Wednesday, September 29, 2010

my design board--making it work

Now don't get me wrong--I love my studio. Sure it's a little squat building slightly off the beaten path. I painted it pink so people could find me. But I do have the best view in town. I can watch the colors change on Massamont. I can admire the graceful arches of the Bridge of Flowers upstream. Isn't that gorgeous?

Inside though the ceilings are short--maybe seven feet tall.  It had been a video store. Before that a fire equipment supply warehouse. It began life as a garage.  But the space is much bigger than it looks. I have my sewing machine in the corner right by the windows--north by northeast light. Can an artist ask for better than that?

Positioned so I can see it from the sewing machine--and also the cutting table--I have my design board.

It was just an old office divider in a solid gold color that I picked it up at a tag sale for $2--couldn't beat the price. I worried that the gold color would be distracting but actually it is a nice contrast to whatever I am working on. The best thing about it is I can just pin the blocks up as I make them. If I want to rearrange them, I can easily move them. If I am thinking which fabric to use, I  drape it over the edge and step back. And it does help divide the space between the finished quilts and the one I am currently making. Such focus is useful.

Now recently I have been working on a big quilt--and by big I mean BIG. 105x105 inches. Much bigger than my design board. This is not the first time I have worked so large so of course I have a strategy. Actually my strategy changes a bit with the design of the quilt.  For this quilt, there is a central focus so I centered the quilt on the board and started working.

As the quilt got too big for the board I wrapped the pieces around to the back. It keeps everything in order. If I need to double check the work, I can easily move the blocks.

Since the colors are logical progressions I can keep in mind what I am doing. When I run out of room at the top I sew the rows together. This means I am not forced to do all the hand finish work at the end--there is only so much hand-sewing I can do in a day anway.  It is easy to take a row off and move the remaining blocks. This is the quilt after a couple of rows have been sewn together.

 This is fine for me--but it does sometimes confuse others. For instance in this case the customer was worried that the contrast between the two halves was too pronounced.  She wanted to make sure there was a lot of blue. After realizing that of course she could not understand my thought process, I showed her a picture of the first three rows pieced together.

Yes I had to put the quilt on the carpet to get a picture of it. But it did give her an idea of what was actually happening and she did think it was wonderful.

Is this ideal--probably not. But it works and I am familiar with it. It does make me want to finish the quilt so that I can finally see it as a whole. Frequently this happens first when I have its photograph taken.  And you--what do you use as a design board? What interesting adjustments have you made to your work space.

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