Friday, May 4, 2012

Halfway Home
Thinking of my first experience with an actual image--my house quilt called "1871"--I had the idea that I could maybe try another quilt with a recognizable image, or a series of them. The idea that came up for me immediately was this sort of road with skeleton-like figures working their way along it, like my long line of the road of a bunch of ants or something. I don't know exactly what. But the idea fit my way of working, so I stuck with it.

What I mean is that this is how I like to work: I have a vague idea of how something might look. In this case, "a sort of road with little figures all along it." Then I started in by creating a meandering line. I let the line create itself by starting with a length of bias tape and just sewing it down until I reached the end. At the end, I built a little stick figure. Then another and another. Each figure is a new composition, another challenge to find the right pose, the right proportions and etc. After a while they seemed to take on lives of their own, more or less telling me what to do next.

In this way I did not have to plan each detail, but rather to discover each detail...I like to find out what the quilt will look like by making it.

"This is all well and good," you might say, "But what if you don't like what it looks like when you are done?" Fair question. The fact is sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. But I don't have to like something to like it! That is, I am always surprised by some aspect of the finished quilt. On this one I see that the large negative space in the middle is going to be a lot more significant than I thought, so I will have to contend with that with the right approach to quilt designs. Okay. It gives me a new challenge and it sparks a new direction of thought. That is what I am looking for here: new directions of thought.

So it is in doing the actual work that I find the new ways, the new means. The work is not an expression of what I have discovered elsewhere.

I have been held up for a couple of days by my need to prep more materials. I have to cut the many small bits of bias, then fold and glue the ends so they don't ravel. Now I have them and I can tackle my next crew of figures. It looks to me like I am about halfway to the end. See you there.

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