I mentioned last week that my third challenge quilt is a flop… Here are the gory details…
After Eucalyptus Extension 1 and 2 I wanted to play a bit more with the colours of the next quilt. There was some discussion on this post about background colour. Thank you so much for the well thought out responses I received to that post!
Choosing background fabric for my eucalyptus quilts has always been an issue. Earlier on I always used a range of sky blues. But after working on eucalyptus quilts for a could of year, I got a bit sick of all that blue. Nowadays a natural cotton linen blended is my go-to background fabric. Ellen is right though – varying the background colour could really liven up these quilts.
So I decided to pick something out of my comfort zone. I thought about brighter, prettier colours – lemon yellow, coral, pink – but really struggled to commit to those. So (here's where I made my big error) I chose a muted (as in, take a lovely red and add brown to it) 'pretty colour' as a safer option. Maroon.
And to break up the maroon I screenprinted a blossomy design on some of the pieces. And as I stitched it all together, I knew in my stomach that I was wasting my time. High school uniform memories came flooding back every time I sat at the machine:).
The other thing I wanted to try with this challenge quilt was to incorporate some blossoms added as an extra layer between some of the pieced sections. (I have a new machine which cut these out for me – more about that in another post). Because I really wasn't enjoying this quilt, I didn't go to too much effort to find the right colour for these, and it shows. I know better for next time (and I'll try to use felt next time, I think.
I know I mentioned earlier that I was wasting my time, but really, this was part of the learning and developing process. Neither of the previous two challenge quilts really excited me either, but working through and eliminating things that don't work is helping to bring me closer to new work that I love.
I guess that when I started this challenge, I expected to see gradual changes and steps towards a slightly new style of botanical art quilts. Instead they seem to be lurching all over the place. The great thing is that the disappointing result this time has really made me thing about what I do and don't want to see in these quilts.
Here's what I do want to see:
– hand-dyed fabric
– screen-printing (optional)
– artworks that capture something of the beauty of the plants
– artworks that have a contemporary feel to them
– neutral background
Here's what I do not want to see:
– artwork that has a 'cheap and nasty', or slapped-together feel to it
– maroon backgrounds
I spent some time putting together a mood board to help clarify the kind of feel I am after. I've referred a lot to botanical art in it. Check it out here. (One of my favourite high school assignments was making a herbarium from plants collected in the local bush). Now I've full of new ideas, and very excited to tackle the next challenge quilt!
For those of you who are newly visiting, this post is one in a series sharing the process of commissioning a custom textile portrait. I look forward to creating more custom portraits of children in the future, but to kickstart things, I asked for a ‘guinea pig’ to try out the process with me. Meta is my guinea pig. You can follow the whole process here.
We have a basic design for our textile portrait. We took one of the layouts that I presented to Meta and changed out one of the sketches in it, to better capture that child. Meta is happy with the layout. With three children captured in more 'serious' moments, or really, moments of concentration, and one shown having a laugh, Meta says this captures her four children well!
I was able to meet with Meta at her home, which was good for getting a feel for her decorating style. I might make it a future part of the homework package to include a photo or two of the family home or room for which the artwork is intended. The other purpose of the meeting was to confirm that Meta was happy with the overal design, and to note any potential areas of concern. One of the children's faces was looking at little 'heavy' in the sketch, so I made a note to lighten his brows a bit, either in colour, or by thinning the lines.
Now I have been entrusted with some of Meta's treasures to work into the quilt – snippets of special fabric from children's clothes, and stories written by the children during their early years at school. The children's writings will be stitched into the quilt later. It's good to have them already now, so that I can think about how best to incorporate them while I'm putting the quilt together. I asked for the snippets of fabric already now so that I can incorporate them into the colour plan.
The next step is to draw up a working pattern of the design, showing all the separate pieces of fabric, and to make the colour plan. Actually, the pattern is already drawn up – I was itching to do that after meeting with Meta on Friday. It's currently hanging in our living room, so that I can see it often during the day and be sure that I am happy with it before proceeding. I'll share it soon.
Oh, and Meta asked if it wasn't becoming a chore. Absolutely not! I am loving this process and the extra challenge of depicting and capturing someone else's children. And I can't wait to start stitching up this design.
I started cutting out a new quilt a week or so ago. I love the new design, but the thought of cutting out all those pieces was daunting. (You've probably heard me say it before – cutting out the quilt pieces is my least favourite part of the quiltmaking process).
Just making a very small step like this helps me to get my head into the task, and makes it so much easier to get going properly the next time I'm in the studio. Usually, once I've made the first baby step, I realise that doing the task is actually not going to be such a big deal. It just might take some time.
And here, a week and a half later, I find that the whole quilt is all cut out. Hooray!
Having a new quilt cut out and ready for piecing is like having a new novel by your favourite author. Do you get stuck straight into it, or just spend a big more time savouring the thought that it is there waiting for you? Because you know that once you start, real life might just get forgotten/ignored for a little while.
I'm afraid I won't be sharing the piecing process of this quilt (I look forward to sharing it here one day when it's completed). But I do have something else that I'll be sharing with you. Come back on Friday for my first ever blog giveaway. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'm hoping you will be too!
After hounding you with reminders about my ‘upcoming workshop‘ I know some of you are curious how it went.
Well, from my perspective it was a wonderful experience. I was rather nervous before hand. I liked the curriculum I had planned, but whether or not it would all work out in class remained to be seen.
Day one was intense. The workshop participants spent time drawing their chosen plant, designing a composition they were happy with, and then drawing up the composition into a manageable quilt pattern. I was exhausted at the end of this day, but completely over the moon that by the end of the day all five ladies had a quilt design completed that they (and I) were happy with. (This was the day I had been most nervous about).
Day two was spent selecting fabric and cutting out the little quilts. We spent some time making sure we had a good working system in place for this. Not quite as intense for me, but I think the ladies felt the challenge! They did super and almost all the quilts were cut out at the end of the day.
Day three posed a new challenge – learning how to put all those little pieces together again. Although this was rather daunting to start with, most of the participants had settled into a good rhythm for this by the end of the day.
After three intense days of teaching, I’m ready for something a little less stimulating this week. But I’m so happy that the whole workshop experience was so enjoyable. Thank you, ladies!
Now I’m looking forward to many more workshops over the years, the Lord willing!
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… pulled put some satay chicken and fragrant butter rice from the freezer for tonight's dinner (and cut up some cucumber for on the side)…
…prepared for tonight's Bible Study meeting (loving this series by Alistair Begg)…
…prepare for my upcoming workshop (aided by a cup of coffee, of course)…
…cuddled the baby who refused to settle (all the way through my scheduled sewing time)…
…sourced quilt backing fabric for a song at Spotlight (30% off when you finish the roll – includes already discounted fabrics)…
…admired chunky baby knees (and wondered how to keep that big baby tummy covered)…
…enjoyed a rare 'just because i like it' patchwork fabric purchase (a large pack of 'architextures' fat quarters)…
…watched the baby laugh uncontrollably at some silly big-brother-antic (over and over)…
I hope you had a good day, too!