August 8, 2015

Work and Play

Working on pieces like "Accident" is just that--work.  These deeply personal pieces are challenging and difficult, both in the conceptual/emotional process that leads to a design and in the construction of the quilt.  For most of these works, the thinking process takes years--how best to convey my idea in the design?  The construction is quicker, but still, it takes months to figure out how to construct the design that I've come up with and then to complete it.  This kind of work is satisfying, especially in those moments when I hit on a design that I can say yes to, and when a construction technique I've come up with or tried out works just as I'd hoped--or leads me to a new solution.  But it is not fun.  I have to push myself to keep at it.  Break it into small chunks that I can handle.  It helps to have something on hand that I can play with when I take a break from the big work.  I just have to be careful not to get sidetracked into making the play an occasion of procrastination from the work.  With "Accident," there are stretches of time where waiting is built into the process, so that gives me a chance to play freely for a while.  Here's what I've been doing with my playtime recently: the photo below shows the first four rows of the center section of the pattern "Walk in the Park," by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle:

Here's a photo of their pattern, published in American Patchwork and Quilting, June 2015:

I've had a collection of Kaffe Fassett striped shot cottons on hand for over ten years, and I'd been keeping my eye out for possible ways to use them.  About six months ago, I decided to make hourglass blocks from them, and when at a four-day quilting retreat in March, I made several dozen blocks, all with two fabrics in each block, sometimes a solid and a stripe, sometimes two different stripes.

I liked the blocks individually, but couldn't come up with an arrangement that I liked, whether a mixture as above, all solid/stripe blocks, or all stripe/stripe blocks.  I set aside the project.  Then, about a month later, I saw the Kerr/Ringle pattern and I knew that would be a great solution--have the hourglass blocks be all stripes, but break them up and border them with a solid.  Also, the pattern suggests four different fabrics in each hourglass, so I decided to try that also.  The photo below shows a few rows with four different striped fabrics in each hourglass (top) and a few rows with two different fabrics (bottom).  I decided I preferred the version with 4 different fabrics.

Although the blocks are shown above with solid blue, my first thought was to use green.  I had a sample of the apple green on the right below, and I thought this would be a good use for it.  I do like how that looks, but it was more contrast than I wanted for this particular piece, so I added some blue to the formula for dyeing the fabric and came up with the fabric on the left.  
 I liked the feel of this combination better, and was going to go with it, but in the end realized that I just didn't like that color green very much, and decided to try a blue instead.  I tested out five different values of a premixed indigo blue color, and tried out the blocks.

I chose a medium value, and am happy with the choice.  Here's a photo with a large piece of the blue underneath the rows I've completed.  (In the final piece, the solid will be on the sides, as in the published pattern.)

Well, as you can see, there's a lot of thought and decision-making that goes into even following someone else's pattern!  But now I'm at the stage of just sewing together block after block, just what I need for the occasional break from "Accident."

Side note for those interested in Photoshop Elements:  My six-week class with the Pixeladies is now over, and I'm trying to find occasions to practice what I learned so I don't forget it all.  I used it for two of the photos in this post:  In the photo of the pattern, I typed the pattern information onto the photo, and backed it with a non-opaque rectangle so that the words would show up better.  The photo of the two green fabrics side by side was created by putting two photos together into one new file.  I do highly recommend their classes.  They plan to do a revamp of their Fabric Design class in winter 2016, which I'm looking forward to.

1 comment:

  1. I think this pattern (with the solid squares on 2 of the 4 sides of each patterned square) really allows the viewer to focus on the lovely fabric combinations in each of the patterned squares. And the medium value blue doesn't overwhelm the colors of the patterns, which I think is what happened with the darkest value blue. Good choice!

    By the way, the pattern as published by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle, reminds me of a kaleidoscope with its solid light-colored squares. When my eyes move up & down the vertical stripe, it feels to me as if that part is moving!