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I posted on the Facebook group Art Quilts asking for advice on starting a group. Here are the responses I got. The ellipses (…) are where I pruned. Square brackets are my greatly shortened paraphrasing.
There’s lots of pearls in here; even one from a group which folded. I was tempted to start commenting on them here; but I’ll save that for our first in person gathering so I don’t bias your musings.
Diana Van Hise: [wants to explore] painsticks, inktense pencils, etc.
Susan Fletcher King:…start small… start by doing some small challenges that would still be broad enough that each person could continue in their own style. In addition, you would be able to use this group for good honest critiques. Perhaps play days to try new techniques or things that each member is willing to share? …..
Diana Ferguson: [at our] art bee within the regular guild … We share techniques, info on shows, and do group projects…
Katie Winter: I just started an art quilting bee as a subset of our guild. …my motive for starting an art quilting bee is rather selfish–I need motivation and focus to do the kind of fiber art work I want to do. … I decided to just toss the whole endeavor to “fate,” and let the bee be whatever it was going to be–knowing that it will evolve and develop its own personality. And it turns out that everyone in my bee seems to have SOME special art training, knowledge or skills to share (and a few members are still new to quilt making–but filled with fresh ideas and eager to learn). Nobody had a body of art work to share that first night (because we’re just getting started), but I think it will be great fun to witness and celebrate everyone’s growth–especially (and selfishly) my own! …
Kathryn Jones Kaser-Nichols: We have a group called VisTA, for Visionary Textile Arts. … The only “rule” is kindness: be supportive, give gentle suggestions when asked for. …. We go around the table with show and tell, even if it is just about your latest trip. Every year we have a challenge to be completed by the local guild’s big show in March. One person takes notes, prints them up with the names/authors of books/mags brought, links to websites, etc. and emails them to the group so we don’t all have to take notes. Sometimes photos are included.
Brenda Wood: Reddy Arts Textile Group
This is the blog of our wonderful little group here in Brisbane. My advice – start the group small, you will find that some people have some wonderful talents that’s are hidden with traditional quilting. We are a sharing group, if we find a technique, then we have a play day, share the knowledge, have show and tell, do swaps and challenges etc. we share our books around, and sometimes just have a fat quarter swap, if you keep it small, it doesn’t get too full of “meeting” stuff, and the quality of your art work will increase for future exhibitions. You’ve given me an idea! I might even do a blog post about what challenges we have done!
Sally Spencer Neckvatal: I tried starting a small art quilt study group a few years ago when several people in my very traditional local guild said they would like to learn what I do. I found a wonderful book by Lorraine Torrence, Design Essentials, on quilt design where a small group has assignments that everyone participates in and then the group evaluates and offers constructive criticism as a vehicle for growth. It us an excellent book and lesson plan. Unfortunately everyone had a different idea on when and where to meet, and it fell apart. I had also asked that all participants, which I limited to 7, needed to commit to all the assignments in time. OK, that was expecting too much, perhaps, but only because I feel they were not fully committed.
Sandra Wagner: We have a group of 5 art quilters from the big group and it is wonderful and sooooo much fun. Did a mini-retreat this year – we had a great time. Our group meets every other month at members homes and the hostess suggests a challenge that is something that we have not done or approached yet, if we get too involved in it we take a month off and discuss why this is happening. We share, are kind while we offer suggestions, in Feb we have hired a teacher in how to use the Japanese inks in our work. When we started we discussed what we wanted out of the group – it got bogged down after about a year and a half so we went back to what we wanted from this group.
Kathy Klaer Hammond: We of Artistic Vision
Our group has no real rules or leaders (but one quilter does contact people and keep the meetings on track). This group is so amazing that I do not mind the three and a half hour drive to get there. I don’t believe that artists respond to rules, but do work well and inspire each other when there is a lot of respect for each other and a general understanding of goals of the group. .
Years ago, Linda Greene introduced us to Spoonflower by handing out little welcome packs at guild, but the whole thing seemed way “out there” to me at the time. It took my hip daughter Elizabeth to kick me into gear this year.
In honor of my niece’s wedding, Elizabeth found this great project online: How to Turn Handwritten Recipes into Tea Towels. I couldn’t improve on the instructions in that blog if I tried, so I’ll just give you a précis… Scan in 3×5 recipe cards and arrange them in a JPG sizing the result to 36”x54”. Then order 1 yard of that design in Linen-Cotton Canvas. When it comes, cut them apart & hem.
The entire time I was working on the towels not-exactly-yardage projects popped into my head. The Linen-Cotton Canvas would be a fabulous customized chef’s apron with a collage of personal memorabilia. You could design your own “panel” for a round robin center. You could arrange perfect wedges of a floral closeup to build your own kaleidoscope or stack-n-whack. The result would be much better ink and larger formats than our inkjet printers, easier, not particularly expensive considering the costs of inkjet cartridges and fabric for printing. You could even design custom quilt labels and order just a $5 swatch by positioning your swatch correctly on your design.
Want to get started?
- Create a Spoonflower account –free.
- Make your design using photo software of your choice. DPI (dots per inch) is important – Spoonflower likes 150. You’ll find lots of advice & tips in the FAQs.
- Upload your design to Spoonflower – free.
- Order a $5 swatch (8”x8”) to test your colors, fabric, and image quality.
- Order the fabric. The price depends on what fabric you order. Kona Cotton quilting weight is $16.50 for 42×36, and the Linen-Cotton Canvas is $24.30 for 54×36. Here’s the whole list: Products & Pricing