06 Aug

An Attempt

It’s quiet today and I’m having a hard time getting motivated even though I have a million things, both dull and exciting, that I could be working on. The kids are back in school and now, on my second morning with no one else in the house I’m feeling a lot more like curling up with a book or the cat than diving into a project.

I have been slowly working on a few things. Too slowly, but that’s beside the point. One of the “things” is a series of wall quilts dealing with being an Army Spouse. I’ve been trying lots of ideas and techniques. Some are speaking to me, some are not. I think that it is important to try new techniques and media, or test out concept and compositional ideas, but to do it without the expectation that what you produce will be the finished product. Maybe it will, but maybe it won’t — maybe that technique wasn’t the right one for the message after all, or maybe it’s got potential but needs some tweaking or combining with another idea before it’s just right.

The Begining

For this particular idea, I layered fabrics that had meaning to me and stitched a nice swirly pattern of channels over them.

The Process

I slit the channels at different depths with a chenille cutter and also scissors.

The Remains

And finally, I cut away more to reveal more or less of the different layers. This pile is what I cut away.

The finished product has potential, but this, my first attempt, was too shallow. I’ll undoubtedly apply this chenille technique to another go, but the fabrics themselves will have to have less obtuse meaning for the viewer. It was worth the essay though as an important step along the path.

As more and more craft and quilting bloggers share their process, I think it is important to see that not all projects turn out perfect the first time and not all attempts are worth trying to save. This one will be shoved under the bed for now, having served it’s purpose, and the next one I make will be all the better for that.

03 Jun

My Process

I may not have found my artistic voice, or style yet, but I’m definitely settling in to a process.

Momentum seems to have a lot to do with it. I get an idea and then I have to jump right into it. Or, if I can’t do that, I write it in my sketchbook, make dinner, collect bits, mull it over, procrastinate a lot, get side tracked, and do myriad other things that lack discernible forward movement. It’s all good though, because this slow percolating time helps me refine what it is I’m going to create.

Then, when the mood hits and the planets align, I get down to work. The hardest part is that this is when the momentum really kicks in and once I’m elbow-deep in paints or dye, or firmly planted in front of the sewing machine, I don’t want to stop. More frozen pizza nights than I want to admit to are the direct result of sewing “just one more row,” “I’m almost to a stopping point,” or my favorite, “I’ll be right there,” which really means I’m standing in front of my design wall contemplating the next move.

Knowing that I work in these fits and spurts helps me to get the most out of them, such as grouping like tasks together, or making sure there’s plenty of pizza in the freezer. Another aspect of my process is to gather bits so that when I do get inspired, I can access the bits akin to a painter choosing paint from blobs on her palette (a great analogy I adopted from artist Gerry Chase in her workshop).

One day I’ll be immersed in sun printing, and try out multiple colors and sizes of motifs. Painting and stamping are the same. If I dye fabric, I’ll throw in some extra pieces, or maybe some yarn or lace. Another day I’ll be piecing, and I’ll sort scraps by color, or set aside cut-off strips, squares or triangles that could come in handy in another project. Now, I take crochet yarn to the kids’ TaeKwonDo and hook roots while I wait. I need to have several things going at once so that I can choose one aspect and roll with it for a while, not breaking my momentum to create a single project start to finish, but rather to focus on a day to paint, or to sit at the machine, to crochet or embroider, until I have enough pieces to sort through them to create the composition I’m looking for.

The last two photos are details of quilted, embroidered, fabric and thread collages mounted on or sewn to stretched canvases — similar to Cloud House. There will definitely be more.