Friday, January 20, 2006

Demons Under Control - For Now

My identity crisis seems to have abated a bit this week. I started work on my "self-portrait" journal quilt and I feel like my feet are back under me. Here is the background for it. I'd dithered a bit about what to use, what would characterize me. Should I use reproduction fabrics? Should I piece some tiny units leftover from other projects, pieces so small most people would have tossed them, but that I snag and incorporate somewhere eventually? I could always piece a small version of my logo block. Or maybe using a batik or hand-dye would express who I am better?

I've heard of people who dream about quilt ideas, but I've never found solutions that way. Usually, my lightbulbs go on in the sometimes lengthy moments between turning the light off and actually falling asleep. This time appears to be similar to when I'm walking; the brain goes into free-flow and solutions often pop up seemingly out of nowhere. This time, though, I had wanted to jot down some notes about the prep I'd done so far on the design and found the only time I had was right before bed. I ended the notes by brainstorming the possibilities for the background. I'd pretty much dismissed the block idea as being too time-consuming or fussy, and even said no to printing the block GIF directly to fabric for the same reason. Well, it was late so I closed the notebook and turned off the light, falling almost immediately to sleep.

Perhaps I should do this more often, because the next morning there was little doubt about how I would execute the background. It had to have my Idaho Beauty Block in it, and in my favorite color - teal. I don't know why I haven't thought about teal when talking about favorite colors lately. I mean, look at the color I chose for my logo block. Look at the color of this blog. Is teal not what defines me, even though it hasn't made its way into many of my quilts? I love wearing it, I have it in my stash, I need to start using it more. So I pulled out my teals and spotted this one used in the stars. It started life as a reproduction fabric from a grab bag. I couldn't believe how much I disliked it. Black and lime green on a white background - garish and not very reproduction in my book. When I first experimented with dyeing fabric, I'd come up with a luscious teal recipe and decided to try overdyeing a commercial fabric. Mmmm, what fabric did I not already love that could be sacrificed to this trial? Ah, of course! This ugly fabric - and it was transformed beautifully. Gosh, that must have been 10 years ago and I had never used it, I have no idea why. But now I have.

As for the background fabric, it is probably 10 years old as well. It is from a line of Nancy Crow fabrics and mimics the marbling that I was so unsuccessful with in my own attempts. I love marbled fabric almost as much as I love batiks and hand-dyes, but have a hard time working them into my pieces. In it went, creating the low contrast I wanted for the background, the low contrast that says me, me, me! (I'm afraid that the colors of these two fabrics really aren't coming across well. At least on my monitor, the teal of the star is not as rich as in real life, missing a bit of bluish tint. I hope you get the idea.)

As for the block construction, I broke down the sections of the block into paperpiecing unites and printed those out on freezer paper. Then I used this "folded back foundation" piecing method that I will be teaching next week. I always like to work with a technique for several days running before teaching it, just so the process will be second nature again, so that was part of the reason I chose this method to work with this block. It is slick, slick, slick and I am so excited about it now. This is the back after all the piecing is done. I hope you can see that the freezer paper pattern has not been stitched through and because of that, the seams can be pressed any which way and get tucked underneath the pattern as units are sewn together and pressed. Makes for a very tidy package and easy removal. Click on the picture for a larger view.

So identity crisis solved for the moment. Here I have done homage to all that has brought me to this point, without apology and without loathing, but with gratitude and desire to incorporate it still when I can. The next stage of this quilt will speak more to the recent influence of art quilts. It'll all be in there.


Mad Max said...

The background puts me in mind of the time I saw Van Gogh's Starry Night in Paris. It has a strange familiarity as if you've seen it in a dream. Suits you I think.

Nikki said...

Sheila, I'm so glad you left a comment on my blog - you saved me getting on the old computer to find my bookmark for your blog!

I love the low contrast of your block and I loved reading the thought process that got you there. I torture myself this way a lot. And it always makes for better, more personal, more satisfying work when I go back to the foundation of the things I love. Good for you!