Sunday, February 14, 2016

Threads - And The Last Padfolios

I've been having a conversation with Chris of about thread these last few days as she works on her latest quilt and I work on my latest padfolio. We both were bumping up against color and value choices as well as solid vs variegated, and even poly vs cotton when the stitching would be traveling over shifts in value of the underlying fabric. Will the thread I choose look jerky as it variegates, will it show up too much and become a distraction or not enough and get lost save for any texture it might create? Auditioning doesn't seem to help. I tend to lay a length of thread over where it will be stitched or "pool" it if the design will be irregular. Chris actually put in some stitches by hand on her current piece to test her choice, even though she planned to machine quilt. Both of us find that when the real stitching begins, the thread often does something entirely different than we expected. Chris could rip hers out (which she did) and try again; I on the other hand have to live with what happens on the padfolios because holes punched into Peltex (which is what the covers are fused to) when stitching are impossible to get rid of should one make a mistake and need a do-over. I do some testing on small pieces of fabric fused to Peltex to see what the thread will look like in a satin stitch and to test tension, but otherwise, it is often a hold-your-breath-and-hope-for-the-best proposition. 

In the case of the dark purple with blue accents padfolio, I thought the variegated thread would do the job of compromise over the predominantly dark fabric with a few lighter spot. Instead, I found it a bit distracting, showing up in a way I hadn't exactly foreseen. It made me wish I'd opted for the navy thread I'd considered but feared would read a harsh line over those light areas. So when I decided to cut another cover from the fabric to make up a second one (as long as I was making others for my customer to choose from), I'd do the stitching differently and with different thread. I was amazed that this section had much more visible purple in it, and that the lining fabric I'd used in the first one did not begin to look right with this one. Maybe I should use a purple variegated Oliver Twist - its changes more subtle than the King Tut I'd used on the first one and a seemingly perfect match. But again, I was afraid it would show too much and take over the show. Remembering my previous thought to stick with navy, I ended the back and forth and stitched away with an Aurofil solid dark blue thread. It barely shows except over some lighter areas, which I have to admit I thought I wanted, so why am I disappointed and ruing the fact that I did not use the purple thread? Just look at how lovely a closure cord I could have made with that Perle cotton if I had, but now it doesn't look right with the navy satin stitching. Sigh... It's the Goldilocks syndrome again - not too much this direction, or the other, searching for that perfect spot in the middle, but erring too conservative. I've now identified a blue decorative thread that may work, after stunning myself with the lack of any dark blue elastic or Perle cotton.

It doesn't take much variance in fabric to change how a thread will read. Here are the two padfolios I made for my customer who wanted the rich rust one that had sold to choose from. In auditioning the thread I'd used on the original over the one on the right (cut from the same piece of fabric but with much more light areas) and the one on the left which has less red in it, I was satisfied that it was the perfect thread for both. Yet when they were done, I'd wished I'd used a darker rust thread on the left one - something more like the darkest values in it. 

Granted, there's nothing wrong with the thread I used, but in hindsight, I wished I'd thought to go bolder so the leaves would show more. It ended up being the one my customer chose to buy, the thread I used having nothing to do with it. She got sucked in by the lining fabric - see above. The lining and pockets for the one she didn't buy are identical to the original Rich Rust padfolio.

I had better luck pleasing myself with the Burgundy Leaves padfolios. Love the thread I chose, the way it showed up on both light and dark areas but faded in and out as well. 

Subtle yet not having to be searched for to see. 

I dangled them in front of my customer and she bit, adding this one with dragonfly lining and pockets to her order. (We are old friends so I don't feel too guilty about that, especially since she tells me she's keeping it for herself while the rest will be given away.)

The second one is essentially the same, with flashes of texture falling in different places and a commercial leaf fabric for the lining. 

I was quite surprised that of the several toned pink prints I could have used on this one, none of them felt quite right with the one that eventually got the dragonfly lining. The subtleties of hand-dyed fabric: even when cut from the same piece of cloth, each section will vary enough to need a customized approach.

