Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My New Machine

My New Machine

This week I got my new Handi Quilter Fusion longarm machine and 12 foot table, together with a ProStitcher computerized system.  I have been looking forward to this for a long time, because I want to start my new series of quilts, quilts that will represent a different approach to using this equipment. It has long seemed to me that it was a waste of technology to use this fantastic machine for anything even close to hand quilting designs, anything like we have done in the past. With such a new sophisticated device we should be able to make new sophisticated quilts. 

I think one of the fundamental building blocks of our quilt world is a misunderstanding of the actual tradition and how transgressive, how revolutionary it was. 19th century American women blew up the European ways of making quilts, dynamited it and started over. Their definition not only included the possibility that every woman could invent her own design, but also the possibility that her design did not have to resemble anything that had come before. 

In the 1970's, by contrast, we all learned that the ONLY thing we should do is to base our quilts on what had come before. There were a few voices in the wilderness crying out that it was not necessary, but for the most part symmetrical, block-style quiltmaking was the only proper and acceptable approach. In order to propagate this idea we had to ignore all those quilts that did not fit in with this idea. And we had to re-conceive of the tradition as one of confinement, not one of glorious freedom. 

So, when I saw one of these beauties a while ago, my mind drifted instantly to all those images and designs I have  floating around in my mind's eye without any way to transcribe them. Now I have a way. Now I can put up and shut up. I can stop complaining about the feather and scrolly designs so ubiquitous in the quilt world and actually produce some alternatives. 

We'll see how it works out. For now I had better just get to work and learn this technology. I can't wait.