So, let me start out by saying that I live in Lancaster and look forward to the AQS show when it comes here. It is an Anniversary for me. Two years ago, in 2013, I attended the show here for the first time in Lancaster and posted on Facebook as I looked around, ” I feel very tall and young.” I found out that year, that the AQS show’s average age of attendance was 63 (that quote came from the press box). At the time, I was in my early 40’s.
So, in my past life, I have a business degree and I looked around the show and asked myself, “Where is this industry going?” It literally looked like it was dieing off. As an art form, the quilts were amazing, the detail was impeccable, and the art of sewing was stellar. But where are the people that will carry on this tradition and art form? I did not see another generational gap there to carry on the art form. I was feeling young at 40ish there but I also looked and felt like a fish out of water.
But who sews anymore? Who is going to pass on these amazing skills. At that point in my life, I thought that grandma taught you to sew. Mine taught me. I could do basic sewing, like a button or a stuffed pillow, but what I saw at the show was an art form that was amazing and artistic. Sewing was not just a domestic skill, who knew?
So, welcome to the Modern World of Quilting.
I started Googling what the different blocks were called, what their historic value was, and how to construct them. Thank you: YouTube, Craftsy, Pinterest, Flickr, and Creativebug!!!!
You are my Modern Grandma.
So, back to “Where is Quilting going?”
So, after the Lancaster AQS show in March 2013 I went searching for an answer and learned about Quiltcon 2013 that had just happened in February in Austin, Texas. I had just missed it! Quiltcon was a “Modern” Quilt Show. Filled with young and old, internet savy, graphic artists, fine art majors, engineers, mathematicians (who knew), and traditional quilters all looking for something different but all looking for a medium to express their creativity. They found it in “Modern” quilting.
The church ladies have moved out of the basement and onto the internet!
I found a world of people, literally “around the world,” all connecting on the internet. All ages, languages, and varied sewing abilities. They were all talking about this “Quiltcon” and how they left so inspired, excited, and consumed with creativity.
I need to go to QUILTCON!
I made a goal for myself to be at the next one in 2015 and I made my goal.
Quiltcon vs. AQS Lancaster?
I left Quiltcon this past February so energized, excited, motivated, head spinning with ideas and just a great sense of community. I was encouraged to make mistakes, and learn from them. For the last month I have not been able to stop drawing, EQ7ing, or just doing some improv pieces.
They expressed that you should be original. Learn from those mistakes. Create something with that mistake.
DO YOU and love it!
And then I went to AQS Lancaster last week,
Well, I took a class and the person next to me told me that “Wonky” was another word for mistake.
Really, here we go…
She will only follow a pattern. I respect that. Not everyone is comfortable just playing around. And then it went downhill… “and anyone that thinks “wonky” is a creative interpretation, is wrong.”
I was heart broken.
And then I went to look at the quilt displays at my lunch break.
As usual, they were beautiful and mind boggling. But this year there was no modern quilt section? Last year AQS had a great entry category of Modern Quilt (upstairs, along the back, facing the back wall with little light.. but hey, they had one). I thought that AQS was starting to realize the business of quilting and that they were recognizing a Modern category. I was hopefull.
Not this year, it must have been a special exhibit last year.
So how does the industry stack up today?
When I went to Quiltcon, it was quoted that the industry as a whole is comprised of the following:
80% is Traditional
13% is Non-Traditional/ Quilt Art
7% is Modern
However, the Modern Quilt Guild grew over 600% in the last 18 months. That is crazy in a business sense! As a business, I understand that the Modern definition is not the dominate. But, looking at the growth, where will the industry be in 2 years?
I’m excited to see!
I’m not trying to bust on either show or either demographic or style of quilters. I love traditional quilting and appreciate the history and nostalgia that goes into the beautiful historic blocks. If you ask any modern quilter they will agree. A lot of them got into modern to allow themselves to play “off” of the opportunities the block designs give them. I just wish that more traditional quilters could be more open and accepting of different styles.
As a parent, I teach my children to respect others opinions but still be open new possibilities. I teach them to embrace new ideas and to learn from them. So why can’t the adults in this world abide by the values that they too were probably brought up to abide by. It is easier to work together than to work against each other. I think we have a good start.
So the next time you see a traditional or a modern quilt, look at the work and time it took someone. Regardless of its style, someone put a lot of heart into.