I'm thinking about putting some of the unsold ones in the exhibit that Masks will be going into. At that venue they have pedestals with enclosed glass cases for 3-dimensional items like small sculptures, jewelry and baskets that might otherwise "walk off" or be mishandled if out in the open. This has been the difficulty in figuring out where to display these locally - generally my options have been to display them in open wall racks or in a big basket on a counter or table. 

On the other hand, after pumping out 14 padfolios over the last couple of months - a group that I absolutely love - I want to be done with them for awhile and get back to other creative endeavors. Might be nice to just have a few on hand for my repeat customer here in town... 


Lucia Sasaki said...

Hi Sheila, beautiful post, thanks so much for sharing it!
Lovely padfolios!
How good you have dialogued with other textil artist, it is so important get along with others, making communities of practice.
What is Goldilock's syndrome?
I hope you can post someday your padfolios exposed in Masks.
You inspire me so much, do you know this?
Thanks again!

Charlton Stitcher said...

Thread dilemmas or not, these are lovely and the colours are luscious!

Chris said...

Thanks for the link to my blog. Oh my thread certainly does make a difference and adds to the many difficult decisions that happen when making something. No wonder we are usually glad when a project is done! Good blog today...

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Lucia - you inspire me too! So it always makes me feel good when you make comments like this. When I say Goldilocks syndrome, I'm referring to the children's story about Goldilocks and the 3 bears. Perhaps it isn't one familiar in your part of the world. Basically, Goldilocks, a little girl, goes into the house of the three bears when they are out for a walk. She sees their porridge on the table and tries each one. One is too hot, one too cold but one is just right. She tries their chairs - same thing. One is too big, another also too big but one is just right. Then she checks out their beds. One is too hard, one too soft but the third one is just right.

So that is why I say this thread selection I do makes me think I am just like Goldilocks - only one is just right! But it seems I have to test the others before I find that out. :-)

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thank you Charleston Stitcher. I do so love the colors in these too. It crossed my mind that you have a much easier time of it working in black and white. ;-)

The Idaho Beauty said...

Chris, you are more than welcome and thanks for extending the same kindness to me. You and I have both experienced how a thread color can affect the fabric. Some say the color doesn't matter, it's the value that's important, and I suppose in many cases that may be true. But I have a lovely little quilt made by Gerrie Congdon that shows exactly how much thread color changes the fabric beneath it and sometimes the other way around too. It would be quite different with a similar value thread in a different color.

MulticoloredPieces said...

Hi, Sheila. Thank you so much for stopping by and contributing. Your support and the support of the blogging community has helped so much just to lift us out of a nagging depression that resulted from seeing so much evil around us. We have decided that we will be in Paris at the hospital March 15th, no matter what. Moving ahead. I am truly appreciative of your thoughtfulness and generosity that has made this decision possible.

And your padfolios are exquisite. Wish I could stop by more often as you're always creating such intriguing work...but, such is life for the moment. Take care. best, nadia

The Idaho Beauty said...

You are very welcome, Nadia. I can empathize with the depression you refer to. I was feeling it myself and trying to find some way out of the darkness that seemed to be everywhere in our world. I began focusing on an idea of sending light into the world, considering light as my resolution word. And then I popped into you blog on the day you put up your January Light/Lighten Up sketch. Well, it was a bit of a sign, and I printed off your sketch, framed it and hung it in my studio as a reminder. You can read more about it here if you find the time.

Thank you too for your positive comments about my work. Frankly, I don't think it is NEARLY as intriguing as yours! But to each artist her own - I can't imagine doing the kind of work you do but I find it inspirational all the same.

So glad to hear that your spirits are lifting and that you will be getting your husband the help he needs. Godspeed.

Michele Matucheski said...

Thread color choices ... I hear you. I just did a bunch of stars on the cornerstones of a quilt with a variagted green thread that on audition seemed to be the right choice. When they were all done, they looked dull. Uninspired. I should have gone with the shinier embroidery thread (Don't worry, not rayon -- I learned that lesson the heard way). Indeed, a block nearby had some of that embroidery thread, and it made that block sing ... All that to say, I empathize with your artistic struggles. AND ...

Your padfolios are beautiful as always. AND your customer didn't seem to notice.