Monday, January 17, 2011

the quilt begins to crystallize

Quilts always seem to have a life of their own. How do they come into being? How do I decide which quilt to make? There are so many ideas floating in my mind. Some I sketch and re-sketch for years before I finally see how to make them. Some are custom orders that I puzzle and re-puzzle to try to meet the dreams of the customer. And some just seem to happen. Like a good jazz piece. A design, a concept and then they happen. I wake up in the morning and get a vision of the piece. The time is right--it is no good to envision a new piece when I have an order to finish. If I do, I quickly sketch it out. I may or may not return to it.

As Anne Truitt says in her wonderful  Daybook (Pages 94-95): "These concepts hover, already complete, it would seem at the edge of my consciousness." She admits less than a quarter of her concepts will ever be made. How reassuring that is to read.

Right now I want a new quilt for the Baltimore Show at the end of February--a quilt that will surprise me, a quilt that will make my booth unforgettable at Baltimore. I have been thinking of the power of my grey landscapes. These long spaces that seem to have a mystery and rhythm to them. I am intrigued by the piecing and order of these quilts. Reading about Eva Hesse recently, I have been thinking about repetition.

This time I can see the rhythm of the piece. The basic design. The colors are at the edge of my perception. This is a piece that does have a purpose--a customer--my booth. I love the greys of the runners but for my booth I want more color. More power. I figure out the measurements. Spread out the colors I want to use. I want a color gradation. Arrange and rearrange the colors of the fabric. This time I just make notes with the fabric themselves and leave it as reference by my cutting table. I can play with it more later.

I start. Oh the little blocks are so small. Is the color strong enough? Will it just look mushy? I worry. Experiment. Make some more blocks. A long row for the bottom of the quilt. Don't they look lonely down there?

How to change it? What comes next. Again more experiments. Keep piecing I tell myself. Trust myself. Hmm--what do you think? How can I go from the plums to more rose--will it work? Is this quilt too strong? How will it look when it is sewn together? I take more pictures. Cut more fabric. Keep sewing.

In the morning when my cat wakes me up--her food dish is empty she says. She wants to make sure I know. It is too early. I try to picture the quilt in my mind. So many decisions I will have to make along the way. Today I hope to make the next row. A lighter green--can I get the colors right. How much tan to include? Decisions decisions decisions.

I keep piecing. Keep trusting myself. So what do you think?  How do you decide what quilt to make? I am impatient to see the quilt--to see if it will work. Does that happen to you?


  1. Oh, the joys of adventure in the creative process!

  2. It is fun isn't it Nellie. And thanks for following my blog--I am honored.