Monday, July 13, 2009

What I Love (And Hate) About Designing

It's thinking I'm all done, the work ready to be framed or bound, my mind thoroughly made up and all doubts addressed and set aside...and then discovering the piece needs something else. This happened not once, but twice over the last few days, and it's what I hate about working on my own designs, yet love - that unexpected solution that sparks a bit of excitement in me again and makes the work better. I'll start with Broken Promises, my Azalea Mosaic requiring no batting, no stitch, and at one point not even a background. I was going to use a traditional mat over it and slip it into a frame. But then I found the perfect background to create a fabric mat, and fused it to that. Still, I thought it was going straight into the frame, but I couldn't do it. Something about that fused edge made me uneasy. I thought about the decorative stitches on my machine, one all jagged that would carry on the broken theme and decided it would be the perfect ending. After trying several threads and adjustments, I settled on this variegated one that picked up several colors in the mosaic. And of course, the real thing did not read the same as the sample. Grrr...

The yellow in the thread was pretty bright, so I thought I could fix what I didn't like by inking over it to tone it down. Nope, that wasn't the whole problem. The problem was the stitching looked fuzzy in direct opposition to my other clean lines. It also lent an air of agitation to the piece, and although the theme of broken promises could include agitation and irritation, that was not the feeling I had when arranging the pieces. No, it was more sadness, disappointment, a quiet resignation. So the ziggy zaggy thread had to go.

But now I had holes that were not going to disappear, so something would have to be stitched in its place. I opted for this dark green rayon thread in a satin stitch wide enough to cover the holes. I only made one pass - the brokenness can show through a bit in this cleaner finish. NOW it is ready to slip into its frame.

Then it was on to finishing Slippery Slope. One of the drawbacks of hand-dyes and batiks is that the base fabric is quite fine compared to most commercial cottons. A yellow like I planned to use would allow the busy batik it would lay upon to shadow through, so fusing was not an option. I reverted back to backing it with a piece of Decor Bond cut to the exact size the yellow portion needed to be. I trimmed the yellow about 3/8" beyond so that I could turn it to the back, creating a smooth edge finish. I mitered the corners and used glue baste to hold it in place on the back. I could lay down a line of glue, roll the edge over and hit it with the iron, immediately holding it in place.

The idea was for the yellow to look a bit as if it were floating on the background. I centered the mosaic on it and fused it in place, then centered that unit onto the batik background which had also been stabilized with Decor Bond. A little glue baste several inches away from the edges held it in place for the next step.

I didn't want to stitch this piece to the background and decided to slip narrow strips of fusible web along the under edges of the yellow, then ironed with a piece of release paper protecting the top. Using fusible under the entire piece would be overkill since I'd be stitching through that section.

And here is the stitching - I opted for the heavier silk buttonhole thread and was glad I did. It gave just the effect I was hoping for. And here is where I thought I was done, except for adding one more line of stitching.

I was a little unhappy, though, with the way my yellow frame was working. I proportioned it with wider sides to accommodate the fact that I planned to put this piece in a 12 x 16 inch frame. But it just looked a bit blah and off to me. Hmm. I don't know why I thought of it, but suddenly I wondered if it wouldn't improve things, the balance if I added narrow strips of green in that wider border side. And to my mind, this gave the piece the additional interest it lacked. On a whim, I pulled some leftover background from the first Azalea Mosaic, cut strips, compared that look to strips of the green in the center, and decided the speckled one looked better. But I also could see that adding the rejected strips out into the batik, offset like the line of the quilting, would make it even better.

Now it really is done (except I must confess it's not really in the frame yet - that's a photo-shopped one), and I am so much happier with it. I hate it when all the auditioning and thinking and envisioning goes from excitement to disappointment, when I want to be done but I'm not. But then, when these glimpses of what could be come to me, I love working through the process once more.


RHONDA said...

You're right! It definitely needed those green strips, but I doubt that I'd have thought of that solution. It was inspired. I love the finished piece.

bj parady said...

and good job recovering from 'missteps'--the end results look great and show no hesitation.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, guys - much appreciated!