I wanted to sew, as my sewing machine has been idle for several months. As a quilter I have a stash of fabrics and fabric scraps acquired over the years. I still have the first piece of fabric I bought in 1968 or 1969. It’s bright neon yellow with hot pink bees. I loved it, but could never figure out what to do with it. Recently it made it’s debut from the bottom of my fabric stash and was used at a TASK party (Oliver Herring inspired interactive art event) I facilitated to decorate a hat and a sculpture, but that’s another story!
I had an idea that I wanted to applique curvy organic shapes to a patchwork background. I got out my scrap box and started searching though it for fabrics that appealed to me.
I found about a dozen and started sewing them together in strips and then cut them into a variety of amoeba like shapes. I set them aside and delved into my fabric stash for background fabrics for the patchwork portion. I ended up choosing to use beige and brown hues. Two of the fabrics had been a birthday gift from a quilting friend about 15 years earlier. It’s amazing how you can love a fabric so much that you don’t use it. (And if you’re wondering its the golden fabric with the black and white spotted chickens.)
Well…I’ve come to the realization that hanging onto things is counterproductive. So I took the plunge and cut up the fabrics into a variety of squares and rectangles and started piecing them together. After I had completed my background I placed the amoeba shapes on it, and they just didn’t suit the background.
In searching through the scrap box I had stumbled upon a dark green tree shape that had originally been cut out for a quilt I made last year, but didn’t end up using. It looked wonderful on my patchwork background. So I got out some more green fabrics and started cutting more trees. And then I cut a house from one of the strips I hadn’t used for an amoeba, because that gave me an already combined house and roof. Suddenly my play with the fabrics had a focus and I ended up staying up late because I was inspired and didn’t want to quit. I always let things rest and come back to them with a fresh eye. I don’t think my composition is quite finished. When I looked at it, I thought about the song “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash and thought perhaps two cats in the yard might be fun. I also have some dark green mesh from a bag of wood scraps I ordered for my sculpture students that I may want to add. I’ve already got some ideas for the surface embellishment too. Possibly some embroidery, and definitely some machine quilted details to enhance the fabric ones. ( And I’m going to have to figure out a border for the quilt. So…as the quilt progresses I’ll post some more photos of the next stages.)
So of course I now wondered what to do with my amoeba shapes. I decided to try them on a plain blue background, and they looked much better. So now I’m thinking of either creating a solid color background, a more subdued monochromatic background, or even a rainbow of solid colored fabrics as background. It will be fun playing around with my amoebas!
I also got an additional idea of cutting up one of my free form patch work pieces and sewing those in a pinwheel design with un- patched triangular pieces. Another idea that occurred to me is creating a quilt with holes cut out of it so you could see things behind and beyond it. And this is the year I hope to see these ideas to fruition, and not let the grass grow under my feet and think, “Ah…I’ll do it sometime, when I have time.” Because I’ve learned those some days never arrive unless you purposely plan them.
When you look at something that’s finished you don’t see the journey. You see the result. Perhaps you love it, or perhaps you think it’s junk. All that we create is a process, and that process is generally far more important and interesting than the end product. The process can result in problems. The problems can take you to an unexpected solution, or generate several new problems which beckon you down additional explorations. Sometimes they bring you to a standstill, a brick wall. So either you figure out a new way to scale the wall, you take a detour, or in some cases you may decide to move on without a solution. But you are enriched by the experiences regardless. The important thing is to dive in fearlessly. Dive in to the scraps and make dreams. Stop worshipping the ideal (in my case a special piece of fabric), tear it up, reform it, resurrect it, make it your own. Even if it’s ugly it will speak your truth and have it’s own special beauty. And believe me….without mistakes we don’t have impetus to improve or challenge ourselves. If we don’t push our boundaries, try new things, experiment and explore we keep churning out the same stuff. And that goes for life as well as art! (This is not a recommendation to live so close to the edge you fall off !)