Saturday, April 28, 2012

Just Get It Done

I think I'm tired of playing with these pieces.  After my last post I did decide to go to nine squares.  Must be that early architectural training, but I feel more comfortable with a 3x3 organization than the 2x4 I showed last time.  I feel like I've learned all I can learn from playing with these same pieces.  Now I want to assemble it and be done.   I kept wanting it to be more intuitive and free, but that just looked like mishmash to me.  And other than the other students in the class, I couldn't find any examples of that type of work that helped me understand.   So I'm back to structure.  The filmstrips will go in, one on each orange square.  I will make five more blocks of that size from the other bits and pieces, they won't be identical because there are not ten of the other little units.  The concepts I will use to create them and to organize the final composition will be "mango" as furthest background, yellow vertical and horizontal strips as next ground.  Lime green lines reading both vertical and horizontal...

First instinct was to make all the yellow vertical and all the green horizontal like this:  

But it seemed too static.  Once my eye gets done connecting yellow bands, it's bored.  In the first version I think my eye stays moving around more.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Still Restructuring

I have not had any concentrated time to work on my current piece so I steal little bits of time whenever I can, before work, lunch, before bed.  For that reason it is nice to have my design wall smack in the middle of the living space.  I am always walking by it.  With the new basement studio it will be a bit more remote, and I will have to make more of an effort to go there.  I can't say the stolen time has let to much progress, I just keep looking at and trying different things.

In this one I finally cut and sewed that piece of striped fabric that I was so in love with in between the two large "mango" blocks.  As soon as  I saw it I hated it and pulled it back out.  The combined piece was too big and clunky.  How to organize the smaller strips is still eluding  me.

Here I started looking at how to make the little units start to connect to a bigger figure or ground by using colors that are already in them.  In photos the light and dark orange look almost the same, in reality they don't.  But it's still too much orange for me.

More playing.  Focusing on using three of the large blocks and creating three smaller ones.   I can't give up the filmstrips, but have not found a home for them yet. The black being the only black is not good.  There is some in the very dark strip I made, but not much.  And if the turquoise is going to come in, I need MORE turquoise..

So I started putting more and more "stuff" on the wall.  It got overwhelming and I pulled it all down again last night.  But now that I look back this composition actually seems to be going somewhere...  I like that the bright segments are balancing out the overabundance of pastels.  I just need to give them the right structure.

This is what it looked like last night when I decided to go back to using all four of the pastel units and lay things out more exactly,  looking for how to use the small units to make four others.  But I'm not loving the horizontal proportions.  Maybe I need to go to nine units.  But I need a bigger wall for that!

Monday, April 16, 2012


I spent a wonderful afternoon in LaConner yesterday.  Carol Taylor's talk about her work was riveting.  I am constantly surprised and  grateful when such leaders in the field are so willing to share, explain, and discuss their work, their inspiration and their techniques.  Maybe I'm surprised because architects rarely do this.  If you go to a lecture by a well-known architect you do get pictures of their work and what inspired it, and maybe some anecdotes about design along the way, but not the process that they go through to design.

So Carol showed some work from each of her series, and her design process, as well as some of the techniques she uses, fused applique that is then satin-stitched down, preparation of individual "confetti" pieces that are the building block for those quilts... and her current work that take uses leaf forms.

After the lecture, she led us on a tour of her work hanging in the museum.  There was a great selection from all of the series, and I took a zillion photos (with her permission).  I'm sure I will refer to them frequently when I am wondering,"How did she do that??"  As always, seeing the work in real life was SO much better than books...  I need to go to more shows!

Carol Taylor Arc-i-textures Workshop
Tomorrow is my full-day class on "Arc-i-textures."  I have selected a funky kimono silk in shades of olive green and sort of mango orange/pink  (Orange again??) to base my palette on.  Hope that's not a mistake!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I made steps toward another group of units I like.  I am so SLOW!  At the end of one of our critiques, Nancy asked, "Are you always so SLOW?"  and I replied this was fast, for me.  But it probably isn't improvisational if you study it on the wall for weeks before making a move!  But I'm not going to beat myself up over it.
I used this made fabric on the right

To make these units

I'm not sure yet how they will relate to the rest of the composition, but I'm pretty sure this is the orientation I want.  I really like the green line and also the secondary horizontal orange lines that are running behind them.

