Monday, June 11, 2018


Results of a "I don't care" printing session last year

Chance: adjective 1. fortuitous; accidental

I'm well on my way to finishing one last piece for ArtWalk, one that has been fun to work on because every step along the way has been a matter of chance, and I often work best when solutions present themselves by chance rather than by me actively seeking them out. The picture above shows some of what happened when I abandoned my carefully planned stamping placements on specific fabrics and just grabbed some odds and ends that I'd put in my paint area for expending paint on brayers and brushes and testing prints. I truly did not care if any of these worked, and so they all mostly did, exciting me more than the prints I'd spent so much time working out. The one in the lower left has been on the design wall for a year, and as I worked on Sway, I thought its colors would work well with the other pieces I'll have in my exhibit. And because it was so small, I trusted I could actually get it done in time.
"Yes. Chance has always been my best assistant." Director Agn├Ęs Varda in Faces Places.

Sway played a part in choosing a border fabric. Frankly, I hadn't decided yet how I would approach this little 10" x 18" uninspiring piece of batik I'd stamped over. But when I put Sway up near it to audition binding fabric and moved a small piece of handdyed fabric from a collection auditioning for something else on another part of the wall to a spot in between the two, I suddenly saw how well it would work as borders for what I was thinking of as "Float". Certainly not enough for Sway binding but would it be enough for "Float"? Just barely; I could cut three 2 inch strips from it, one for each long side and the third cut in half for top and bottom. Close, very close.
“Chance favors the connected mind.” Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

From the get go, this piece had a problem. Because I was just stamping with no real intention, it ended up with nothing going on at the bottom. I've spent months wondering what I could put in there that would look like it belonged with the stamped features. I may have solved the border issue but I hadn't solved how to balance out the bottom. That is, until I was taking a quick look through a basket of batiks for a fabric I've used as piping in the past. Again, it was Sway that led me there, the piece I thought I might add piping to the binding of to spark it up a bit. It was total chance that I saw the leaf batik while fanning through and made the connection that the colors and size of the leaves might work on Float, piling up at the bottom and maybe floating alongside the leaf clusters. I spent some very happy dithering while cutting and arranging.

Top border sewn with a partial seam
I'd been doing math in my head, enough to know that the horizontal border strips would not be long enough to span across the quilt with borders sewn on both sides. Visually, if one is not going to miter a border (and again, not nearly enough fabric here for that) then it's better that the top and bottom borders runs all the way across rather than the sides running all the way to the edges. As I kept playing with the strips for best placement of the fabric color changes, a chance placement reminded me of a block technique that staggers the beginning of each side. The top and bottom border strips were just long enough to span the quilt and one side border, so that became my solution.

You work your way around, each border starting flush with the edge of the quilt and catching the end of the preceding border until you are back to the start where you've left a partial seam. Once the last border strip is sewn, the first strip's seam can be completed.
"More conservative minds deprive coincidence of meaning by treating it as background noise or garbage, but the shape-shifting mind pesters the distinction between accident and essence and remakes this world out of whatever happens." Lewis Hyde, in Trickster Makes This World

And there you have it, a small quilt progressing all by chance, and ready for quilting. This is the most color accurate photo.

Of course, I'd been thinking about using the same dark burgundy thread to quilt around the leaf clusters and lattice as I'd used on others printed with this same color of ink. A little dull and boring but that was all I'd come up with except the possibility of a light green like the batik. It was that leaf batik that showed me there were other options, time to try something different, and here are the threads I pulled for consideration

I was leaning toward the golden browns when I realized I was playing safe again. Yes, I said it again - go bold or go home! The yellow/red variegated King Tut thread won out and is really brightening up the quilt as well as tying in with the rust in the border fabric.

I've started quilting the lattice with the burgundy and it is really doing great things to sharpen up the design. I'm holding off on any more quilting on the leaves until that is all done. Perhaps you can see that faint blue of the print on the batik that is echoed in the batik leaves I fused in place. Depending  on how it looks when all other quilting is done, I may add some blue/green quilting to the leaves. It's a decision I think will be ok to make by chance. 


Living to work - working to live said...

This is going to be a stunning little success. The process you describe feels very familiar. I think this is how I would approach such a project.


The Inside Stori said...

No…not by chance……it’s your years of experience that made this piece so great!!

Chris said...

Considering how well this came out it would seem that we should have chance in all of our pieces! I do like to plan, but sometimes a little thing happens by chance and the piece moves in an entirely new direction. Can’t wait to see it when it’s finished.