An Exercise in Minimalism

I caught a documentary on Herb and Dorothy Vogel, the proletarian art collectors, on the weekend and was intrigued by the type of art they collected. They focussed on conceptual art and minimalist art. It was the minimalist art that intrigued me. I don't particularly like minimalist art because I usually find it cold, but I also don't understand it very well either. I started reading more about it. And I started thinking. You know that spells trouble, eh?

What might a minimalist quilt look like?

I considered different quilt styles. Wholecloth? Although the top is not pieced, the quilting often has trapunto and is usually pretty elaborate so no, probably not whole cloth, unless it was done differently. Amish? Simple style, yes, but still more elaborate than minimalist art. Gee's Bend/Improv? No, don't think so.

There's Alissa Haight Carlton's book, Modern Minimal, for good inspiration. There's also Lindsay Stead's quilts. Yum! I also found a great Pinterest board of inspiration.

What's über minimalist though? Something that's basic to art? What's a fundamental part of art and design? A line? Yes, let's go with a line.

Using the rule of thirds in design, I put in a 1" black strip of fabric in a 23" by 44" piece of white (Kona Snow). I want this piece to be one of the quilts that I rotate in our kitchen so it will be about the same size as Happy Canada Day, Eh! and Purplelicious. I chose this rough size to account for shrinkage from the quilting and trimming.

There. That's pretty minimalist, right?


But wait, it's not a quilt yet. What might minimalist quilting look like? Is it barely quilted or just simply quilted? Is it quilted at all? Thoughts?

Find out how my challenge turned out on Friday. Oh, and I'm also keeping track of the time and materials spent on this to do another Value and Worth exercise. :)

Comments

  1. This is inarguably minimal. As for the quilting, ideas may vary. I would argue that without a certain amount of quilting, the work ceases to be a quilt (as in, held together by quilting stitches), and becomes fabric art with a few lines of stitching on it. I don't think there is complete agreement on how much quilting is enough to do the job, even amongst traditional quilters. Perhaps the minimalism can come from the simplicity of variety--as in, it is quilted using only straight lines or only pebbles, making it of a singular texture, even though the amount could be enough to definitely hold the top to the batting and back. In contrast, would be a quilt with feathers, and swirls, and pebbles, and so on, filling in all the space. Quilting is tricky, as leaving negative space in the quilting causes the fibers to remain loose in certain areas, which makes them puff up, cause puckering due to the nearness to densely quilted areas, and make the batting in these areas gradually bunch up (gravity at work).

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  2. Would be great with just straight line or cross hatch quilting because the texture would really show. Fun quilt experiment!

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  3. I like this concept. But yes, the quilting is a big question mark because the temptation to just put something down in one spot (lower right ?) means puffy everywhere else and for some reason puffy and art don't quite meet in my mind! :^)

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  4. Love it. My vote is simple straight lines - possibly matchstick.

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  5. Mmm... I love matchstick quilting like Felicity suggests above. Well, I love the idea of matchstick quilting. I've not gotten brave enough to commit to it on my own. I'm thinking you could keep the minimal vibe and add some artful quilting if you just selectively did matchstick. Perhaps fill in the left section of less white with vertical matchstick and then in the larger field of white, only do small sections of matchstick, either vertical, horizontal, or even a diagonal section here or there. Best wishes deciding on something you will love!

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  6. I have no suggestion for you but matchstick does not feel like minimalist at all :-) Looking forward to see what you'll come up with.

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  7. This is great -- have fun playing with the quilting lines and I'll be watching from over here in Winnipeg to see how it turns out.

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  8. Can't wait to see what you do with this. I know it will be just perfect!

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  9. I Agree with Vera in that matchstick does not feel minimalist at all. I am thinking straight lines or cross hatching but very spaced out, like minimum 2 - 3 inches apart.
    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

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  10. I think I'm going to like this. I reminds me of linen cloths - simple but stylish. I'm looking forward to seeing how you quilt it :)

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  11. One line of quilting from lower left to upper right. Love your idea, cant wait to see the reveal :)

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  12. At first, I though quilt lines from side to side but that is oppositional to your design and creates a kind of tension that does not read minimal to my eye.Maybe 6 or 7 vertical lines to the right and 2 or so to the left of the "color" strip? Use black or white or some of each? I wouldn't think minimalist style would include some of the OVER-quilting I have seen on some quilts where the result is barely thicker than two pieces of cloth covered with thread and puffy in other areas. If it were on my design wall, I would not even consider free-motion but get out the walking foot and make a few passes, maybe after opening the photo up in PAINT and experimenting with different very thin line looks. I can't wait to see what you do.

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  13. Cool! I`m of two minds on this. If you look at a Barcelona chair it is lush minimalist. Simple line but there is a Rubens feel to it because of the rounding that occurs where the chair is `quilted`. So you could do something like that as a stark contrast to the simple line. The other thing that struck me is that a lot of minimalist furniture has simple design but the punch comes from one curve repeated or a line at odds with everything else and again repeated. You could take a curve or an angle from the black line and repeat it at a lush interval. I agree with the others that matchstick won`t give you a minimalist feel on this one.

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  14. I think that with it so minimal that this is going to require matchstick quilting to balance the piece. Matchstick by definition is not minimal in itself but it becomes the fabric itself. I hope that makes sense?

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  15. If you don't quilt or tie it, it will, by definition, not be a quilt. As for what kind, or how much, quilting is minimalist, I think that's a decision you have to answer for yourself. There is no quilt police.

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  16. I would like to see big stitch quilting in white, in a chevron pattern that actually takes the chevron on both sides of the black , maybe with the points on the smaller white side! Clear as Mud???

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  17. Interesting exercise! I want to say that the quilting should either contrast the stripe or accentuate it but it should be minimal as well. Matchstick at an angle that crosses the stripe but not at 90 degrees?

    Regardless, it's your quilt and you should do what works for you. Traditional quilting could be the contrast that make it.

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  18. I'd probably do straight line quilting to the right of the black strip and a simple organic lengthwise design to the left. Of course, my best piece of advice would be to follow your instincts, they won't fail you.

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  19. Very cool! I've had a drawing similar to this with the proportions of racing stripes on a certain car I like for quite some time. I always thought I'd do vertical quilting lines at very regular intervals so they somewhat disappear. I'm sure you'll pick something awesome!

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  20. gorgeous!!!
    i also love the concept of matchstick quilting; that's immediately what i thought of. 1 - it's soooo you. and 2 - it's a single texture, so still very minimalist.

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