In 2018, one of my goals was to work much larger than I have done in the past. It’s been a very interesting journey.
Working large doesn’t just mean making bigger quilts–it also means adjusting my style and my method of design.
In the past, I’ve started with a color plan, pulled out fabrics that spoke to that plan, and created units fairly independently of each other to put together into a final composition. A good example of this process is Jumping for Joy, below. I decided I wanted to use lots of brights to make the composition really pop, so I made the blocks independently of each other and then arranged them into a pleasing composition on the design wall. You can read about that process here.
My new larger pieces are designed differently. I cut the shapes freehand with my rotary cutter, then all the lines and shapes are defined before any sewing is done. It’s still designed improvisationally, just in a slightly different way. You can see this process in the design of Confetti below. The whole process, plus an image of the finished quilt, is described in this post.
One of the things that intrigues me most about improvisational design is the fact that I have to be in a constant dialogue with my materials. Each decision about color, line, and shape influences the next, and I often end up with something very different from my initial design concept. There’s no pattern to follow, so I have to really look at the emerging composition and make the next step intentionally. Sometimes it means that a piece has to “marinate” on the design wall for some time before it becomes clear what that next step is. I had a piece on the wall for nearly six weeks this summer because the composition I thought I wanted didn’t work and I wasn’t sure where to go next with it. I did figure it out, but I can’t show that one just yet.
Transit, above, is on the smaller side of this new work at 36″ x 40″. This piece evolved out of my experience at the Crow Barn this summer. You can read about that adventure here. I was asked to submit work for a gallery show in Gainesville, FL this fall that used neutral colors as a base, so I pulled out all the various neutral values I had and went to work. Of course I couldn’t resist tossing some color in there! I was thinking about rock formations when I cut out the larger shapes, but when I showed the piece to my son who works in the theater, he said it looked like a subway map to him. So Transit it became.
Both Transit and Fireworks, the featured image on this post, were accepted to the exhibit and will be traveling to Florida next week. I’ll be down there later this fall and I’m looking forward to seeing them hanging.
One of the major drawbacks of working large–Fireworks is 65″ square–is the time it takes to quilt them.
When I was working smaller and had a deadline to get ready for a show, I could often quilt several pieces in a day. It took me many days to get the texture stitched on Fireworks–even working for eight hours or more each day! I’ll have to figure that part out for sure. But I think the texture is worth it–see the Fireworks detail below.
These larger quilts have gotten some good response when I have exhibited them, and I’m looking forward to including some new large pieces in my booth in the shows I have coming up this fall.
Mark your calendars!
October 12-14, 2018 – Rittenhouse Square Fine Craft Show, Philadelphia, PA
November 16-18, 2018 – Craft + Design Show, Richmond, VA
Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your comments!