Tag Archives: learning

One thing at a time

Global Warming - in progress

Global Warming – in progress

It’s not clear to me when the intentionally chaotic Global Warming quilt (a jumble meant to depict the effects of climate change) shifted from design to “visual clutter”.  But, it did. Which means that I have changed.

Two questions emerge: How much do our aesthetics change over time? What makes them change?

Looking and learning online has decidedly been a factor.  All those gorgeous eco-dyed fabrics. The Slow Cloth movement. The classes with Karen Ruane (contemporary embroidery) and Jude Hill (Spirit Cloth). In particular, I have learned to appreciate a softer palette, unprinted fabrics, and embroidered surface design. I will always be a sucker for polka dots. And paisleys. And certain florals. And stripes. Well, okay, a collage sensibility means that in all likelihood I will forever love printed fabrics, but something has shifted.

Nowadays, I want the prints to have SPACE around them. Breathing space. Space to rest. This is exactly parallel to how I feel in life – there is too much shit everywhere in my house and the calendar has been ridiculously chopped up. Not enough space to breathe or rest.

Because I have worked too long and hard on making all the sections on the quilt pictured above relate to each other, I won’t cut it up. It’s nearly done anyway. The four or five companions in the series, though?  Maybe not. Because I am itching to see what happens when I take a section of vibrant, crazy, patched color and surrounded it with pure blue or shades of white. . .

ONE THING AT A TIME. I will add breathing room on the NEXT quilt. Jack is teaching me the unbelievable value of taking one thing at a time. With a quilt, that can mean very simply, taking one thread at a time, or one patch at a time, or one quadrant at a time.  One can rest in that, too.

Dots in the trunk…

Christmas came a little early! I met a jeweler in October, who is married to an upholsterer, who called me last week and asked me if I wanted some fabric.

I tried to limit myself to two bags, but took three, and I may go back for some more silks. It was all so beautiful and neatly folded and sorted by color and/or fiber type.

Truly made my day — my week — my month?

But, here’s the thing. As I fall down the rabbit hole of blogging and find one amazing quilter after another, three of whom, say, then lead me to another set of amazing quilters (perhaps in the comments of the first batch of fiber artists), and then I find ten other amazing quilters on a sidebar somewhere in there, and I am feasting my eyes in wonder and appreciation…. I am falling, falling down this seemingly endless tunnel of creation thinking — can I possibly slow down long enough, commit long enough, pursue long enough, to create a signature?

And here’s another thing, I am starting to wonder how I can continue to be a quilter who merely SEWS when all the work that most excites me these days seems to involve dying, bleaching, wringing, aging, distressing, and intense surface embellishment.

So, while I LOVE, love, love these dots — part of me is judging them for being premade dots — dots that I have not fashioned with my hand, dots that are not imposed by rust or clamps or applique. They are velour-ish designer dots.

There is more to say about this that has to do with learning/imitating/finding one’s true palette/tempo/scale/approach, that I am much too tired to take on at this moment.

But let me say that in falling down this rabbit hole lined with pictures, I am aware that I have to preserve a rhythm, a confidence, a pursuit, that is all my own.

Which is difficult this time of year because even though I have some time my basement-space is too cold to work in right now. And for some reason, I am feeling determined to keep the upstairs looking festive and if cluttered, cluttered with Christmas things.

I guess I am taking a break.  I am wondering if I want a “word” to inform a series of quilts, like Jude Hill and others who follow Jude are thinking about…  And what would my word be?  I have been collecting fabrics for awhile now that have a script-like quality — perhaps what I want to explore is the shape and nature of writing itself, and not a particular word.  Take this wisteria, for example — I feel its twists and turns as a kind of language, one that very definitely resembles writing.

Lastly, I am mulling over the idea of taking on one master quilter a month and consciously making a single piece that does homage to their style, content, and approach (as I understand them), as a way to learn, as a way to more directly work with this whole tricky business of learning by imitation and making something one’s own.

But don’t worry — I love my velour-ish designer dots and have the utmost faith that they will be well used in the coming year!