02 April 2008

The Next Step

**Note: This is long and rambly and most likely intensely boring for those of you who don't care about how I make my art quilts. My apologies in advance, I can blabber with the best of them. If you are interested, read on and join me in making odd little art quilts.

Here's the follow up post to The First Step post about how I design my art quilts. This is one of the pieces traveling with me to Open Studios next week. (Yup, you read it right. Next week. As in about six days away. Commence the I-must-finish-gathering-all-my-stuff freak out.)

So in the first post I talked about how I selected stuff to design quilts around. I had come up with a pile of stuff that struck my fancy at that time (admittedly I was pretty distracted by the fact that my digital camera was pitching a dying fit at the same time). Upon revisiting my junk (said with great affection), I pulled a few more items. This is one of them:

This is something I snatched up while at one of my art meetings. We meet at a scrapbook store and there are always tons of things to oogle each time. What's that you say? Paper doesn't belong on a quilt? Au contraire, my friend. These are not normal quilts. Its going on there.

What attracted my attention with this is the bold type. I liked the weathered look and I liked the tone of it. I really like using text on my quilts. (If you like words on quilts, go check out Jackie's work. Wowsers, she is the queen of text.) So it seems logical with this item that I would choose to focus on the letters from this piece.

Enter the letters:

I decided to concentrate on the B and the E. So I created a column above and below the paper tag, with the B's on top and the E's below. At this point, I've got the central embellishments finalized.

I will add more junk (said with great affection) to these but this is what everything else will be designed around. The next thing to do is select fabric. Which often results in me dumping my fabric boxes on the floor and creating a spectacular mess. As is my habit, I usually start with a dark background and go from there. Take a look:

I'm not real happy with the letters on the black background nor the paper tag. I also want to create more of a focal point for the 3d letters. You can see above the tag that I started looked at another color. So the auditions begin:

Some of these burn too bright against the black and others are too pale. So we now know what to do next: dump the black as a background.

Before you look at the next photo let me just say that I really really really tried not to use orange. Honest to God, I swear. But I'm helpless against it, that color just calls to me. (I know Sid knows my pain. Hey there purple girlfriend!) So here we are:

I did not like the way the letters looked against the orange. Most of them are silver or copper and they were loosing the battle against such an intense color. So I grabbed some darker fabric (are you surprised I put orange and purple together? I am, too. Hey you in the back? Quit snickering.) I also didn't like the way they looked against the black in the previous photos, the contrast was too sharp so the deeper purple is a logical choice. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.)

So with the fabric selected, there is only the task of putting the quilt sandwich together. I think of this more as creating a canvas because like I said before, these will not be the only 3d objects on the quilt. They are simply the anchor around which every other item and stitch will be placed.

Here's what it looks like after making the canvas:

I wish I could explain how I create the shape or texture on it after I'm done picking out fabrics but I can't. This is where personal taste and creativity come in. All I can say is that you can't think of these types of art quilts as what normally comes to mind when you hear the word quilt. They are fabric and stitching but they are very collage like and outside the norm. There are no log cabins or flying geese here. (Which I admire traditional quilting so I'm not knocking it, no hate mail.)

I've been asked many times to teach a class on how to make these art quilts and I've struggled with the idea of it. Sure, there is plenty I could explain to you. I could discuss embellishments/found objects that work well and ones that don't. I can talk to you about color selection and how to attach things and how to determine the size of your piece and how not to be afraid of glue. But I can't teach creativity. So that's where I usually hit a brick wall with the whole thing. So I guess I will put the class in the back of my mind for a while longer and see if it ferments into anything interesting.

So what I am left with now is the foundation for stitching and adding more embellishments. This involves a lot of staring. I'll lay other things across it, decide I'm nuts, and try again. I'll talk to myself and grumble and eventually find the threads and beads and little bits that look at home on the piece.

I've already packed up all the odds and ends so I'm not going to show those. But I do want to do another post showing how I attach things (embrace glue, that's all I have to say) and how I determine the size of the pieces and placements of things. There is lots to work through on each one of these.

Oh, and just for the record, this is the ONLY one out of the six that I put together that is orange and purple. I stood back and looked at all of them after I had laid them out together and one thought ran through my mind, "I look like I'm schizophrenic." Each one is extremely different, in color and in topic.

I used to get all angsty about the fact that I don't really work in a true series. But then I realized these types of quilts are a series in and of themselves. I've been told that its easy to identify my work so they are tied together by my stitching and habits. But I decided to just enjoy them for what they are and just do whatever feels right.

So that's my rambling for tonight. Whew. That's a lot of talking....oh don't worry, I'll be back.

1 comment:

Kim Hambric said...

Whew! I always enjoy learing about what did NOT make it into an artwork.