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Thread: What is "Modern" Quilting? - need help with a definition!

  1. #1
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    What is "Modern" Quilting? - need help with a definition!

    I am on the committee for a quilt show next year, and we have added a new Modern Quilting category to the competition. Now for the hard part: coming up with a description/definition for quilt entry in the show that doesn't cross over into the other categories. What makes a quilt "modern"? Here are some initial thoughts:
    * A twist on tradition
    * Use of negative space
    * Liberated piecing, design and layout
    * Minimalism
    * Geometric designs
    * Solids a common element

    See what I mean? These items could refer to any number of traditional quilts too. What do you think?

  2. #2
    Super Member snipforfun's Avatar
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    I would eliminate your first 2 items. Perhaps add embellishments i.e. crystals. I think the quilters would know what modern (art quilts) quilts are.

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    From what I have seen of modern quilts, they are not block based?

  4. #4
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Definitions are important!
    Good for you for realizing that and wanting to get clarity before calling for entries.

    I get frustrated as often the definitions are not clear ... and interesting enough, what it might mean at one Fair/Show may be different at another ... and different again to the Judges!

    I've seen classes mention "traditional" ... and it leaves me wondering, so if I use a traditional pattern, yet use Kaffe Fassett fabric, is it included? Or what about a OBW? ... certainly not an oldy goldy, yet the piecing technique is certainly all about historical quilting! And so on ....

    Then yesterday, I called about a class I'm thinking of entering and wanted clarification. No real answer came forth ... and it was ended with, why don't you go ahead and enter? after all you have nothing to lose! Well, um ... I do like to know I am in the "right" class and do not want to be disqualified!!!



    What about seeking your guild membership's input? At a meeting, pass out a questionnaire and have them write down their definitions and ideas. To encourage participation, offer a lucky draw of those who submit info ... though give them a separate ballot, so that they can remain anonymous with the feedback, should they choose. Then later on, sit down with a cuppa (or six!) and try to figure out the puzzle! Perhaps the class will not be called "modern" quilting ... but something else?


    I don't have your answer ... though some other things that might "fit"

    * inclusion of alternative fabrics and materials
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  5. #5
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snipforfun View Post
    I would eliminate your first 2 items. Perhaps add embellishments i.e. crystals. I think the quilters would know what modern (art quilts) quilts are.
    Re my post above ... all too often, everyone who "knows" has a difference idea as to what this might mean!
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  6. #6
    Super Member May in Jersey's Avatar
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    Take a look at themodernquiltguild.com. Here is their definition of modern quilts:

    Modern quilting, like all art, changes, grows and adapts from quilter to quilter as they find their own voice. Modern quilts reflect each quilter’s personality and personal style, and as the movement has grown, a modern quilt aesthetic, a set of principles that define and guide the movement, is beginning to emerge.

    Modern quilts and quilters:

    Make primarily functional rather than decorative quilts
    Use asymmetry in quilt design
    Rely less on repetition and on the interaction of quilt block motifs
    Contain reinterpreted traditional blocks
    Embrace simplicity and minimalism
    Utilize alternative block structures or lack of visible block structure
    Incorporate increased use of negative space
    Are inspired by modern art and architecture
    Frequently use improvisational piecing
    Contain bold colors, on trend color combinations and graphic prints
    Often use gray and white as neutrals
    Reflect an increased use of solid fabrics
    Focus on finishing quilts on home sewing machines
    Modern quilting has its roots in rebellion, in our desire to do something different, but simultaneously its feet are firmly planted in the field of tradition. Modern quilting is our response to what has come before. We are quilters first, modern quilters second. There are however, characteristics that set modern quilters apart from our traditional and art quilting friends.

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    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Go to the modern quilt guild web site and you will have a wealth of information. This is from their web site :
    Modern quilts and quilters:

    Make primarily functional rather than decorative quilts
    Use asymmetry in quilt design
    Rely less on repetition and on the interaction of quilt block motifs
    Contain reinterpreted traditional blocks
    Embrace simplicity and minimalism
    Utilize alternative block structures or lack of visible block structure
    Incorporate increased use of negative space
    Are inspired by modern art and architecture
    Frequently use improvisational piecing
    Contain bold colors, on trend color combinations and graphic prints
    Often use gray and white as neutrals
    Reflect an increased use of solid fabrics
    Focus on finishing quilts on home sewing machines

    I hope this helps. For more info visit www.themodernquiltquild.com

  8. #8
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Sorry, it seems that I posted the same comment as a quilter before me. Funny!

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    See? I knew this was the place to come for answers!

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    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Instead of "Modern Quilting" ... what about tagging it as

    "Not My Grandmother's Quilt"

    .....then explain that this is for quilts that just don't follow Granny's "rules" or style! etc.
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  11. #11
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    From MayInJersey and Tashana's posts ....
    Modern quilts and quilters:

    Make primarily functional rather than decorative quilts


    I was surprised at this ... traditional quilts were very functional ... and to me, it seems that the more modern quilts have headed towards art and decorative, non-functionality.

    Yes, JIMHO!
    (and a further endorsement as to why clear definitions are important!)
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  12. #12
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Each Modern Quild Guild has it's own "definition" of what constitutes Modern Quilting...and by doing so, defies a broad definition. Do you have a lot of modern quilters in your area? Is there an MQ guild? Ask them for guidance. Send a PM to Holice and ask his advice, both from the judging standpoint and the MQ movement standpoint. He's very interested in it and is soaking up knowledge.

