Experimenting with quilt series

It is hard to think about anything but the election or the Nor ‘Easter rambling up the coast, but before too much more time goes by, I wanted to catch up my dear readers on the the Middle Passage quilt experiments.  You may recall “Middle Passage I” after its first dunk in the indigo vat:

It looked  more like blue fog than rising water, so I dunked the entire bottom half.  But first, I used corn syrup as a resist.  I slathered it on with a paint brush, hoping to preserve some of the color of the floral green shapes, the green hut, the turtle, and a few of the red stripes of the batik.
The corn syrup worked as a resist, but it will take some quilting to make it ‘work’ as a visual treatment.  And maybe it won’t.  We’ll see.  Not sure what the sugars did, if anything, to the indigo vat.
The back shows how much dye the quilt has absorbed.  Some dye landed on the upper green/white linen area by accident, so with a paint brush I applied more dye just to the surface (techniques learned in Glennis Dolce’s Indigo Class).  I also shadowed the edge of the moon with indigo.

Last week my fingers turned blue while quilting those floral green areas and the turtle.  And, I was disappointed with what the stitching accomplished.  Between the transfer of dye to my fingers and the presence of batik (notoriously difficult to poke a needle through), I may opt to draw with thread on one of my machines.

Also, it occurred to me that if this quilt is to live on someone’s wall in the future, it will need to be backed with fresh cloth, because I think the dye would transfer to the wall as well.  Maybe I could rinse in vinegar?  Then wash in soap and water?  I did this for the first time with one of the rectangular pieces of linen that I hemmed into a scarf.  Not a trace of blue came out in the rinse, which means success – I think!

I am prepared to be disappointed with these experiments.  It is the very nature of an experiment that the outcome is unknown.  In a way, every quilt is an experiment.  But, sometimes we add new techniques or color choices that scramble things more than usual.  If this one bombs, I will cut it up and try to use the pieces in another way. 

What do YOU do with failed experiments?  And, how do you talk to yourself while trying something utterly new and possibly terrible looking?

11 thoughts on “Experimenting with quilt series

  1. deanna7trees

    my failed experiments usually are cut up and bits and pieces are used in other projects. i also make purses, pouches, etc. with failures. i recently made a huge carryall bag from a small quilt made in an online class. i just basically folded it in half, stitched the sides, gathered up the top and added a handle. i use it to carry my quilting supplies to bee on thursdays. nothing goes to waste.

  2. deedeemallon

    Hi Deanna. I also made a nice messenger bag with two square quilts that weren’t doing it for me this summer… The blue dye in this cloth makes it a possible problem for wearing…. more to come!

  3. saskia

    I could say every piece I make is an experiment, the not knowing how things will turn out is what keeps me going…….and in some cases it takes a while for me to finish them, because I don’t really understand them – if that makes sense – I’ve cut up several paintings and re-used parts, or painted over them and with the ‘quilts’ there’s a growing number of unfinished efforts that will eventually (hmmm) turn into something I like or can say: yes it is done!
    Your indigo dye has transformed the feel of the piece, without my being able to put that feeling into words; the back reminds me of Rothko.

  4. deb

    I wonder how the very dark areas would discharge..I use dishwasher ge. Maybe take just a little color away and reveal ???

    1. deedeemallon

      I rinsed like mad, but have nothing else. Since it is really too dark, I could try some dishwashing soap and another round of rinsing… thanks for the idea…

  5. Nat

    You are a woman of my heart! Well done for experimented this quilt. Did you use procion indigo dye or real powder indigo? I love the quilt before and after the dyed. I wouldn’t mind hanging it on my wall – hugs Nat

  6. ali

    I’ve visited and looked at this several times. It’s really grown on me, and now I’m not sure it’s too dark at all–I like it! As for failed experiments, or re-directed projects because of unanticipated results, well, that’s where most of my projects reside.

  7. deedeemallon

    I used prereduced indigo power from Dharma trading… As for ‘too dark’ or backing because of the possible staining effects… we’ll see. My head is actually not ‘with’ this piece right now. It’s back with the barn and another much lighter landscape.

  8. KrisR

    I’ve loved watching you experiment with this Dee! It’s so refreshing. I know when I did some rusting of a ‘perfectly good’ quilt top – it was mind-blowing to several of the women in my small quilt group…they just couldn’t understand. But….I thought it was boring and I was willing to play with it.

    One thing I’ve been going to try at some point is to bury a quilt for 6 months in the ground. I’m not sure where I got that idea but I wrote it on my idea board and need to see what happens.

    Can’t wait to see what you do next with it.

  9. deedeemallon

    Hi Kris, were you happy with your rusting outcome? Burying a quilt sounds intriguing. Do you post pictures anywhere?


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