BLOCK Friday: Art Quilts

Bon Echo Rock quilt kitHave you been to an art museum lately? If the answer is no, I highly encourage you take a visit sometime in the near future. You won’t regret it. I know I’ve said it one hundred times before, but as a quilter, you’re an artist. You’ve got an eye for beauty, and creativity comes naturally to you.

Quilting is the way you work out stress at the end of a long week or the way you unwind your thoughts and emotions. Quilting has helped you heal; it helps you stay healthy.

The gorgeous art you’ll find in a museum is great for inspiring new creativity and for finding inspiration. Quilts of all kinds are considered beautiful art pieces, but art quilts, in particular, are a unique type of quilt because often, they’re totally improvised.

Take a strip of blue here and a patch of red there and make a beautiful sunset scene come to life. This quilt, Down by the Dock in the Bay, looks like it could be improvised, but there actually is a pattern to it.

Down by the Dock in the Bay quilt kit

Art quilts themselves can be a seemingly ambigous concept. When the question is asked, “What is art quilting?”, it’s important to first determine whether quilting is an art or a craft. The truth is, it’s a subjective designation.

Some quilters consider themselves crafters – they take big blocks of fabric, chop them up, and “paste” them back together into something that takes shape as a thing of beauty. Other quilters consider themselves artists – they see every quilt they make as a memory of a time, and they captured the essence of their imagination in creating their art quilt. Some quilters see themselves as both and others as neither. Regardless, I think we can all agree, quilters are proud of their work.

The one component of an art quilt is that it is created based on an experience, a memory or an image. That leaves the prospect of what can be considered an art quilt pretty wide open. For example, simply repeating a quilt block can create a stunning themed quilt perfect for drawing on the memory of a holiday or special occasion. The quilt below, Flag of Freedom by Marianne Fons, is a gorgeous patriotic display.

I wonder where her inspiration comes from. Perhaps Jasper Johns’ masterpiece Three Flags?

Flag of Freedom digital pattern

Similarly, this quilt, Strawberries, is made up of one simple quilt block whose construction takes it one step further from the patchwork we commonly associated with a quilt to a little strawberry garden. Imagine hanging just one of these quilt blocks on your wall. It would be simply delicious!

I wonder if the inspiration for this quilt came from a work of art, perhaps found in a museum. I’m seeing a striking resemblence between this quilt and the Personalised Paper Strawberry Artwork by SWEET DIMPLE.

Strawberries Quilt Pattern

So, again, I say, if you haven’t been to a museum lately, make a visit soon. A lot of quilters get their quilting inspiration from home decor or from nature, but occasionally it’s good to be intentional about seeking quilting inspiration.

Have you ever done improv quilting before? I want to see pictures of your art quilts. Post them in the comments.

Happy Quilting!

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