Monday, 14 July 2014

Improve It or Wreck It

Some of you may know that Dianne and I signed up to Jane Dunnewold's online Artist Strength Training course.  It has just finished.  One of the assignments was to take an existing piece of work and either improve it or wreck by moving it forward.

I chose a piece I had done years ago as an exercise in a course with June Barnes and Leslie Morgan. It is based on spiral staircases, balustrades, curves, etc.  The funny blurs of yellow and green are supposed to be propeller moving up and down (groan!).

I have long wanted to add paint to a quilt so I thought this is it.  My chance to have a go.

 First I painted black acrylic with a paint brush.

Then I created a mono print echoing the curved lines in the ochre paint.  I loved the way the original quilted lines stood out together with the mono printed lines.  So far so good but I felt this was only part way there. It had no focus.

Going back to the original curves and circles I thought to add some on top.  The white circle was too stark so I added some little green stamped circles - too insignificant.  So I painted some of them in - still too stark and while the large O has some relationship to the lines the little circles do not.

As a last resort I ironed black Misty fuse over the top - bad move!  This idea is going nowhere.

Finally I cut holes in the quilt and satin stitched the edges.  I then stitched out little vignettes repeating the circles and curved lines on sheer organza and have attached them behind the holes.  

Strangely this project has reflected quite accurately where I was all those years ago, quite traditional, and where I am today - far more contemporary and interested in incorporating embroidery and paint into my work.

I am delighted with the piece; I don't feel I have wrecked it.  It may not be a master piece but I had a LOT of fun doing it.


PS  I am working on my grey challenge - promise!  It is a Challenge - with a capital C.

Dis-lo-ca-tion [Noun} - detail

There were two thermofax screens from different dictionaries.  The images overlap and blur I'm afraid - words too small?  I also didn't want them to fight for attention.  Yours truly is not very good at screen printing and using four colours and two screens meant I lost control of getting the screens evenly spread across the fabric.  Typical!
Straight parallel vertical lines of quilting - I felt that anything else would distract from the words.

Thanks for kind words,


News update

I have just heard that my piece, Dis-lo-ca-tion [Noun], has been juried into the Contemporary Quilt exhibition at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK, this year.  This year's inspiration was the word Dislocation.  At first all I could think of were dislocated shoulders and refugees.  Then I remembered the research by Cambridge University into the fact that no matter what order the letters in a word were as long as the first and last were in the right place our brains can read the text.  This seemed to fill the definition of something 'being out of place'.  It was a long journey from the concept to the final quilt being photographed!

Dis-lo-ca-tion [Noun]

My first thought was to free machine the outlines of the letters and fill in the outline with paint. Then I realised the letters would be only 1" high and I am not steady enough to do it well.   I had considered using my embroidery unit but it is tricky lining up different hoopings and there would have been many in this piece.  I thought about stencils and stamps but couldn't find any the right size.  Then a friend offered to use her new Silhouette Cameo digital cutting machine to cut them out or me!  These machines take your original design data from a computer and convert it into cutting lines.  You can then feed in sheets of fabric which the blade will cut. This seemed like a gift from heaven.  I sent her a sample sheet of fabric with Heat 'n Bond Ultra fused on the back and it came back perfect!  Off went all the different coloured fabric sheets only to come back with lots of thread whiskers.  Poor Jan, it's a new machine and unfortunately I don't live close enough to be able to pop over and work through the problem.  I do believe these machines have potential.

So, in the end I bit the bullet and paid to have them laser cut.  I have to say it isn't cheap but you get a brilliant result.  The firm I dealt with up in Scotland are used to dealing with fashion and fabrics and they were excellent at every step of the way.

The background has been screen printed with dictionary definitions of the word Dislocation.

What I found surprising was how hard it was to spell words incorrectly and because of this I actually 'misspellt' three words by leaving letters out!

This isn't a major piece of work and it certainly doesn't have any 'wow' factor but I hope it will keep visitors amused (much as my Straplines did last year).  It measures 120cm x 50cm (48" x 20").


PS  Because I made a pig's ear of the facing by getting the quilt front off-centre, I was reduced to having to satin stitch around the edge and chamfer the corners because I trimmed the seam allowances before checking.  Big Mistake!