Monday, April 23, 2007

Journal Quilts at the Chicago Quilt Festival

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
This year at the Chicago Quilt Festival, I spent most of my free time absorbing two stimulating exhibitions. You already saw examples of the first (fabric postcards) posted last week. The second was a large exhibit of Journal Quilts. Personal, unique, moving and technically out-of-the-box, these quilts deserved far more time than I had. You may want to click to enlarge some of these images... I promise they'll load quickly.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
The idea of the project was for each participating artist to make one quilt per month, each the size of standard computer paper (8.5 by 11 inches). The exhibition featured five quilts from each of about 400 artists. That's a lot of quilts, a lot to absorb, a giant stew of inspiration!

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Some reflect the artist's feelings about troubling international events, such as the ones above. In this case, the artist, Frances Caple, says she is not very political, but was so distressed by the killing of many children at Qana (left) and the distruction caused by landmines (right) that she had to deal with these subjects in her quilts.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Some artists use their montly quilts as a means to practice traditional piecing and quilting techniques on a small scale, and to experiment with various color combinations. The quit above, by Alyson M. Olander, is a compelling example.


Some obviously let their play instinct be in charge, making quilts full of whimsey and joy, such as the set above by Ruthie Powers.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Ahhhhh, here's a set that speaks to my passion... Beaded embellishments added sparkle, texture and interest to many of the quilts.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Some, like the set above, are amazingly realistic, obviously revealing the artist's ability to draw and/or paint. I am in awe of the "painterly quality" in the set above, by Elizabeth Poole.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Some, like the set above, just make me happy. To me, this group has the same feeling as my painted decorative papers. It's all about layers, shapes, colors and textures! Yummmmm!

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
I think it was the colors which attracted me to the above set by Jane Davila. There's an article in the Feb/March 2007 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine about how she prints these fish, taking impressions from a painted rubber fish.

What do YOU think? Does looking at these make you want to see more? Or, even more exciting, does it make you want to start your own monthy journal in whatever medium you prefer? What about a monthly knit or collage or bead embroidery journal?

You see, we're back to working in series again, a topic I wrote about here. Below is a small selection of the journal exhibition, showing a few quilts from three artists. If you mixed up the "pages," anybody would be able to sort them out again, because each has a "style" unique to the artist. If you polled all 400+ artists who have participated in this project, don't you think each would reply that one of the benefits was the inevitible development of personal style? I bet that every one of them now has a greater sense of security about who they are as an artist.

Journal Quilt Project, Chicago Quilt Festival, 2007
If you'd like to see more of this work, you can check through the pages of this website, which loads amazingly fast and offers click-to-enlarge on all of the pictures. Or, you can purchase the book, and be able to savor more than 400 images and read the artists' comments about their inspirations and techniques at your leisure.

The Journal Quilt Project has been active for 5 years (since 2002). I was told at the exhibition in Chicago that this was the last year for the formal organization of it. However, in the same way it was begun, any one of us could make a personal committment to do a monthy journal, starting right now! It could be very private, or shared on our blogs. What about a monthy Journal Bead Project? Is there anybody out there who would like to join me in challenging yourself to creating one beaded journal page per month starting in May? As busy as I am, the idea just tickles my fancy!

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Sorry about not being able to provide the artist's name for a few of the above quilts. I thought I had them all written on a couple of scraps of paper, but I must have dropped or lost one of the papers somehow. Help me out, if you can, and I'll update the post as soon as I get the information.

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We'll be returning to finger weaving in my next post! If you have something (pictures, questions, related topic suggestions, links or comments) you'd like me to include, please email me or leave a comment below.

17 comments:

  1. Robin, How great is that? I love this idea, now that I see what a journal quilt is about. I can see doing this size every month though! Not in beads. Now a 4" X 4" book would be feasible to me and I might accept that challenge. What do you think? You ready?

    Also, I'm meeting the woman who made the bead you'd posted from the Canadian felting person, (I think I have that right, but may not, so the one that looked liked a nautilus shell in different colors. I'll email you about that later.

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  2. No way would I be able to do an 8.5 x 11 inch beaded "page" every month. I'm with Mary on that one. She suggests 4" square. What about ATC size? ATCs are 2.5 x 3.5 inches - it would be about the same volume but in a rectangular format rather than square. I'm really warming up to the committment.

