Monday, July 31, 2006

Some Quilt Talk

Despite the heading on my blog, quilting doesn't seem to put in an appearance very often. However, over the last few days I have been making plans to attend Quilt Symposium 2007. We have this symposium every two years in New Zealand. Unlike the big American quilt events, it doesn't stay in one place but travels around. This one is to be held in Palmerston North, where my best high school friend lives, conveniently around the corner from the high school where the classes, lectures and some of the exhibitions are being held. So, I have booked my (free) accommodation with her, and booked my airfares. Now, I just have to finish filling out the class selection form, and send it in with a very fat cheque.

I'm not going to try and do five full days of classes. I'm going for three days, plus an extra two hour class on the Bernina Aurora sewing machines. These are the official hire machines for the symposium, and coincidentally I bought one early this year, so it will be good to find out some of what they can do. That gives me a day and a half free for relaxing, viewing exhibitions etc.

I think my first choice of class is going to be this one. The alternative is a class with Jane Sassaman. That might be my first choice, probably this one, except that I did a class with her last time she was in New Zealand, around eight years ago. (I like that it is described as "especially beneficial for the drawing impaired and the tragically literal"). That was the last symposium I attended in full, so I'm quite excited about going to this one. Four years ago it was in Christchurch, and I skipped out of work in my lunch breaks to go to some of the lectures, as well as seeing all the exhibitions on my free days, but I didn't do any classes. I stopped taking classes for quite a while, because it's too easy to become a class junkie, and not put in any effort developing a work habit, and a personal style, in between. But right now I feel the need for the excitement of being around all those quilts and quilters.

I find it interesting comparing quilt workshops with poetry workshops. So many quilt workshops that are offered, are basically product classes. "Here is my quilt design, this is how you make it" (with or without variations). This would never happen with poetry of course. The equivalent would be calligraphy, or a class in Microsoft Word, finding out how to set out the given words in the same pattern with the tab keys etc! It's the "craft not art" side of quilting. And it's what makes workshop junkies - those people who can't make a quilt without being shown how to do it. I wouldn't normally take one of those classes, because if I really wanted to make that quilt, I'd look at the picture and figure out how. I prefer "process" classes - classes that show me a particular technique, or a way of designing, that I can then put to use in my own way. This is still different from most poetry workshops I've been to. There, the emphasis is mostly on sources for ideas. Technique doesn't seem to be mentioned, often. Strangely, though I like the "sources of ideas" approach for poetry workshops, I'm wary of the few quilt workshops that are based on that approach. I think it's a matter of trust. Do I trust that this particular teacher can offer an inspiring workshop, or did they just think it sounded good? Will it leave me feeling uninspired and flat? At least with a technique, I can reliably expect to learn something.

Actually, I wouldn't mind a few technique-based poetry workshops. For instance, a focus on striking metaphors, or on the uses of alliteration, or on post-modern techniques, since I'm still not really clear what "post modernism" means. I'd like to learn more about it, even if it's just to find out for sure that I don't want to use it.


Kay Cooke said...

It all sounds very exciting and inspiring. The comparison of poetry to quilting might make a good poem some day?

paris parfait said...

It's wonderful that you're participating in a workshop. I've always wanted to learn how to quilt - my late grandmothers did it so beautifully - but have never taken the time. I also like the comparison/contrast of quilting with poetry and agree with chiefbiscuit - good material (literally and figuratively) for a future poem.

Deb R said...

The thing of product vs. process is the primary reason I never take quilt classes. The only two quilt-related ones I ever took (years ago!) were a fabric dyeing class and a beginning free-motion machine quitling class...both process classes! The product classes sound boring to me.

Madeleine said...

i think your lst sentence said it all. knowing what you don't want can sometimes be more useful than knowing what you do want.

i hope you enjoy it. please show us the end results