Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: The Quilts of Gee's Bend

The Quilts of Gee’s Bend is one book I turn to regularly, partly because my creative roots are in fiber, paper and fabric and those art forms still resonate for me, but also because I find it to be full of inspiration that translates to many forms of art and design.

When I look at the Gee’s Bend quilts, I learn about color. I learn about symmetry and asymmetry. I learn about looking to traditional design as a source of inspiration for creating something new. I learn about seeing pattern in the world around you and interpreting it in your art. I learn about how to create something beautiful and artistic with only the materials on hand. I learn about the impact of keeping it simple.

Recently I had a customer, a beginning jewelry artist and designer, ask how she could prevent tiny marks on the jump rings when she manipulated them. After providing a few tips, I also shared my belief that “…it is also OK to have some slight marks sometimes - it is a sign of the presence of you, the artist and designer, in the piece”. The prominence of the hand quilting in the design of many of the Gee’s Bend quilts allows me to see and feel the presence of the artists and continues to guide my approach to handmade jewelry design.

I was fortunate to see many of the Gees Bend quilts in person at the Tacoma Art Museum several years ago and I can say for sure that the experience of seeing these quilts in the flesh surpasses anything that can be presented in a 2 dimensional form. That said, the Quilts of Gee’s Bend is one book I turn to over and over again, as an endless source of design inspiration, and a touchstone to remind me of my path in handmade art and craft.

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