Artisans are that special breed of person who can take something that is entirely functional and turn it into something that is just as lovely to use as it is helpful. When it comes to turning function into art quilts are an outstanding example of blending the two goals.
It may have been boredom that got that first quilter to embellish a work in progress with extra touches that turned mundane bed coverings into art quilts. After all, quilting is tedious work and creative minds wander. They need artistic stimulation. What better release for some creative energies than the quilts at hand?
It might have been competition that took art quilts to the next level. If one quilter is making very nicely functional quilts that keep everybody as snug as that proverbial bug in a rug but sees the next quilter, also making warm quilts, but doing it with a style and flair that brings praise and recognition, it’s easy to see how the trend for making quilts pretty as well as functional began.
What is considered art quilts today may not have had the purely artistic behind them when they were first made. Quilts often have stories sewn right into them. Personal histories, family trees, local lore and legend, the Bible, and historical events are popular subjects for quilts, especially for those made before reading became an acceptable practice for men and women of all races.
Art quilts have become so popular that there are names that define the type of art displayed. Crazy quilts are the epitome of art on a quilt. To make them, there are no rules to follow, no specific stitches to include, no colors that must be used or avoided, no restrictions on pattern, design, or materials to incorporate.
As with so many of the other arts, art quilts fall into special categories that more closely define them. Appliquéd, trapunto, yo-yo, Shaker, Amish, and Sunbonnet Sue are all styles of quilts that represent certain elements of design but each category allows plenty of room for the artistic eye of the maker.