Orlando MQG Improv Bee

Updated: Sep 13, 2018

Ever since I got back into quilting, I always wanted to try a bee. This is where a group of quilters each take turns leading the group with an idea, and all the members of the group make a block, or a part of the quilt, for the leader. In particular, I wanted to try an Improv bee because I've been so inspired by the online Bee Sewcial group. Improv piecing is a method in which a quilter doesn't use a pattern or a set design. Kind of like in acting, or in music, usually some parameters are defined, and then you just get on stage and feed off of what's happening. Except it's usually a solitary exercise, so the thing you're feeding off of are your prior decisions and your ever-changing vision of what the end goal will be. Cheryl Arkinson wrote a great definition of this if you want to dig in further: http://www.cherylarkison.com/diningroomempire/2015/10/what-really-counts-as-improv-quilting.html

So when the Guild gave me the chance to lead a bee I knew what I wanted to do - thus, The Orlando MQG Improv Bee.

When it was my month to lead a subgroup (hive), I gave this as my prompt: Black and white contrast with with black as the negative space, like the pictures above. Fabrics were to be solids or tone on tone. The block didn't need to represent literal forms, it could be totally abstract.  They could be minimal, maximal, or anywhere in between. I also gave a Pinterest board of inspirational photos: https://www.pinterest.com/cera979/black-and-white/

And here are the results! Nine different interpretations of that prompt from my hive mates (including my own). Two of them are inspired by those B&W photos I took above.

Here's some more results from other leaders' prompts (my submissions):

Prompts clockwise from top left: A trip to Japan, browns and blacks, an abstract concert backdrop, Charleston doors

Why is this all so important to me, you wonder? Glad you asked.

1) There was a demand among the Guild to practice improv piecing.

2) What better way than a regular, set challenge each month to stretch one's vision?

3) When I followed along with Bee Sewcial, I learned a a lot about my practice and I got so many great starts to bigger projects. I wanted this for our Guildies too.

For example, that waterfall-looking block was inspired by Minor White's photo "Watkin's Glen". I love the small one so much I want to make another, bigger version. Never would have got that without this type of challenge.

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