I'm ready to put the sleeve on Willow Leaves II, and was reminded that I'd briefly entertained the idea of displaying it on its side. That is to say, when I stamped on the leaf impressions, I did so with the long dimension running up and down as in Willow Leaves I, fully intending it to be viewed that way. While the leaf placements are similar, I'm not convinced I arranged them as well as I did on the first effort. As so often happens, I was jogged into considering an alternate orientation purely by accident as the top was turned during the course of basting it for quilting. Not only would it make Willow II less of a duplicate of Willow I, I found I liked the look of this particular rectangle (14" x 20-1/2") viewed horizontally. The leaves within it seemed to look better that direction too.
I'd pretty much forgotten about that until yesterday when I laid out the freshly bound quilt and realized I'd lost sight of which way was up. I'm guessing it doesn't matter much since I'm having such a hard time figuring it out, but I think the picture above right is the original orientation. Below is the sideways orientation that I'm leaning towards. Which do you think works best?
As far as critiquing the finished product, I totally misjudged how the batik would read. Willow I's background was a dark grey solid. I thought the batik would be lighter and the painted leaves would show up better on it. I didn't realize how busy it would be, convincing the eye to dwell on it and not the leaves. I didn't improve matters much with the quilting, although I do like it very much. It just needs to be on a quieter background and perhaps the leaves need to be a little more intense in color.
As for the binding, I'm very pleased with the wider green with the yellow piping. (Click on the picture for a larger view.) Normally, I prefer a nice narrow 1/4" binding, although I've used a wider one on occasion, when I felt the piece needed a little more statement on the outside, something to balance it more. I've come to realize that it is the contemporary and art quilts that seem to demand this wider 1/2" binding. While other art quilters are dispensing with a binding altogether, I'm finding I like the way it frames my pieces, almost making the center float above it. It gives a somewhat matted look. A 1/4 inch binding just wouldn't give the same importance or balance to the piece. In fact, after staring long and hard at Grid 3 to figure out why I was less than happy with it, I decided it was because the binding was too narrow. Compare Grid 3 to the wider-bound Grids that preceded it here and here.