Friday, December 17, 2010

questions, questions, questions and pillows

OK--I bet you are wondering--how can pillows actually be a question? After all they are just pillows.  Soft splashes of color--a decorative finish to the room. I wake up at five in them morning and envision a new design for a pillow--lots of small strips of color so that the whole becomes a color field.  Almost woven in effect. Using the commercial cottons that I love but with pieces so tiny the fabrics almost disappear into the whole.

Now I used to make pillows years ago--silk and wool pillows that were a changing color field. They were great pillows, plumb and friendly,  and I still have customers coming back years later asking for more. But I got bored--after all I am a quilt maker and not a pillow maker. And the silk would easily disintegrate in bright sunlight. Not a good marketing plan.

I need new pillows for my studio--the display spaces are there and they make the showroom more inviting. It would be nice to have another item for customers when I do a craft show. I have a friend who could sit at her booth for days just to sell a few large quilts. Endlessly opening and displaying the quilts, listening to the dreams of her customers while waiting. What patience. What confidence in her work. How exhausting!

Oh that is not me. I like my instant gratification. I want to have sales--people in my booth buying.  That's why I make potholders and placemats. Table runners. I have been playing in my mind with the concept of really tiny strips to create complex color fields. There is so much I could do with it. Simple statements in fabric. I can see them if I can make them. However, I don't want to spend time making pillows when I could be creating quilts. I feel that I am closer than ever to having my quilts taken more seriously. I almost blush to recall being told that my quilts are indeed art by a critic I respect. Will pillows cause me to divert my attention or are they the next step forward?

But I am getting ahead of myself. First I have to try to make the pillows--see if they work. See if I want to make them.  I cut many strips of thin fabric. The color palette.

Sew them onto the back with a layer of cotton batting. There are oh so many seams--it takes forever. Can I speed this up?

Square it off, add a zipper and finish the pillow. I wish it was as simple as it sounds. I remember how many steps there are to making pillows.  Show it to a friend of mine--she is polite. Nice she says, good color field. Maybe I need more. I think of other colors. I do like it better with a binding that accents the colors.

Hmm. Need to work on the piecing. It tends to go askew. What will it look like when I add more colors? Is that the key? Will that be the "fun" part of making them?  Can I make them at a price I can sell them?  Should I have the binding of a consistent color on color print? Would that tie the series together?  I think of other designs in this series--is that what I should do? Oh so many questions. And I don't even know if I want to make these yet.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend of mine years ago. David Bacharach--a wonderful metal worker. He said that if you start selling a new product as a mature artist you have to have confidence in it. Great point. I'll have to think about it. Luckily I can make some for the studio and just stop there if I want. They do look great against the wall hangings.

So what do you think? Do you like the pillows? Am I wasting my time?  Will having more colors make it look like a more complete idea? Should I work on other ideas for the pillows? And you--how do you create new designs?


  1. Lovely pillows. I think the possibilities are endless as far as color combos go. And you won't know if they're a success unless you try it. Good luck!

  2. We like the narrow lines, which give almost a woven look. If askew is a problem, we are wondering if foundation lines can be traced on the backing, for use as a guide. We like the contrasting borders (no border at all might be nice too). Thank you for this interesting post.

  3. I enjoy making piecing pillows (some one else can enjoy the actual construction of the pillow itself). I use them to test ideas, stretch myself, go places I wouldn't go on more formal work. Sometimes, great ideas are the result, always some lower priced work to sell.
    By the way, congratulations on being a Niche 2011 finalist.

  4. Thanks everyone. Terri, I agree that the possibilities for the colors are endless--so many I want to make. Yes, I am using foundation lines--straight seams have never been my forte but getting better. Thanks Yasmin for the kind words.