    Many 'modern quilters' use very traditional patterns with modern fabrics and bolder colors. Where would you 'categorize' them? Are you sure you're ready to judge modern quilts separately from traditional quilts? They are not art quilts by a long shot. It is merely a contemporary style using mostly traditional construction techniques. Is there a separate category for civil war quilts or 1930's quilts? Just playing devil's advocate...not criticizing. Best of luck to you.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

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    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I admit I have no clue what is modern or not. Doubt I have made any.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  14. #14
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrider View Post
    Each Modern Quild Guild has it's own "definition" of what constitutes Modern Quilting...and by doing so, defies a broad definition. Do you have a lot of modern quilters in your area? Is there an MQ guild? Ask them for guidance. Send a PM to Holice and ask his advice, both from the judging standpoint and the MQ movement standpoint. He's very interested in it and is soaking up knowledge.

    Many 'modern quilters' use very traditional patterns with modern fabrics and bolder colors. Where would you 'categorize' them? Are you sure you're ready to judge modern quilts separately from traditional quilts? They are not art quilts by a long shot. It is merely a contemporary style using mostly traditional construction techniques. Is there a separate category for civil war quilts or 1930's quilts? Just playing devil's advocate...not criticizing. Best of luck to you.
    Good Thoughts .... and too, some would call "modern" quilts .... any that are made with those new fandangled rotary cutters!!! Or where assembly line sewing was done? Or nesting of seams (my Mother would be totally disgusted!)? or or or ........

    *gasp* Horrors of Horrors!

    What would our Mothers/Grandmother's think?
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    Talk about a can of worms. I think this is one of those "I know it when I see it" type things. And making a functional rather than decorative quilt doesn't fall into that category for me. Perhaps when taken with all the other criteria it works as Modern. Many of the "modern" quilts I've seen a guild are decorative. At least I consider it decorative when it was designed to hang on a wall. But then again, if the quilt was designed to brighten up a space by hanging it on the wall -- wouldn't that be functional?

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    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Personally, I think it's a distinction without a difference.

    http://courses.csusm.edu/fallacies/phantom.htm

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    Is there a "like" button for dunster's comment?

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    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    Personally, I think it's a distinction without a difference.
    Yeah, exactly! That's what I was trying to say...but made a mess of. *blush*
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

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    The new September/October 2012 issue of McCall's Quilting has an informative article about "Modern Quilting". There is an overview of the devopment of the movement and it's principles.

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    My strong advice is not to add a separate category. I believe there will be less confusion on all parties if there is not a separate category - primarily due to the fuzziness of what it is.

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    "we have added a new Modern Quilting category to the competition."

    -- Why? What prompted the committee to add this new category? If you can answer those questions, it could give you direction to come up with the description/definition.

    But it may not be possible to prevent a quilt from fitting more than one category. If that's the case then perhaps a requirement for the quilter to pick the best category for the quilt -- but the committee reserves the right to move the quilt to a more appropriate category if the committee feels it was entered into the wrong category. But that will really open up the committee to hurt feelings and cries of favoritism.

    Not knowing what the rest of the categories and descriptions are, I'm with Holice on this one.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    I have never entered my quilt in any show. There was a call by The Modern Quilt Guild for the first Quiltcon to be held in a few months in Austin, Texas. I was tempted to enter one of my quilts and then I got lost in the categories. I think my quilts do not fit anywhere. LOL. I don't care, I like them none the less.
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    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    In googling "modern quilt guild" and scrolling thru many sites I noticed several things and will jump in with my two cents here.

    Many of these quilts now appear to use large prints in previously (10 years ago) unpopular color combinations, yet these prints are 'all over' the fabric world today. ('Somebody' is buying them! That's good!)

    Many of the quilters appear to be younger than the average quilter previously (12-15 years ago) seen in the survey in QNMazagine whixh was 54 years old. (Yippee!! New blood always regenerates.)

    Many of these quilts seem to be made in styles highly reminiscent of 'leading edge' quilters of the late 1980s and mid 1990s, such as Johnathan Shannon, Katie Pasquini, Yvonne Porcella, Nancy Crow, Ruth McDowell, Terrie Mangat, and tens and tens of others I can't think of off the top of my head at the moment. Their quilts were award-winning, controversial, discussion-provoking then, and the same styles are so now, apparently.

    And then there was the "discovery" of the Gees Bend Quilters in the very early 2000s.......!!!

    It seems there really isn't much "new" under the sun. I, personally, love it!! (...though I may still be focused on "traditional" blocks done in "traditional" colors for the most part, in my personal quilt journey. )

    Jan in VA
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  24. #24
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    All true, Jan, and don't forget Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. Their FunQuilts Studio has been renamed Modern Quilt Studio to get in on the 'new' trend of what they've always done. They're "all in" with the MQ movement. Denyse Schmidt is another.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  25. #25
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrider View Post
    All true, Jan, and don't forget Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. Their FunQuilts Studio has been renamed Modern Quilt Studio to get in on the 'new' trend of what they've always done. They're "all in" with the MQ movement. Denyse Schmidt is another.
    Yes! And I know there will be more mentioned, that I probably haven't thought of in years, honestly, since I left Texas 6 years ago and am no longer closely tied to the "industry". Thanks for mentioning them all!

    And Debra Lunn/Mike Mrowka! See, there are so many!

    Jan in VA
    Last edited by Jan in VA; 09-11-2012 at 05:49 PM.
    Jan in VA
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