Friday 26 June 2020

Quilt Stories (also known as Artist's Statements)

Our exhibition is getting closer! This week I'm going to give a short talk to our guild about Quilt Stories.  You know, that blurb the quilt maker writes to go with their quilt.  

Disclaimer - I'm no expert when it comes to grammar and sentence formation, but I do know what I like to read when I go to a quilt show. 

I know many quilters are modest people and struggle to say something positive about their own quilts!
But I urge you to be proud of your own work.  You've chosen to enter it into the exhibition, so make sure your Quilt Story presents it in it's best light.   Don't tell us what's wrong with it, but rather tell us some interesting facts about it.  I've provided some examples below.

Most exhibitions put a limit on how long a Quilt Story can be.  It's usually about 60-100 words, so you have ample room to write three short sentences.  I tend to write:
  • what inspired me to make this quilt
  • an interesting aspect of the quilt
  • anything else of interest

Please don't drop the pronouns from your story.  There's plenty of room to write "I". For example:
I made this quilt from the scraps I had accumulated over the past three years. (15 words)
is much nicer to read than
Had too many brown scraps so had to use them up. (11 words)

Here's some examples for you:

1. What inspired you to make this quilt?
  • I've always enjoyed needleturn applique and I fell in love with this pattern when it was released three years ago.
  • I've always wanted to make a snowball quilt and I love the fabrics used in this pattern from Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in Italy book.
  • My mum taught me to English Paper Piece when I was about 10 years old, and she would be delighted to see I'm still doing it now.
  • I saw a beautiful blue and white quilt in the Festival of Quilts in the UK, so I came home and created my own version from all the scraps I had saved over the years.
  • I decided to start using all the Liberty fabrics that I had collected over the years.  I found this wonderful pattern by xxx and have happily spent the last three years sewing my Liberty pieces together.
  • My granddaughter loves Elsa from Frozen, so when I saw this panel I knew I had to make it for her. 
You get the drift? Tell people what drew you to your pattern or fabrics. 

2. An interesting aspect of the quilt
  • The quilt was a block of the month and each month I eagerly awaited the next pattern release.
  • This is my first attempt at wool felt applique.
  • I started this quilt in a foundation paper piecing class with xxx.  
  • I've recently started using rulers with my machine quilting and they've enabled to be achieve quite a different look. 
  • This colour palette is different to my usual style, but I love the result.
  • I hand quilted my quilt with 12wt variegated thread. 
  • This quilt was started 10 years ago in a class with xxx.  I found it again when I cleaned out my sewing room during the COVID-19 lockdown.  I took it to retreat and finished it there.
  • This quilt has been all around the world.  I've worked on it on planes, trains and ships.  It reminds me of my travels through Europe in 2018.   
Tell people something about your quilt that they might not notice immediately.

3. Anything else of interest
  • If you're going to give the quilt away, who is it going to? a grandchild? a wedding gift? charity?
  • How long did it take you to make it?
  • Are these fabrics a departure from your usual style?
The third sentence isn't essential, but it helps the reader to know a bit more about you and your quilt.

Be proud of your work. You spent many hours making this quilt, and it's hanging in an exhibition for just one weekend.  Stand tall and say "Yes, I made that".  

Now it's time for the Peacock Party.  What have you been up to this week?  Feel free to link up a recent blog post below. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Gretchen Weaver said...

Your quilts are so beautiful! I love your black dress with the pink flowers, you look so elegant. Happy stitching! said...

What gorgeous quilts! Each one is so detailed that I need to go back and see them with a zoom. Thank you for sharing your talents.

Genevieve Gerrard said...

I think this is great advice! I was hoping to exhibit for the first time this year, but with everything cancelled due to Covid, it will have to wait a little longer. Will bear this in mind when the day finally arrives!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

so many pretty quilts I love them all.

For the love of geese said...

Very insightful post Wendy, thank you. And thank you for the linky party.

FlourishingPalms said...

Your quilts are always so intricate, and beautifully account for hundreds of hours you spend making them. I like to enter my quilts in shows, but these days, unless you're a fantastic quilt photographer for on-line/virtual shows, quilt display opportunaties have drastically changed (except for New Zealand). Write-up are pleasant for me, but then I have a journalism degree! Thinking from the perspective of the quilt-viewer helps me include all the right information. Most often I include content details like fabrics, batting type, threads used, and how it was quilted. That's the stuff I most often like to read myself. I am seldom inspired to make an interpretive quilt - one that accounts for the cultural or political climate. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Cathy said...

Thanks for the little lesson!
And I can see why you stand proud. Those quilts are beauties!

Daryl @ Patchouli Moon Studio said...

Wendy you are amazing! Love all the quilts and the colors and designs!

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE those quilts. This is great information - I think we can apply it to blogging too!

Gale Bulkley said...

Excellent and very helpful advice. Thank you very much.

Rochelle aka Bella Quilts said...

Oh, such wonderful and helpful advice. It is always difficult for me to write about myself and my quilting. These ideas should help all of us bashful quilters write 100 words that will catch the viewers attention and convey the pleasure and thoughts that went into the quiltmaking. Thank you.

Jocelyn is Canadian Needle Nana said...

I adore these beautiful...and also these wonderful photos of such a happy quilter. I especially love that black outfit you are wearing in one of them. You look wonderful!

Bonnie said...

Nice ideas when writing up quilter statement. I need to bookmark this site for future entry write ups. Thanks for sharing.

Leanne said...

Thank you for these tips - I've never entered a quilt in a show .... who knows it might happen one day. Leanne

audrey said...

Thanks for the great advice Wendy! I really over-stress about this detail, probably because I always feel a bit of a fraud, like I'm not nearly good enough to be entering a show!

Susan said...

I'm never likely to need an 'artist statement' because my quilts are never going to be exhibited anywhere. But I think explaining where the name of a quilt is always a good option. The reason of course that I say this is ...have you ever spent a summer in Torquay? Or did you name that quilt, which I love, by the way, because that's where Amitie is now located? Just curious, I guess!

Marly said...

Thank you for the information and advice. I've only exhibited three times, and each time "selling myself" (that's what it felt like) was difficult. I think your check list would have helped me enormously. I'm bookmarking this post, so that next time I'll be more matter of fact, and not make excuses for myself.

dq said...

Thanks for the wonderful insight about writing a quilt story! Your show quilts are to die for! I just love all of the COLOR!

Judy B said...

I remember seeing a pretty quilt, not stunning, but the story that went with it made it one of the best quilts in that particular exhibition.

It was started when the maker fell in love with fabrics and pattern, but eventually she fell out of love with the design, then the fabrics, so put it away. A year or two later she tried again, but again put it away. Eventually she got it out again with the intention of finishing it and giving it away as quickly as possible. It didn't quite happen as she intended. She worked quickly, not being too fussy but making sure it wouldn't fall to pieces, and during this time she started to fall in love with it again. When finished she put it to use just as she had planned to use it.

Judy B said...

I was around when a quilt was being spread on a bed during set up of an exhibition. Lovely design, beautiful colours, but the workmanship left a lot to be desired.

Next day the exhibition opened and the quilts were all labelled, including the one on the bed. Turned out it was made by a retired doctor, who retired way over the retirement age ... because she couldn't see to stitch up her patients.

Mystic Quilter said...

Beautiful colourful quilts and excellent information!