The purpose of this blog is share with others the processes involved in my favorite form of creativity- silk art quilts. The creative process itself is a fascinating thing. I am constantly amazed by it- both its simplicity and its complexity.

I feel strongly that I am a better person since I truly started following my dream. Because of collectors--those who actually buy original art-- I am able to live my dream. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can see more of my work at my website http://www.rebelquilter.com/.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Visions of plenty

This is the preliminary sketch of my newest quilt. It moves from Turkey red in the top left through eggplant in the mid range to tobacco brown in the lower right. There are flashes of golden yellow throughout. It is going to be QUITE large. The vertical height will be about 8 ft and the width somewhere between 15-18 ft. It'll be broken down into5-6 panels.

This is the stack of cut blocks and circles for applique. Rather daunting, huh? It is over 300 blocks so you are looking at 600+ layers of fabric stacked up-- from bridal silk satin to cotton flannel-- all except a few metallics are hand dyed. That yellow piece is one of the metallic fabrics of the "flash". The first round of stitching took over 5 hours--that's at 1 minute per block-- which is about right. Next step is to cut a smaller circle out of the square from the underside. That in itself will take another 5-6 hours. Then onto round 2.

But before I stack the pieces up for round 2 I will take about 10% of the next group of circles and stamp them with metallic x's. This will add a limited amount of additional texture and interest to an otherwise image free area.

Why am I doing this huge piece? To make sure I have evidence that I can truly work "large."
I hope that I'll be able to find ways to exhibit it as well as eventually sell it. Do you know a venue that needs a really large piece? 8ft x 18ft? Hey! It is still early in the process-- it could be 12 x 12 or 6 ft x 24ft. . We're looking at 144sq ft. Want it bigger? Get hold of me NOW!

My plan is to very tightly quilt the surface with color blends and flashes--many, many different patterns. Oh for a long arm! My plan has been to buy a longarm when I get a commission to do a very large piece. But in the meantime, I'll break it down into about 5-6 panels like I did with my previous triptychs ( Ridgeline: Afterglow & Burning Leaves)

See? Finally, Pictures!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

a deep breath

The last month has been one of hope, anticpation and wait. I haughtily anticipated receiving the acceptence letter from Fiber Focus and having the pleasure of a face to face conversation with the Juror. It was not to be.

I had recently jumped off in a new direction of work, walking that tight rope of self-doubt and exhiliaration, stepping into pathways not yet followed by me. That in itself is a scary place to be. To make matters even tougher, I had made a point of getting the work done in muliples so that I had a "body of work" AND was presenting it to the juror I most wanted to see my work. YIKES!

I KNOW better than to invest so much energy into hope. I've been there! I've done that! It doesn't pay, it doesn't help and it certainly doesn't feel good when the anticipation meets disappointment. You'd think after 5 years of doing art festivals where the operating basis had become- lower your expectations- I'd and back off and not tangle up so much emotional energy.

But in my arrogance I had actually thought my work had reached a point where I felt secure in presenting it and having it be well received. Just so you know-- so far the public reception of my new work has been great. But back to my issue--disappoinment. I personally think there is real value in having a severe reality check every once in a while. Not often- but occasionally.

In case you haven't figured it out-- I didn't get into the exhibition. But rejection has its purposes. I've really gotten stronger along the way. And I think that people who know me well, appreciate the fact my head isn't on a contiunual unabated expansion. I KNOW I have a large ego. To my dismay I find there is a competitive edge to me as well. (To my defense in that realm- I have several relatives who have competed internationally in the olympic games. Is there a competitive gene?)

When I step back from my immediate disappointment and look back at my big picture, I remember that I am first creating work that pleases me. The only time I am disappointed in my work is if I have allowed myself to be lead astray for a commission that doesn't at least echo the style I've developed. But if I am scratching my own itch first-- then allow it to be presented for critiquing and judgement, I am at least starting from a point of satisfaction.

While I do allow myself to simply follow a path of exploration, I generally do so with at least an eye for my bigger goals and targets. I don't want to wander so far afield that I look back 6 months from now and wonder how I got so far off path. Even while exploring the new printing techniques, or even doing marbling--I do so within the 7" square format so that it could be incorporated into my existing 7" bulls eye block. I have recently been playing with some new silk screens. Guess what size I am printing most of it on? Yep! 7". I have also been playing with thickened dyes. Oh my! They are so luscious to use! ( I know--where are the pictures? I'll get there. But not today.)

But what new project lures me like an illicit romance? My latest quilt started with the arrival of new dyes--Turkey Red and Eggplant. I did a morph of those colors using 7 gradations. For each coloration I used fat quarters of silk broadcloth, cotton broadcloth, bridal weight silk satin, silk noil and cotton flannel. I was delighted with ithe results. BTW- the silk just doesn't take the blue in the eggplant as deeply as does the cotton. I know I should have taken a photo of the fabrics before I started cutting them up. Next time...

Then I got out my colored pencils and sketched out a gradation from the turkey red through to the eggplant and onto a deep brown. Flashes of a bright golden yellow would pop up occasionallly. Wow! I liked that!

So then I did a morph of eggplant to tobacco brown. Again yum! Plus, again, the blue in the dyes isn't as well absorbed in the silks--so the color variations from silk to cotton are remarkable.

Where is all this going? B_I_G!!!!!I have cut out over 300 blocks and circles and begun my largest piece yet. Finished this piece could be 8 ft tall by 18 ft wide. Don't worry-- I wouldn't consider doing it all in one piece ( unless it was a comission and I had a longarm machine to do it on).

Now why is it like an illicit romance? Because I am still struggling with an unfinished commission-- I am actually nearly done with it. But I am only allowing myself a short while each day to work on it until I finish the commission. It is the reward I am teasing myself with for catching up with parts of my life that have fallen WAY off the normal time track of life.

Since I started caring for my ageing parents and went on the road 5 years ago doing art festivals my life has been in overwhelm. So this month I am addressing those issues. Well at least most of them. Everything from sales tax reports, to income tax, to transferring my father's assets, to finishing the kitchen I started remodeling 4 years ago-- all need attention.

But there is NO way I'd completely walk away from work in my studio. If I did I'd find I had forgotten who I was for a while. I've done it before and no doubt I'll have to do it again sometime. But at this point it would take a major event to prevent me from making time in my studio a fairly high priority for me.

The other thing I've been working on is getting the front part of my studio in shape to be a small gallery. I'm delighted with how it is beginning to look... photos soon!

Let's go back and get 'em!