Sometimes it just doesn’t work.
I love creating improvisationally without a pattern or templates, but I’m the first to admit that the process isn’t foolproof. That composition just doesn’t hang together right, or the colors don’t mesh like you thought they would, or the lines and shapes just aren’t interesting.
It happens to everyone. So what do you do?
Mostly I put the quilt top aside for a while. Sometimes I bring it out again after a few weeks or months to see if there’s something I missed. If not–I give serious consideration to cutting it up.
That’s what happened with Emerging. Above is the original quilt top–I had started with a motif and colors that I liked–the blue and black in the upper right. I tried to play with the motif to change the colors, lines, and shapes. But it failed. I put it away and thought maybe I’d take it apart at some point and try to make it more interesting.
Then I saw a call for entry for a regional exhibit organized by the DC/MD/WV region of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). The theme was Imagination and the accepted quilts all had to be 12″ x 48″. So I pulled that top out and folded it to see if cropping to that dimension made a difference. And it did!
In every class I teach, I talk to my students about the importance of auditioning–colors, fabrics, shapes. It’s important to listen to your inner artist during this process–if it’s just OK, I put it aside and try again until I come up with something that makes my heart sing. And cropping this quilt top made my heart sing.
I folded the quilt in several places to see which one made the most sense. It was a little bit short of 48″, so I cut another section and added it to the bottom. This is a difficult size to photograph well, but I was amazed at how much more interesting the composition was cropped to those dimensions. I especially like the random triangles that appeared on the sides.
And it got in to the exhibit! It will be a virtual exhibit in January at Blackrock Center for the Arts in Maryland–I’ll share details when they become available.
I quilted each section in a different motif–pebbles, fans, spirals–to give texture and dimension to the composition. The colors are still a bit unusual, but the lines and shapes are much more interesting and the texture adds another element of contrast.
Here’s the statement I wrote to go along with this piece:
Ideas bubble up from the subconscious, making their way to the light. It isn’t always a linear progression. Emerging reflects this dynamic as an idea becomes reality–light emerging from the dark.
I’m glad I figured out a way to give this quilt new life. What do you do with a quilt top that doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would?