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  3. Thanks Robin for posting the inspiring photos from Chicago. I hope you've recouped your energy somewhat...those big shows can be draining. Last Fall, I had the pleasure of being one of the judges at the Creativ Festival in Toronto and here's a link to their ATC competition entries
    www.creativfestival.ca and then click on Fall show and then Artist Trading Cards.I'm amazed at the detail some of the artists manage to create in such a small space! I'm intrigued by your challenge and just might take you up on that as I could use the discipline in working smaller! Best Wishes, Léonie

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  4. Joan Cromley11:41 AM

    The challenge sounds exciting, like the butterfly quilt project. What would happen to the finished cards? How would the pictures be shared? My brain is just flooded with possibilities (I love the ideas of series)! Please keep running with this idea, I'd love to participate!

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  5. Sue in MV, WA10:20 PM

    Funny that you should bring this up as I have just completed my first journal quilt! It is beaded, but not solid bead embroidery like you tend to do. I'm going to continue on in the 8.5 x 11" format, piecing and beading intuitively. I am including my favorite shade of green in each of my journal quilts, hoping that the healing and rejuvinating power of green will have an influence on my body. My overarching intention is to acquire that stronger sense of my personal style as an artist.

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  6. I remember seeing the JQ exhibit in Chicago in 2005...I found it so moving to see so many women expressing themselves...the effect was cumulative!
    It made me so glad to live in this country...I couldn't imagine anything remotely like this in other parts of the world.
    Thanks for the report...

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  7. To Mary, Joan, Sue and Leonie ~ Well there seems to be 5 of us interested so far. I'm thinking it's ok to skip the group rules, and let each person make their own decisions about what this will be. We'd each attempt to make 12 bead journal pages, one per month. But we'd leave the details open (about things like size). How does that sit with you?

    To Leonie ~ Nice website pictures of ATC's... thanks for the link!

    To Joan ~ Please share any and all of your ideas!

    To Sue ~ I believe this is an excellent way to work toward your goal!

    To Allie ~ I agree... we are fortunate in so many ways... personal expression through art is one of them for sure!

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  8. Sue in MV, WA1:12 PM

    Works for me! I'd love to be able to see photos of what everyone else is doing. We just bought a digital camera so eventually I'll be able to post photos of my work somewhere. (Got to pry it out of DH's hands so I can learn how to use it too!)

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  9. I have signed up for the 2007 Journal Quilt Project which is to be the last installment. The rules have changed a little, the size is 17x22 and you only make one. The quilts will be exhibited in Houston this fall and in Chicago next spring.

    Robin, I would like to participate in your bead journal page group too. I think the small size will work for me and will fit better in my schedule. Thanks for the challenge and the inspiration to try working more in a series.

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  10. To Sue in MV ~ Great! There will be a time and place for photos, for sure, but I also think it would be OK for anybody who doesn't what to share, to not participate in the photo sharing.

    To SueU ~ Thanks for the clarification about the Quilt Jurnal Project, and WONDERFUL that you want to take the challenge of the Bead Journal Project as well.

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  11. Léonie5:05 PM

    Hi Robin:
    I like your idea to keep things open - that way people can make a commitment to the group, yet choose the size journal pages they feel they can personally cope with over the twelve month period. That might encourage less stress and drop-out possibilities. Are you going to set a date, ie end of the month or whenever so we have a goal to work towards or what did you have in mind? Thanks for offering up this challenge and
    whatever you decide on, please count me in!

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  12. Just finished all the obligations of this month and I love the open format and all that. I'm making mine small and have the first page in draft already as I like a plan that can change if I want it to. Dale is thinking she'd like to participate too.

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  13. To All ~ Let's start in June... I'll make an official announcemet in a couple of days, and then I'll need all of you to help spread the word. Whoeeee! This will be so much fun!

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  15. Count me in, Robin. This looks like a wonderful experience. I love the idea of small monthly beaded journal pages (should they be completely beaded or a combination?) -- I will finish my one outstanding commitment this week and other than my little Black & White piece I am free to bead away. Looking forward to beading along with all of you.

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  16. Sounds great to me...and june would be a great time to start!

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  17. hello--I think I would like to do this--maybe using a small cardboard book and altering it? with bead work? small is good for me...
    please add me to your group
    aurora in berkeley

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Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!