I do like it when the machine gives me direction.
There have been too many times to count where the bobbin runs out just as I’m about to use the wrong color thread somewhere… or just as I am too tired to keep quilting with any control (but would have kept going had the thread not run out).
On this script quilt and its companion piece, I keep going to add machine quilting and something goes. After breaking TWO needles and running out of bobbin thread once, I get the hint!
A little ruthlessness can go a long way, particularly with little pieces that seem to be going nowhere. This chunk was the bottom of a piece roughly four times as big. It started as pure abstraction. It started as another lap-size piece that would accommodate my need to work upstairs, without my machine. It was a continuation of a new-found love of handquilting with buttery layers.
I then thought I saw a figure in the shapes and started to turn the blue shape into the dress of an angel (the little green tip of embroidery, upper right, was a foot). I kept stitching, kept adding thread and time, and the result was getting further and further away from anything that I could stand to look at.
At first I was going to chuck it. Something I plan to do more of in the future. Just chuck it.
But then I cut it up and now I have some pieces that I want to play with. I have a drawer full of cut-up-quilt chunks. The new thing here is — What if I created something specifically for cutting up (as opposed to cutting up rejects, only?) We shall see. We shall see.
I also cut up a piece that had used a lovely, transferred image of an angel from a notecard as its centrepoint. Even though the image had been cut out, incorporated into a collage, then transferred to clear acetate and then sewn onto a quilt… everytime I looked at it my heart said, “Copyright violation. Copyright violation” (think of the ‘land shark’ from Saturday Night Live in the late 70’s to get the voice right). Even when I considered finishing the piece as a gift or for my own wall, I felt the drag of the copyright violation. So, I chopped up THAT angel too (jeez, this is starting to sound like a nasty theme).
The upper left teeny bit shows just a corner of the acetate collage.
I am reveling in the process of letting go of objects that feel negative and seem destined to continue provoking a negative response.
(This is NOT like the difficult part of constructing a quilt where design problems need to be resolved… where you are INVESTED in the process, you CAN’T WAIT to see how it turns out, where you feel ONTO SOMETHING).
In the case of the Acetate Angel (sounds like a name Craig Ferguson might have danced under — you’d have to watch his show to get this reference), I was dreading the prospect of spending many hours to quilt and bind a project that screamed ‘copyright violation’ everytime I looked at it, even if I was never going to put it near the public’s eye.
Not so long ago, I would have done so, out of a kind of compulsion. I suppose that’s why it feels very liberating NOT TO.
This picture was shot under a sky light that was filtering northern light through a thin veil of snow — hence the blue cast.
Are all epiphanies obvious after the fact? Here’s my latest, associated with making this little quilt — when taking on something new, don’t change up EVERYTHING else while you’re at it.
While consciously switching scale, palette, or medium is very instructive to an artist, and probably ought to be built into one’s work rhythm on a regular basis, juggling too many projects where everything is new is disorienting.
Case in point — my first script quilts (like the above). I was busy shifting to a paler palette, sewing more by hand, trying out gel mediums and markers on fabric, weaving strips of fabric — and getting very frustrated because NOTHING was familiar (except the collage aspect).
For the little spiral piece, I played with some of my most beloved fabrics. . . current fabrics (in use in the Global Warming Quilt that is in progress downstairs). This is my preferred palette. I am drawn to very saturated colors — not always this hot, but usually this saturated. To mix in a few washed out hues was not enough to throw me. Further, these are patterns I love — polka dots, solar disks, spirals.
So, the teeny scale and hand stitching, which are NOT usual for me, could be dealt with.
I picked a single variegated Sulky thread and stuck with it, so that I could focus on placement of stitches and not thread. It was so pleasurable to stitch!
PS I am thrilled to be pushing a needle through soft layers. In the past, I have needed to use my TEETH, often, to get a needle through because I’ve backed my quilt with an upholstery fabric and layered applique on top of piecing, and sometimes added sections of previous quilts (that would be SIX layers, one of them upholstery-weight!).
Computer freak over the weekend. I am NOT a PDA owner, I have an ordinary phone, I’ve sent perhaps six text messages so far and two never made it because I pressed the wrong button, I can go on vacation and not look at a screen — but this weekend, when a virus made our whole system go ga-ga, I panicked. A little. (And, probably only a little because I have such faith in my husband’s ability to fix these things).
And Ken DID fix it over the weekend — two days re-whatevering, and it seemed fixed — but yesterday, the weird pop ups popped up again. And again. Oh, GOD AND AGAIN!
So, if I disappear for awhile, you’ll know why.
And then, there are the interruptions. The interruptions associated with having a recently disabled sister in need of lots of help (yes, she’s getting better, but housing? work? benefits? — the list is substantial)… as well as the tasks associated with having two teenage children —
trips to the dermatologist, the dentist, the orthodontist, attending track meets, ordinary pick ups and drop offs, homework review, homework nag, computer supervision, computer nag, cooking, shopping, making lunch, making breakfast, cleaning up from breakfast, making dinner, making snacks before dinner, washing clothes, folding clothes, hunting for things like a particular sweatshirt or the mate to a ski glove,
and other jobs —
hunting for the source of stink in the fridge, cleaning the containers that held the stink in the fridge, cleaning out a closet now and then, stripping beds (I’ll never admit how ‘now and then’ THAT gets done), scrubbing tubs and toilets, unearthing the dining room table, looking for a summer cottage for 14, vacuuming up dog hair, walking the dog, asking other people to walk the dog, bathing the dog, cleaning up after my sister’s cat, feeding the cat, getting the car in for brake-fix, putting shit away, hanging up wet towels (Oh, wait a minute that last item belongs up with having two teenage boys in the house), putting more shit away…
all these things have a way of taking up time without necessarily granting me (or anyone?) the sense of having ‘done’ anything…
This is not a complaint, truly, not a complaint, but an observation that (I believe for cultural reasons having to do with gender), I have to keep making over and over. I have to keep noticing over and over how my time is ‘not my own’ — not only because I forget, but because in forgetting, the accumulated pile of things not-done have a way of starting to criticize me.
And then, of course, there are the queries (upheld by various practices that I needn’t go into) —
why does anything attain the status of ‘interruption’? Why is anything deemed unimportant? Why can’t I see that things unfold as they should…
Ahhhhhhh. There’s the rub.
Above, a mid-winter mandala that I don’t know what to do with — not a pillow, not a wall-hanging — don’t know. But it cheers me up to look at its hot, bright colors.
In the Upper Field with Jack this morning (Bowen/Thompsonville field, not Heaven!), the light spoke straight to my heart about spring. Snow squalls on the way this afternoon, frigid temps returning this weekend, I know, I know, but the light does not lie… the oaks ringing the field were awash in a lemony-rose color that tickled my chest in a way that only people who live in wintry climes understand.