of your art moves me almost to tears, and I'm grateful for the artists conception that so many of you produce..

    If I have any artistic talent, it is that I can appreciate your works of art, and I consider that a blessing...

  14. #39
    Super Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew
    Love your avatar. Where did you get the pattern?
    Thankyou! It's Hidden Wells, and I found it at

    http://www.reocities.com/quiltfrenzy...aterworld.html

    though there are plenty of other instructions on the Web. It's quite easy to make as long as you're accurate.

  15. #40
    Super Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StitchinJoy
    Much to my surprise, my quilt won the challenge! It was exhibited at the Allentown Museum. And the prize was $1,000. I bought our daughter's wedding gown with it!
    Congratulations! That's a beautiful quilt.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by nance-ell
    I consider myself a crafter also. I think art can be learned to a point, but after that innate talent takes the lead. Anyone can expand their abilities, but I do think everyone has a unique set of skills and abilities and no two persons are the same. But, when we love what we do, it shows :-)
    this is very well said. Being crafty is a whole lot different from being Artsy...
    nearly any/everyone can be taught a craft..but very few have the vision to become the artist!

  17. #42
    Super Member CAS49OR's Avatar
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    I paint oils, sometimes from a picture. I've wondered, if I paint a rendition of that picture, is it art? and, Why do I need to paint it, I have the photo.

    When I paint, I do not "copy" it, I put my own spin on it. Same thing when I quilt. I've switched up the pattern every time. So maybe that's artistic.

  18. #43
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    There are gifts of many kinds and classifications of more
    sometimes something is classified as a craft or art simply by the maker or viewer. There are works of art held in high praise that simply aren't worth a plug nickle and vise versa. One of the ways you can move more into an artsy frame of mind is to mix things up and step out of your safety zone. I do art, craft, sewing and so on. Some seem to be more distinct in their work but don't let it stop you. While you're admiring their work they are study yours disecting it and planning how they will use your techniques- even if they do give snide remarks or looks.

  19. #44
    Senior Member DonnaFreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CAS49OR
    I paint oils, sometimes from a picture. I've wondered, if I paint a rendition of that picture, is it art? and, Why do I need to paint it, I have the photo.

    When I paint, I do not "copy" it, I put my own spin on it. Same thing when I quilt. I've switched up the pattern every time. So maybe that's artistic.
    Zactly! :thumbup:

  20. #45
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    I see myself as a mix of a crafter and an artist. I do both. Therefore I don't decide between these two and call myself a quilter - to be exact, handquilter.
    My work is very traditional and I love to use the traditional patterns in a very traditional way - anyway every quilt is different. I enjoy the process of handquilting more than the final product/quilt. In my quilts I see and create things like beauty, balance, contrast and uniformity, order and clearness - characters I sometimes miss in my own personality.
    Some quilts I like, some not. Some I consider as art, some not. It's just my personal point of view.
    I don't aim for doing art. I just do quilts.

  21. #46
    Super Member RobertaMarie's Avatar
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    Art or craft? I used to paint, and some people liked my paintings. I kept what I liked, gave some away, but it was not as fulfilling as making a simple rag quilt that someone just loves to cuddle with or a lap quilt to keep someone warm, or a bed quilt to give pleasure and beauty to a bedroom.... Art and crafts are rather like cooking. We can use the same recipe, but it will still taste (and look) different to different people. I seldom use a recipe after six decades of cooking. But once in awhile, something new is tried. Same with quilting, if you love doing it, and it gives pleasure, then go for it. If you want to be a fabric artisan, the by all means go for it. We are all unique, thanks to our Maker. We are all artists in a sense, so just enjoy whatever YOU are, and don't worry about measuring up to other standards. I send you thoughts of love and blessings to be the best YOU that you know how. No one else can do that but you. RMW

  22. #47
    Super Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Borntohandquilt
    I see myself as a mix of a crafter and an artist. I do both. Therefore I don't decide between these two and call myself a quilter - to be exact, handquilter.
    My work is very traditional and I love to use the traditional patterns in a very traditional way - anyway every quilt is different. I enjoy the process of handquilting more than the final product/quilt. In my quilts I see and create things like beauty, balance, contrast and uniformity, order and clearness - characters I sometimes miss in my own personality.
    Some quilts I like, some not. Some I consider as art, some not. It's just my personal point of view.
    I don't aim for doing art. I just do quilts.
    Great comment - thankyou. (And I'm in awe of your avatar: I gave up VERY quickly with hand quilting!)

  23. #48
    Super Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertaMarie
    Same with quilting, if you love doing it, and it gives pleasure, then go for it. If you want to be a fabric artisan, the by all means go for it. We are all unique, thanks to our Maker. We are all artists in a sense, so just enjoy whatever YOU are, and don't worry about measuring up to other standards. I send you thoughts of love and blessings to be the best YOU that you know how. No one else can do that but you. RMW
    That's the crux of it, isn't it? That each of us should be the best "me" possible and express that in whatever way is appropriate for us. That's all that's asked of us. And that we respect everyone else's expression of who THEY are, without thinking one has more merit than another. I think that's why I was uncomfortable with the list of the differences between art and craft, because it devalued the latter. And anyway, I think some of the very wise and perceptive comments posted here have made it quite clear that the two can't be so easily separated anyway.

  24. #49
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    I am also just back from Birmingham which I thoroughly enjoyed as usual.
    I tend to think of my quilts as craft rather than art and I am quite happy to follow patterns.
    Sorry I can't help with your answer.

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by litacats
    when you think of it we paint with fabric not so much on fabric.
    tho I am going to try my hand a painting on fabric. I have a few ideas in my head I just nead some time to spare to do something about it.
    Traditionally, and for years what we are doing have been called "Needle Arts"!!

    Producing a different something or a quilt from pieces of cut up fabric can be called an art, because that is the same thing that artists do to reveal or explain their worlds, using a great variety of different materials.

    Ladies, and gentlemen who like to experiment with pieces of fabric and thread, do not sell your selves short!
    Today there is a diffuse and fine line between the end result that craftsmen and artists produce by manipulating
    their media.
    What you call yourself, artist or not, or craftsman or not. is not as important as the wonderful things you produce!
    jpthequilter

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