Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bouncing Around

I couldn't seem to make up  my mind what I wanted to work on today.  I spent the morning cleaning upstairs, and got a whole lot of crap out of my library/office/dumping ground.  It almost looks as though it could be used for a small art studio now.  Of course the crap is now in the living room instead, but that's only because it's on the way to the used bookstore, resale shop, or Goodwill.  

Then I promised myself the afternoon free to quilt.  But what??   Straightening up piles of fabric, I found a quilt block pattern that I had agreed to make for the "President's Quilt."  She loves thirties/retro fabric (which seems pretty common.  Why is it of all the eras of quilt-making everyone seems focused on either Civil War or Thirties?  But I digress.) 

 So I made the block.  I hope this is 30's enough.  I'm not sure where this came from, but the only other 30's I have is what I used for the last (only) friendship block I made - coincidentally, for the same person. 

Then I decided to tear into the striped shirts.  I cut one sleeve off the least attractive one, and cut out a six and a half inch square, then cut the square into quarter-square triangles.  I discovered that you can't make a nice square block out of one block, you need two, cut exactly the same place in the pattern repeat.  I prefer to just try things and see if they work, rather than actually thinking sometimes.  

Craftsmanship is not my strong point.  This was a really stretchy loosely woven cotton, so I'm surprised the didn't turn out worse, actually.  I still don't know where this is going - pillows, quilt, art...  ?

Next I decided to pull apart the City Hall quilt and "finish" it properly.  I did some free motion quilting on the sky, which turned out okay, then got bogged down in trying to quilt the stone pattern... four stitches, stop, raise foot, rotate, four stitches, stop, raise foot, rotate.   Blocks are boring!  Right in the middle of all that, I decided, if I'm going to do  FFFC challenge #56 I have to do it NOW.  So I did.  

The challenge was to study the work of Andy Goldsworthy.  Many of the works he does are made out of leaves, branches, rocks, flowers... some of them last only as long as the wind doesn't blow...  So I decided that I would use natural materials in a quilt.  I wandered out into the yard to see what was there, and first went for some fuzzy stachys (lamb's ears), and then beside them, some copper fennel, a complete color contrast.  Moved on to the front yard where grape hyacinth is in full swing.  So I grabbed a handful of each and went back to the sewing machine.  Suddenly there was a huge sense of urgency to execute and photograph a piece before the plants wilted or disintegrated.  Must be just how Goldsworthy felt when his leaves were swirling around in the water.   Before I'd even gotten back to the work area I knew the two fabrics I wanted to use.  (Because I've been re-folding and fondling all my fabrics they were fresh in my mind).

Here are some process shots:
So far so good...

Getting the whole assembly under the machine without breaking stems became problematic at this point.

The final row went on with the help of the extension table, and  my biggest ruler

Turning it over to trim the stems was a mistake!
The process was a lot of fun, anyway.  The limited time frame made me work harder.  (I seem to work best with deadlines hovering).    The difficulty of working with the plants distracted me from being able to think about the composition - In my mind there was more space between the plants, and a more rhythmic or patterned layout. (This was another element of the challenge).  So here's the final result:

I like the color and materials, I'm really pleased with the way the branch-y motif in the dark fabric echoes the featheryness of the fennel, and the beige/green colors of the spotted batik really echo the stachys.  I didn't notice until I looked at the photograph, that there is a deep purple element in the brown fabric.  Serendipity.

If I were to do it again, I'd use only a few plants and feature the fabric more. But it was fun.  Outside the box, for sure!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sharon,

    WOW! Love the contrasts of the materials and your choice of fabric to compliment nature. Your composition is outstanding.

    Thanks for stopping and commenting on my blog. It is a joy to see your art quilts.

    Isn't Andy's work phenomenal?!?!?