Thursday, April 24, 2008

My life through scissors?

This is my most recent piece. It followed directly from the green study below, which pleased me because I like the idea of making a series.

It’s about 1m x 1.2m. It was originally supposed to be orientated the other way but I decided it looked better like this, kind of like a sunset over the sea.

My disappointment is that it is very obvious to see the natural way my arm moves as I cut the fabric slices. You can definitely see the curve caused by my right-handedness, even though I was attempting to keep the cuts more or less parallel to the edges. During the cutting process I realised what was happening and rotated the fabric through180 degrees to try and counteract the curve effect, (see the right side below) but it just made it more obvious. The curving is the main reason that I turned the quilt round so the lines were horizontal – somehow it doesn’t look as bad.

After fretting about the right-handed bending I realised that I should try and embrace this human defect. After all, if I wanted everything straight then I could use a ruler! Surely the point about making art is that it is product of me, and only me. No-one else could replicate what I have made because no-one else will move their arm in exactly the same way I do. The quilt had become a permanent record of the way my body reacts to the fabric and scissors. The cut lines will be affected by my moods, my tensions, even my temperature!

I am working quite hard to try and find my artistic voice. I will be happy when people can look at my work and say ‘ oh yes I can tell Rachel made that.’ Slowly a voice is emerging I think, especially in the stuff I’ve made recently. What is especially weird is that I painted a huge painting about 5 years ago using palette knives, and I’ve realised that it looks very like this quilt in composition, so maybe my voice has always been there, just waiting to pop out!

Anyway, enough waffle. I am at work and should be designing a bowling alley, not writing rubbish about my arm reacting to fabric to create the sublime – what nonsense!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Small quilt studies

One of the things we did a lot at the Nancy Crow workshop last year was create lots of small ‘sketches’ in fabric, to test out compositions and ideas. I had never done this before but it is definitely something that suits me.

Since then I have made quite a lot of smaller studies to try out new things. Many of these are frankly pants, but the odd one or two have turned out really well and I’ve gone onto finish them into completed pieces in their own right.

This one is about 60 cm x 40cm. I have been mainly designing using line since the workshop. This was a quilt where I tried to restrict myself colour-wise in order to concentrate on the composition of the lines and the actual construction.

Unfortunately it hasn’t photographed well at all. There are tons of slivers of fabric that make up what appears to be a slab of plain green, and then really dense quilting lines in lots of shades of green thread. I guess any quiltmaker will know that photographing such a tactile, 3 dimensional media is difficult, and trying to do so in artificial light with a shaky little camera is not the best way to go about it!

Thankfully the making of small studies has paid off, and this quilt has spawned 2 other much larger ones. I will show you one of these tomorrow. Anyway, I am quite attached to this little number. It is small and unassuming, and panders to my ongoing love affair with the colour green.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Floating block quilts

Ok, so here is a piece I made about a year ago, but only finished quilting it over the Christmas holidays. I was having issues with the time it was taking, and put out a plea for help, which was answered in this post. Well, I finally completed it!

You can probably tell it’s similar to the other floating block designs I was doing last year, like this one:

And this one.

I also made an enormous king sized bed quilt along this theme, but I sold it before taking a photo which was a bit silly. It was lovely, with purples, dusky pinks and muted oranges, and a tiny window of japanese cherry blosson fabric in the centre of each block. Reading that combination it sounds gross, but it wasn't. It was to be a wedding present for someone - I hope there is lots of action going on under it!

All these quilts use the same principle – a square with border down 2 sides which is then rotated to form interesting relationships with the neighbouring block. Of the 3 quilts I’ve made using this idea I like the Japanese one best because the fabrics are so beautiful, and the lines are all wonky. The blue and orange one has really nice dense quilting lines all over it which is the way I’ve quilted all my pieces in the last year.

Monday, April 21, 2008

New quilts to show and tell

Hi y'all! I thought I'd return from my little holiday absence with news of my latest artistic exploits for your delectation. It's been ages since I posted any new quilts, but that's not to say I haven't been making them. No Sir-ee, I just haven't been photographing them!

This quilt is based on a doodle I made during a long work phone call. By the end of the conversation I had covered a whole sheet in these little patterns with black stops-ends top and bottom. Sometimes I think there is an obvious architectural influence in the pattern, and other times it looks very organic to me, like fish bones, or leaf skeletons.

I really love geometrical patterns (which is probably why I was drawn to quilt making in the first place) but I also love to cut my fabric freehand - never using a ruler - in order to make a break from the rigidity that would spoil this very simple design. Cutting and sewing fabric pieces with curves takes much much longer than straight edged pieces, but it's worth it.

I am pleased with this quilt. It's quiet and restful and simple. (and possibly a little more green than the picture shows.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I hate Bikini Shopping

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