Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Quilts in the Wild: Exploration of a Hashtag

The very fact you're reading this blog post means you know a quilt sandwich from a ham sandwich. An interest in quilting and access to the internet will have probably lead you to Instagram or Facebook where the popular #quiltsinthewild or #quiltsinthegarden can be found.
Quilts have been around as long as people could sew fabric in layers for extra warmth. They have comforted us for centuries and are more synonymous with cosy fire sides and guest beds rather than rocks and forests. Surely this makes the quilt a domestic animal?

So why #quiltsinthewild? The earliest I used this hashtag was January with a quilt I had made for my sister, I held it up in my garden for my husband to dutifully capture, but I was by no means an innovator of this term. Inspired by some of the quilters in the US I was riding the crest of a wave that had started in 2013 with a seemingly random post. A year later Jaybirdquilts posted an actual quilt in the wild or at least outside and not on a bed.by November 2014 we were starting to see quilts held up with snow around and mountains forming a magnificent backdrop.

A Beautiful Contrast?

Is this the same as the Sunday Supplement fashion magazines showing a Supermodel in a supermarket or a grubby stairwell? After all these sort of 'fish out of water' images are used by high end fashion photographers all the time.

The Kardashian sisters were lambasted (and celebrated in equal measures) by the media for appearing in skimpy bikinis and posing in the snow. Are our show-off quilts the fabric equivalent? Here in the East of the UK we had heavy snowfall in March 2018 (when the Beast from the East came over from Russia) and for this avid quilter it was an excuse to get some wonderful contrast shots...who could resist a 'cosy' quilt viewed with a foreground of icicles? Or in a homemade igloo (certainly not me!!  All of these shots can be found on www.instagram.com/finecityquilting

#quiltsinthewild - A Practicality?

So far we've concentrated on the whimsy of a quilt being an entity that could be even considered to have domestic or wild habitats - what then could realistically lead to this hashtag becoming one of the more fun quilting hashtags to follow on Instagram?
Lighting is the first practicality of taking a quilt outside, you can't really beat natural light.  Some of my funniest moments as a Quilter who uses the medium of Social Media often are the moments in the depths of Winter where the sun has come out enough on to wet grass and I've ran out with a plastic bag and grabbed a quick picture of some EPP I'm working on.  I like to think these little moments of silliness make other quilters smile - they probably make my neighbours laugh!
Secondly the space..to get far enough back that you can photograph your whole quilt is not something we can all do in our homes and who wants to get the kid's toys out of the way or make sure there's no underwear on the floor in the background!  The outdoors suddenly feels like the sensible option.

Social Media...Expectation V. Reality

Could it be simply that our interiors are not what we consider 'gram-able', i.e not good enough for the 'gram (instagram)? Not fitting in with the social media expectation of perfection?

I was lucky enough to spend a gorgeous week with my husband and children in Interlaken, Switzerland last summer. There was a small pontoon which people queued to sit on in order to get their friends to take a photo of them sitting alone at the end of, as if captured having been captured having a private moment in such serenity. The reality versus how it was being represented on social media was hilarious. Also funny was how you could really have it to yourself at 7am (trust me, camping with two young children you tend to experience most of a holiday from very early).
Is this what we are doing with our quilts, bowing to other's expectations of perfection?

            Expectation                           V.                                     Reality

#quiltsinthewild: A Gallery

A final consideration is that Quilters are Artists...we may not always have a white wall to hang our quilts against or the money or backing to hold or enter a show.
One thing nearly all of us have is a phone and access to the internet and that has lead to us realising that the one thing we all have in one way or another is the great outdoors. I've seen quilts on beaches, quilts on rocks, quilts in forests, quilts draped over lifesaving towers, bridges. City quilts, country quilts. Long suffering partners being wind whipped by flailing quilts.
The hashtags #quiltsinthewild and #quiltsinthegarden gives us all the opportunity to be curators in our own galleries, to exhibit on social media platforms that we are able to share with anyone who's interested.

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