Saturday, April 30, 2011

Can someone explain quilt shows to me?

So my friend Carla and I went to a quilt show today in Benicia, Ca. She told me about it yesterday and I happened to be in the neighborhood because my daughter takes tennis lessons about 20 minutes away. 20 minutes if you know where you are going. 45 minutes if you leave your GPS at home and have to call your son to get directions from the GPS which is sitting on the computer table with the address all typed in. I drove around and got a grand tour of Benicia. Places I never knew I wanted to see, like the oil refineries and downtown and backroads and twisty lanes and...

So, I got there and Carla and her daughter were there and we wandered around and looked at all of the fancy quilts that took people many, many hours to make and I asked her what exactly the point of a quilt show was. I've been to probably 5 quilt shows in my life and I still don't get it.

You see, I have a different view of the purpose of a quilt. I see a quilt as something you make and give and use. These quilts don't look like they are ever supposed to be used. They have signs on them saying DO NOT TOUCH and there are ladies walking around with white gloves who will look at you sternly if you even breathe on the quilts and who offer to turn the quilt over so you can look at the back (??) and there are people studying the quilts and trying to figure out the pattern and talking about the stitching and mathing seams and corners and perfectly matched fabrics.

I can't imagine spending more than about 3 hours on a quilt. I can't imagine hanging a quilt on the wall to just look at. I can't imagine not touching a quilt. After all, they are washable. Part of the experience of a quilt is the tactile experience you get from touching the fabric. I remember when I was a kid and walking through the fabric store with my mom. She would touch all of the fabrics as we went through the store. It was natural for me to do the same thing and I still do when I walk through a quilt store. Each fabric elicits a different response. It isn't the same to look and not touch.

So, I'm not so sure I'll be going back to another quilt show. I can look at quilts in books and for $7 I can get a book that I can look at again and again.

What are your feelings on quilt shows? Do you love them or hate them? Why do you go? Do you get inspired or feel like the quilts you make will never measure up? Have you ever entered a quilt show? Maybe with different perspectives I will go again and see things differently.


Kasey said...

I guess the super-elaborate, do not touch quilts at shows are the ones made by "artists" and not "quilters." Having only entered/attended one show, I felt grossly inadequate and yet inspired and buffeted- I did MY best with my machine, and so shouldn't compare myself to the people who have $30,000+ longarms, software, heck, even more than 2 rulers! Quilt shows are kind of like art shows when they feature the unusable quilts... but, personally, it is SO much more fun to give my quilts away as gifts, even baby gifts- I like knowing some of them will be puked on, dragged around, slept under, and loved to death!

Carla said...

Its an art show for some. I enjoy making more involved quilts to surround myself with in my home and gift to my friends. But I also feel fortunate to have the ability and means to make so many warm cuddlies for kids who need them. I felt very welcome hanging my household quilts on display in the North Wind Quilt Guild show.

Stormy Days said...

I think it's nice to see what people have made. I do like to think that after the show they are used and loved. I've only been to two shows, one was local and terrible, not because of the quilts, but because the ladies were all quilt police, nothing nice to say. The second was at a county fair and the quilts took my breath away.