This documents my first use of a design wall to plan a quilt. And what a complete change of process- I had no idea the change would be so immediate, and… so demanding.The process felt like an immediate plunge into cold water- initially terrifying and then invigorating. My first creative block- a HUGE and somewhat irrational fear of cutting fabric to begin composing the quilt design.
I had no idea that the idea of only cutting when you know the cut is right, and that you are saving the most fabric had been so deeply trained into me. I really struggled to let go of the fear of cutting fabric WITHOUT knowing that the cut would be right the first time. Would I be wasting all my fabric?! Getting past this block took some courage.
Then, an instant and total change in the design process- MUCH more painterly, cerebral. I found myself having to become very still to focus, take in the dynamics of each design, and then consider so slowly the dynamics of a possible change. It was exhilarating! It was exhausting!
Here is a quote from Nancy Crow, leading artist and quilter, discussing her studio process. “I love being inside my brain and pushing myself to think in ever more complex ways because I know the ideas are there for the taking.” Nancy Crow works in an especially intuitive design method. I think this quote gives me a hint to what will be demanded from me with this path. I will have to develop the skill of thinking in complex ways about a composition under design… and I will have to take it on faith at the moment that the ideas are there for the taking!
After three attempts to get the saturated color I wanted for my last experiment, which was a bright pink-red, I tried again. This time, the color was deeper and far more dramatic.
I used just under a cup of sodium carbonate, dissolved it in about a gallon of water, and soaked the 2 yards of cotton fabric in it for several hours. Here’s where I changed my method:
I placed the fabric, carefully bunched to produce a mottled effect, into an aluminum tray (a turkey roasting pan). I dissolved the procion dye with a small amount of water, and again poured it through a strainer several times from container to container. I used about three or four teaspoons of navy blue. At this point, I mixed it with some of the reserved soda carbonate water to form my dyebath, and poured it over my fabric. I did the same with a mixture of navy and green procion dye, and poured that over as well. The dyebath covered the fabric abut three quarters up, with peaks emerging from the dyebath. I covered the whole thing with plastic and let it sit for hours.
Cotton in blue dyebath
So as I continue my cotton dyeing adventure form my post several days ago, I found that the color and texture of the surface worked reasonably well. The sharp fold left in the fabric from the bolt worked to mirror the texture I put there with the crinkling in the dyepot, creating a sort of “inkblot” effect. The marbling or mottled texture was what I had hoped for, and I think it was so effective only because of the length of time left in the dyepot ( about 10 hours).
The hue turned out a bit cooler than I had hoped, so I decided to mix another dyebath with just red this time, and try to overdye it.
New project: pieced silk quilt! This will be my first pieced silk quilt, a new and challenging experiment for me. I am following the design plan of Mod Quilting, created by Sherri at Daintytime, a fabulous artist who created this method. I will be attempting to link her information to my blog for reference. She has been a major inspiration since I discovered her blog about four months ago. She has provided some major creative fuel for me- thank you Sherri!
The idea behind Sherri’s quilting method for this is that it is improvisational. Being hungry for a more intuitive approach to textile work, I have responded to it with a flood of creativity- but it has been even more challenging than I have anticipated. My limits on this project:
1. I complete it!
2. I use fabrics from my scrap pile- all ready to go and previously hand dyed by me.
3. All fabrics will be silk.
4. Quilt top will use the Mod Method, as created by Sherri.
This quilt top actually began life as a more tentative, strip pieced plan that I was using as a “warm up” to then do a mod quilt. When I lost steam and inspiration about one day into it, I realized that I simply wanted to go right into the Mod Method, and changed gears. Instantly I felt invigorated and inspired.
The strips I had pieced became what Sherri begins with, the wedges. Because mine were already pieces, the effect is more choppy and disjointed, with small individual squares making up my wedges. So my first big challenge to overcome is the overall color disharmony that the “birth process” of this quilt has brought into being. However, I am committed to my rule number one- complete this quilt!
My attempt to lend some harmony to this is to try to use mostly blues and greens in the areas around the long tracks created by the wedges. The process of the “background” will be the subject of my next post…
silk quilt in processSilk quilt wedge being basted in placeSilk quilt top in process
Sketching seems to bring out some good energy in my work. I am hoping to keep that energy all the way through to the completed painting. My brown dry brush lines seem loose enough, and the gutta lines are working with the drawing so far. Still, things change fast when I begin to add color!
Drawing from life, I find more inspiration, and a healthy dose of humility. My skills are not as polished as I would like! Still, I find that it fuels my creativity. I have three paintings going at the moment based on this sketch- and in one of them I have begun to incorporate embroidery stitching for the first time. Here’s the sketch…