What Kind Of Quilter Are You?

cover Intentional Printing

Lynn Krawczyk’s new book Intentional Printing has a great introduction to help you get the most of her fabric printing techniques. She recommends that before you even start you need to be aware of the way you approach fabric art.

Lynn sets out three types of artistic personalities – the Ph.D. artist, the flower child artist, and the worrier artist – and the characteristics that can make creating art more difficult than it needs to be.

The Ph.D. artist researches everything to a fare-thee-well before starting to work.  Such research can cover how the chemical composition of the paint affects the life expectancy of a print, the optimal angle for holding a tool, and, in the case of quilters, the exact correct needle for a weight of thread. Lynn points out that this urge to know everything before starting to work can become a procrastination tool.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the flower child artist who is all play all the time, and who believes instructions are for sissies.  The danger of this approach is that lack of focus and constant experimentation can hinder developing mastery of a manageable number of techniques. You may recognize this personality in quilters who have drawers full of class samples made in every conceivable quilting technique.

Lynn’s last artistic personality, the worrier, is especially pervasive among quilters I’ve known.  This person believes if it isn’t perfect it isn’t worth doing, and worries about what others will think of her work. Criticism can undo her and inhibit her ability to work. Too often this person takes the quilt police’s commandments as gospel. You know, thou shalt not machine sew down thy binding. Sheesh!

In reality I suspect most of us are a blend of these personalities. I know I’m inclined to the flower child artistic personality with a pinch of the worrier. I’ll leave it to you to figure out your artistic personality.


Filed under Books, Commentary

6 responses to “What Kind Of Quilter Are You?

  1. Judy

    Like all of you, I am a mix of flowers and worries. I usually start out with a fuzzy idea of what I want to do. From there I think about the hows. As I go, I make decisions at each step, because the fabrics and the piece itself wants to go a certain way, and usually not in the way I initially envisioned.

    With no formal art background [Worrier], I do like to learn techniques, but at this point, if it is immediately clear that it won’t work for what I do, I shelve it. It may resurface at a later date.

    I find that the pieces I like best are very personal to me and I have to let go of the realization that other people may not appreciate it the way I do. But those techniques… and stash searches… and early morning rising, help me along the way.

    • I think it’s good to have a stash of techniques as well as fabric in reserve for use when needed. My problem is remembering how to do the technique. Of course, it would help if I took better notes, or kept a journal documenting each step.

  2. I am definitely the flower child!
    I like all the Ph.D info (from other people), but only after I have experimented enough to understand what they are talking about.
    I do have a little bit of the worrier too – not so much about matching corners, etc., but I do worry about imagery and subject matter – “I can’t do a circle that is half red and half blue, because I’ve seen that somewhere – someone else has staked out that image for their design identity.” This worry is with me even if I am working on a sketch or something no one will ever see. I need to unleash my inner flower child when that feeling comes up!

    • Many images seep into our unconscious without any footnotes as to where they came from. My way of trying to deal with this is to acknowledge the inspiration as far as I’m able to – a book, someone’s photo, a website, etc.

  3. hmmm… Not sure I fit into any of those categories. My difficulties seem to hinge on product/output, and on some level of intimidation. The product problem is that I LIKE to finish things, as real things. And “just” experimenting can mean you have things that aren’t worth finishing. They’re exercises, practice, not the real thing. And as far as intimidation, I’m not intimidated by what other people think, or even myself (except relative to the product problem.) My intimidation is just in using a new thing or technique. I’d like someone to show me first. And it isn’t always easy to line someone up to show me.

    • It may relate to how you learn best. I can often figure an approach out from written instructions, and the advent of online video has made it a lot easier to see how something is done. On the other hand, a friend of mine seems to learn best in an actual classroom setting with a live teacher. It’s always interesting to find out what she remembers from a class when I’ve attended the same one. Between the two of us we can often reconstruct the whole process. She really can’t work from written instructions. As for practice exercises, I try to use them as fabric in a larger project, but then I’m usually coloring the fabric in some fashion. And doing practice exercises relieves my worry that I’ll ruin my “good” project. I do plenty of that even after practicing.

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