Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Ways to Quilt

New Ways to Quilt!

My friend Luke Haynes is not only half my age, but also someone who arrived at quiltmaking from the opposite direction. Whereas I came to quilts by going through an apprenticeship program with older female quilters, who instilled in me a classical notion of learning and interpreting the classics before striking out on my own, Luke started making quilts as part of his art background and only gradually started to learn about the history and techniques of the past. These opposing origins, however, do nothing to keep us from being great admirers of each other's work. I am crazy about Luke's portrait quilts, and he claims to like my abstract compositions.

Recently I was in Seattle and had a chance to spend the day with Luke, a rare chance to visit with a peer and talk about work and life. At some point in the afternoon, we started talking about our insecurities and how hard it would be to try to do what each other did. Being untrained as an artist and constitutionally unfit for starting a quilt where I knew what the ending would look like, I said it would freak me out to try a portrait quilt. Oh yes, he agreed, the idea of working like I do--starting to cut and sew without knowing what the final quilt would look like--freaked Luke out as well.

Ah Hah! Of course, then, we had to try it. The minute I got home I started creating a background for a portrait of Luke. Of course my portrait will be executed with bias tape, unlike his more realistic endeavors. Still, it was stimulating to try something completely new. At first I tried to figure out how to borrow a digital projector and project his image onto the denim so I could trace it and have lines to follow, but then I figured out that I could simply draw his face freehand...that I could draw at least that well.

So, I have been back out on the road for much of the last week, and I will be away much of the coming two weeks, but soon I will have my new pictorial quilt top ready for quilting. Here it is partly sewn, partly pinned and partly just dropped in place. I love trying something scary and new.