Dive into the Scraps and Make Dreams

60's bee fabric finally put to use!

60’s bee fabric finally put to use!

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!

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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.

P1050477I 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.  P1050478

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.)

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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!P1050476

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 !)

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About francifularts

I am an independent art educator. I had my first experience teaching ceramics when I was 24 and worked in the University for Youth program at the University of Denver. As an elementary school teacher I always found myself integrating the arts across the curriculum, which led to me working as an artist in the schools. In May of 2008 I began a master's program with Lesley University in their Creative Arts in Learning Program. It was a truly transformative and incredible experience which led me to decide to devote the rest of my teaching career to teaching art, and through the arts. About the same time that I completed my master's degree in January of 2011 I was hired to teach art in two different programs. I have never been happier in my work as a teacher, and I really appreciate the wonderful professors and cohort of fellow teachers I studied with at Lesley University. I also want to thank all of the wonderful arts educators that I have met online through the TAB/choice list serv for their thoughtful posts and insightful suggestions for teaching art!
This entry was posted in process vs. product, quilting, reflections on art making and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dive into the Scraps and Make Dreams

  1. Beth says:

    Hi, Franciful Arts, I did go read this posting for which you sent me a link. I had gotten up early this mornng and was eating some cereal. As I read, I started to chew more and more quickly because I was so excited. It made me realize how much I miss working with and spending time with other artists! I’m going to explore your blog some more. You inspired me today! Thanks for the great advice and encouragement. Beth from Acorn Pies

  2. Beth says:

    P.S. Have you ever tried crazy log cabin quilting? I have made a few of them and it is my favorite way to quilt….completely intuitive! I think you would like it. Beth

  3. I did try crazy quilting a long time ago, but I’ll have to revisit it! It’s really been fun for me, getting to know you through your blog. We have a lot of common interests! I hope we can keep up the dialogue! It’s too bad we live so far apart, because it would be fun to get together, and create, and bounce ideas off of one another!

  4. Sartenada says:

    I love Your post! My wife is also quilter, so that’s why Your post inspired me.

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