After these were done, I pulled out all of the extra fabric in this palette that I have left, in case I fall in love with an idea and have no more available to me.  One that I really love, the mauve-ish lavender, was a remnant from Jo Ann's.
I'm not sure about adding the prints anymore.  The seem to precious and fussy.  Except the lavender stripe between the orange blocks.  I love that.  But it requires me to stick those massive blocks together as a larger unit and I'm not sure I want that.   I still think the orange is overwhelming, and I am being way too fussy about making things matchy-matchy.  Studying classmates work, I see big chunks of relatively unrelated units, and that was appreciated and praised by students and instructor.  But searching the internet for other strip piecers,  Riley is the closest I find to this, but (except for "wrenches")she has a sort of "plaid" aesthetic going.

So should I feel happy I'm on my own path, or scared that my path is "wrong."  I don't want to be so headstrong that I don't learn from my teachers/mentors.  I'm probably way too young new and inexperienced to have the conceit that this is my "voice."

So I will keep looking and learning the best I can until the next class.  In other news, I am taking a class from Carol Taylor on Tuesday, and seeing a talk by her tomorrow.  The talk is titled, working in a series.  She was one of the very first quilt artists I discovered and fell in love with.  Her confetti series -especially Dispersion - took my breath away.

Dispersion, by Carol Taylor
The workshop is on "Architextures," which I don't love so much, but it's the only one of the classes she's teaching that worked for my schedule.  The others are Sensuous Lines and Curves, and Going in Circles.  From the way she is teaching her works as "workshop pieces" makes me feel like she's sold out, or is dumbing down her work to make it teachable.  I have picked up a few other negative comments about her recently, but I'm trying to stay open minded.

Sometime before Tuesday morning, I'm going to have to prepare fabrics and materials, so that is going to steal sewing time, which is already being lost by blogging, when I should be moving, painting, or gardening.  Sigh.

I joined SAQA yesterday.  They sent an e-mail talking about budget cutting, and I had always wanted to join anyway.  It seems inconsequential, but it's another big step toward calling myself an artist.  Now if only I was creating art!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I am continuing with the Ugly Unit Rehabilitation project.  I keep believing something good can come out of them...

I put together a whole seen in the previous post. Then decided it was too heavy, clunky, awkward, so I cut it back up into four criss-cross units with blocks on top and bottom of each, thinking to disperse them around with 3-4 other types of units.   I did a lot of sketches based on how I thought this could happen.  I have been studying Leslie Joan Riley a LOT.  I love her plaid pieces. But it was premature to start thinking about an overall composition without first having the proposed units MADE.  It's backward from my typical mental process.  Think it all out then build it.  But I get bored with that.  I DON'T get bored with designing on the wall, or on the fly.  I also spent a lot of time looking through all the photos I took of my classmates work at the workshop, and how some of the more experienced students produced walls full of units, without any thought on plan for how they would go together.  I am still learning from them.  But I still don't understand their design process for the full quilt.  I don't see a comprehensible overall strategy for how the pieces go together.  I've been searching the web for other Crow disciples to see how they work.  I have discovered the blog of Judy Kirpich, who just happened  to have her piece on the cover of the Quilt National '11 monograph. But she doesn't work in strip piecing.

So - back to my progress.  After cutting the big strip back up into four units, I played around on the wall even more, and decided that they needed a green line through them, as if it was going under the yellow section, and over the orange:
Like the dog food bowl ? Not a good place to drop fabric!
 So I tore off the tops and bottoms of each unit (8 pieces).  I'm still in the process of cutting each side of each of the 8 (so 16 pieces) in half (so 32 pieces) and then running a green strip (16 more pieces) through the left and right side of each, and sewing all 48 pieces back together.  But who's counting?  This helped me move forward with the composition, and I brought out a few more made fabrics from the workshop stash, that I though might balance the lights and darks.  But I was aching to go to the prints and see what I could find of interest.  I pulled four or five, and found four with potential.

I really like this gradated stripe between these units, if I end up pairing them that way.
The rest of the striped fabric looked  good - until I pinned it up - too much, too wide, too busy.

Not as sure about this one, but the various stripes in the Laurel Birch fabric seemed to tie the lighter and darker oranges together, and had some nice relationships to the strips with orange and aqua that I keep trying to use.

I also really liked this stripe, but not sure which way to combine it, with what, and how much.  

Polka dots are questionable but they worked with this purple and black strip.  

I ripped up the 45-degree miters I had made out of the purple/black/yellow strips (in the first photo) because I just couldn't adjust to putting in triangles in the strip piecing.  Either need lots more, or none at all.  I opted for none.  I am trying to sew them back together, because I want the colors and don't have any yellow left.  And I'm cheap.  But I suspect the 45 degree cuts won't pass muster either.  Still trying to think of a way to piece them into a unit as is...  

Anyway, that's the progress this week.