Three months away from the studio!!! What to pack?
Never mind what shoes and how many changes of undies – art materials were high on the list.
I love working with “found objects” so I decided to take a little bundle of somethings-to-stitch-onto: my favourite quilt batting and some pre-painted baby wipes
Thread is handy too. A little kit of many colours and a few needles:
Some objects which places gave me:I’m especially pleased with the red tangle. It’s waste agave silk from the braid-makers in Fes.
I couldn’t help myself and have bought a few items:
Reels of agave silk-which came in the most daunting array of colours-and some silk scraps from traditional weavers in Lyon.
After all this preparation, I’m sorry to say that I haven’t done a thing with it except mending some clothes. Which was very handy!
I’m learning that I need a more settled space to do composition. Or maybe I haven’t yet established a routine that allows for stitching. That might happen in Paris…
Today I’ve started the physical work of making four new quilts for my upcoming exhibition.
I begin with the colour idea and select from my scrap pieces baskets. I love those baskets- sometimes it seems I work more from them than from my big pieces of fabric. No matter how much I take out, they always seem to fill up again. A kind of quilter’s cornucopia. I think they began life as CD storage.
You can see the brown/black scraps basket on the ground in the foreground of the pinboard photo.
I’ve pinned the pieces to a big sheet of Styrofoam. One column for each quilt, graduating from light to dark so I can keep track of how much I have of each. I’ll compose each one separately, but at this stage it’s helpful to see the ingredients in relation to each other.
Can you guess the inspiration behind my four selections of fabrics?
I always press the fabric. Well, technically, I IRON it.
Official Quilting Advice always says to PRESS, which means the iron goes up & down without sliding across the fabric. For fear of distortion.
I’m far too lazy and impatient to conform to that. But i do iron gently with just a little steam. More a stroking of the fabric. Getting to know it. Teaching it who’s in charge. Pretty sure I can’t stretch The Baby metaphor to that!
In my last post I talked about re-setting my practice smaller after several all-consuming large projects. Here’s how I went about that:
Stopping- I took two, count ’em, two! days off any kind of seeing or even fabric fondling. It was weird.
Looking – I looked at Other People’s Art, in galleries and books. I looked at Nature. I looked at faces, including my own.
Learning – I went to an excellent 3-day textile art retreat with Cecile Whatman, of which more later.
Stocktaking – I sorted out all my in-progress works (fewer than I feared) and all my fabrics. That was exciting!
That all took place over a couple of weeks. With sufficient “think small” mindfulness, enough to break the automatic pattern of thinking large.
It seems to have worked. Since then I’ve started on two mid-size commissions, seen three small works hung in my first ‘art’ exhibition, of which even more later, and received the spark of inspiration for several small new works. Enjoying smaller scale for now.
It was a wonderful week with famous Australian artist Judy Hooworth, exploring line, form, colour, scale, repetition through small speedy works. I made about 10 textile things and many drawings. None of them “finished” in the presentation sense – because it was about “doing”, not about completing.
While I was there I used a design wall to mock up future works. Carefully pinned, they came home to New Zealand in my crammed suitcase. Here’s one: some rather ho-hum hand dyeing, pleated to increase the intensity of the colour.
I’ve been unpacking that metaphorical suitcase ever since, still finding goodies in it. All learning is worthwhile, though it may take time for the value to shine forth.
I wrote earlier about sorting and bundling fabrics to make a quilt kit. Like this one:
Unroll the bundle and spread the fabrics out, paying attention to the piece sizes and the proportion of lights to darks. Think about the feelings and ideas that the colours evoke. Make up a working title that refers to those feelings. I’m calling this Misty Garden for now.
Next step: Composition- how to arrange the fabrics