The cloth I pieced this morning makes me think the Road to Subtle is a long one for me. The pattern/color has a way of creeping in even when I intend otherwise. It looks paler without light shining from behind, but still…. I LIKE it and will enjoy continuing with it… but it’s funny how pale it started… how much I wanted to combine very subtle gradations of yellow, blue, green, and grey. Part of this not-so-subtle result might be a stash issue — as hard as it might be to believe that I don’t have enough fabric!!
The collage below ALSO departs from the original intention. I thought I might be on the road to creating a Tarot deck. Collected Fool and Joker images. Wanted to start with Zero and proceed through the Majors one by one. Flipped and fluttered through my papers.
What I got instead is a “Michelle Card”. The trademarked SoulCollage process invites the maker to create archetypes, inner aspects of the self, and animal guides. But it ALSO suggests creating cards honoring people in one’s community. Michelle in NYC has been looking out for a young pigeon this week (see her blog, Ms. Uncertainty Principles). Her actions and photos were the impetus behind this collage (not yet a card). The little open book in the corner is a reference to her being a writer. That the marbled paper on the right looks like a series of hearts really pleased me, since her actions are so much from the heart. The veined lotus came from a Peabody Essex Museum brochure cover. Even IT seemed to reference Michelle and her Buddhist practice. The map behind the dove is a ripped and re-arranged map of the Gulf, highlighting areas of concern after the Deep Well incident.
I have close to a dozen, now, collage journals where I play with color and form. I think they started as wish-books — a place to put images of things I wanted. But soon & invariably, they became something else — I couldn’t help cutting, rearranging, interrupting an image… Occasionally I drift into social commentary, but mostly it is pure play.
I’ve decided to post a few now and then. I am choosing not to worry about copyright. My love of textiles will be obvious. That I am attending to color might be clear. My obsession with house motifs and doorways will be apparent, too.
Most images come from catalogs and old magazines — a boxload of old Smithsonians, National Geographic, and some designer magazines (Living, House Beautiful, Country Living) … I have three whole books devoted to Christmas.
So Collage Page #1 features —
Venice bridge arches
bucket of wood
Alicia Silverstone’s hand and knee creases
feet of a J. Jill model
flowers and I don’t know what those blue disks are.
Here I am looking at a very soft palette. This at odds with the colors I generally choose in quiltmaking, which tend to be very saturated colors.
There is an intentional social comment here, about the commercialization of beauty and the price it exacts from women. We fall prey to the glossy images and are invited to view ourselves in bits and pieces (e.g. “I like my breasts, but I hate my ass” ). The desire for something ELSE, something deeper than the skin, is referenced by those bridges and doors, which represent transport, openings, mystery….
Not that I wouldn’t like to own that J.Jill skirt, mind…
Frozen rain ponged the roof last night, waking K and me, and leaving steps and walkways coated with ice this morning.
Boys are back at school. The year’s first journal quilt is done. I am challenged by my dog’s absolute and abject terror of the camera.
He came from Puerto Rico, where he was not a street dog, but had been abandoned and left to starve, and endured who knows what else. Just the sound of the lens cap popping off sends him cowering and shaking into a corner. Last night a camera flash on the TV had him burying his head behind my back on the couch. This slows the blog process and may not be something that beef treats can change. Today I will hear Rumi’s words as an invitation to accept this and him as it is — not to wish for something else.
Today I shall: photo Journal Quilt; begin assembling white fabrics for a next big project that will be a total departure from my usual choice of super-saturated colors; make up a bag of scraps to give away; hem D’s jeans; pack up the bottle brush trees.
Try mixing in polar fleece if you are working with wool felt. It is much cheaper and can add interest with patterns and shadings. It is just as forgiving as felt to sew. In the flower mounted on linen pictured above, all the purples and grey are wool and everything else is fleece. The two-toned leaves were cut from a striped pattern in fleece.
Recycling wrongly-shrunk sweaters and felting thrift store finds are two other good sources of wool felt. Be sure a second hand purchase is 80 to 90% wool if you plan to felt it, and use hot water in the wash. I recently bought Betz White‘s book, “Warm Fuzzies” for some great ideas on using felt — the wool cupcakes are especially fun! She has a blog and a website, as well.
In the selection of fabric jewelry above, the black is a cut-up sweater and the soft purple (dotted with a gold-silk-covered button) was a wool, tailored jacket. Jackets, I have decided, especially if lined, may not be worth the work required to cut them up (they tend to cost more than sweaters and the panels of wool uninterrupted by seams are smaller).
It is amazing how many New England quilters resort to hot colors and tropical, summery prints in their winter work. The view out of our kitchen windowsill and recently hung quilt demonstrate the contrast.
Martha's Vineyard Tile (quilt, 13 1/2" x 14")
Red as Neutral, Uglies, and Rogue Fabrics
Three of the best fabric tips I can pass along are as follows:
Treat red as a neutral,
Buy ugly fabric, and
Include rogues in your work.
A guest speaker at a meeting of the Quilter’s Connection (a guild that now meets in Watertown, MA) offered the first tip, and I think I heard people gasp. I didn’t believe it at the time, but subsequent experience has proven her right. (If I track down who said this, I promise to come back and give her credit).
Ruth McDowell, quilter, writer and teacher extraordinaire, offered the second tip. To look at her quilts is to be astonished by the fabric combinations, so I have followed this advice ever since (especially since I can’t/won’t ever be able to piece the way she does!). I actually don’t have to work too hard at this because I am a scavenger at heart and all kinds of fabric comes my way that I haven’t consciously selected. The point is, though, you never know when some repulsive print in colors you abhor is going to be THE right touch.
The last tip is mine, though I have to say it was exalted by the Gee’s Bend quilters long before I ever started quilting. A rogue is a vagrant, a scoundrel or a mischief-maker. A rogue animal is one that misbehaves. So, to include fabrics that aren’t quite part of the plan, or don’t quite look like they belong, is to follow the rogue rule. (I suppose it is a corollary to the ‘buy ugly’ rule – and meant to expand one’s choices). And, by the way, even if one is an ‘improv quilter’, one can follow this rule by selecting a piece of fabric that is not in the picking pile.
Below is a quilt where the red serves as a neutral rather than as an accent and the black is a rogue, although I’ll admit I’ve used black as a rogue often enough that it has become formulaic — and certainly, a formula cannot be a rogue!!
K's 2007 Christmas blanket
Supplies and Goodbyes
One of the great things about being a quilter is that when people have fabric to unload, they think of you. It is only recently that I have begun to say ‘no’ because of space. Today, I received the most gorgeous selection of fabrics from a friend returning to Japan that I am humbled — not just at her generosity and the exquisite quality of the fabrics, but at the whole notion of abundance. With the economic news so uniformly and unrelentingly negative, how lovely to receive this bundle!! Good luck Yoko!! I don’t think I will be able to cut the silk obis, but if I do, some creation will be packaged and sent to Japan.
Clearly, being open to receiving whatever fabric comes your way doesn’t just expand your palette (and sometimes help satisfy the Ugly Rule), it can also open you to treasure!