The first blog post shows up on September 4, 2007, outlining an invitation to participate in a challenge where a theme is explored and then revealed in a small quilt every two months. Diane Perin Hock, the brainchild behind this exercise, invited other women whom she had been following or gotten to know via their blogs. Quilt challenges are nothing new: many online groups and quilt guilds use this exercise to encourage participants to push their normal boundaries by exploring themes or concepts they might not normally work on. In fact, challenges are often incorporated into quilt shows around the United States, issued by the large companies that might sponsor the show (fabric, thread, batting, and other supply companies). The new thing here is that these twelve women documented their process beautifully and stuck with it for several years, creating a fascinating record of their thoughts, techniques, and growing affection for each other.
The above quilt is Terri Stegmiller's quilt for their Community theme, her tribute to their group. Several of the participants have never met each other as they live in distant places: eight spread around in the United States, two in Australia, one in the United Kingdom and one in Belgium. As the challenge progressed, the process of exploring their themes, challenges and thoughts, fused their group into a deep bond, so much so that they refer to themselves as a "twelve". "When I became a twelve....", "As a Twelve, I think....", and similar statements are peppered throughout the book.
Each Twelve selected one theme and challenged the others to interpret it. Some evoked obvious images while others focused on broad concepts: Dandelion, Chocolate, Community, Water, Illumination, Shelter, Mathematics, Chairs, Window, Identity, Passion, Twelve. They used their blog to brainstorm about what these words could mean, what images they could refer to, posting pictures, sharing stories, and bandying back and forth ideas that could inform their pieces. Then they went to work. One of things I really enjoyed about this group was not only their geographic diversity, but also their differences in age and experience. Some have had extensive experience in the fiber art world while others are still kind of wet behind the ears. Their techniques and life experiences are very different from each other. All of this led to a wide range of interpretations. Their exchanges also led each Twelve to experiment in new ways. And, because of the blog and of working on the book, their introspection on their growth changed over time, informing new work in a fresh way.
Here are some of my favorites, which also illustrate the range of interpretation of the themes and of techniques used:
|Passion & Pain by Terry|
|Chairs by Helen|
|Pop Art Identity by Gerrie|
|Seven Houses Five Trees by Deborah|
|12 Months by Kristin|
|Twelve Women by Karen|