Friday, March 12, 2010

Does Your Quilting Support Your Ideas?



Work in Progress
approx. 16" w x 21" h


My blog entry for today is a simple piece touching on the topic of quilting, the actual stitching of at least two layers of fabric (or other material) together.

When I first began to quilt I tried my hand at hand quilting and used very traditional quilt patterns. As my work developed and I realized my quilt work was going to become my artwork, I began to see that these traditional patterns carried with them the history of quilt making in exactly the same way as traditional patterns of piecing did and they did not apply or support my work.

Next I began to learn the difficult skill of machine quilting. It has been a real journey for me and I have experimented with all kinds of techniques, thread types, various machines and ultimately discovered that most often simple straight line quilting most supports my ideas. Notice I say supports.

Here is an example of my quilting on a large composition.




Passion
This piece has been selected for Artist As Quiltmaker 2010




I have used multiple colors of rayon thread which enrich the overall color and complexity of the piece as well as creating a rich surface texture. It enhances the piece but does not overpower the composition or become the first thing you notice. In this example you an see that thread colors do not always run across the entire face of the fabric so there is an additional plane of pattern which lays on top of the primary composition. I often use rayon thread as it adds a nice shine and the color range is excellent. In most cases I choose to use solids colored thread. On occasion I do use variegated thread but I have to be very careful. If it is a type of thread where the color changes are very regular, it creates a unwanted moire' pattern which possibly does not happen when you quilt with complex patterns. The straight lines are also a nice counterpoint to the soft contours of the large shapes. Had I overlaid this piece with a more complex quilt line, because of the broad expanses of fabric, the quilting would have taken center stage and that is not what I want.




detail of composition with variegated thread


This example not only shows the moire' pattern I spoke of but the actual color changes in this thread were not a good choice. It is distracting and becomes too important visually.



For the piece pictured at the top of this page, I choose to use a variegated thread from Aurifil's line which is called Acquarelli. This small collection of threads are variegated but not in a regular repeat and it works beautifully for my straight lines. Below is a detail and up close you can see where the colors change but it does not create a pattern. This is a beautiful line of threads and I would love to see them add to this collection.






detail of work in progress


I have seen beautiful, sophisticated compositions ruined through poor choices of quilt lines most often lines that just don't relate to what the artist has created. I suggest using your computer to 'test drive' line work or create a small test piece. Over time you will begin to get a feel for what works for you and supports your art best.


Thank you for visiting studio 24-7 and I love hearing from you. Monday I will be presenting Nancy Natale and her excellent encaustic work. Hope to see you then.







16 comments:

  1. Great post and I really like "Passion", great depth of color. I've always machine quilted my work until lately and now I'm exploring using hand stitching to add another dimension, I'm loving the texture it adds.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for bringing to my attention something that I needed to hear. I am going to try to be more intentional in thread choice and the use in my quilting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for an interesting post. This is something I am working out on my own work. It is a difficult thing to figure out! But your idea of suppporting your work makes sense. I am going to look into that thread too-thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you to each of you. It's sort of funny that the very thing, quilting, that our work is referred to as, is often not as well thought out as other parts of the composition. I believe it is because we sometimes don't think about it until the end and it becomes a secondary rather than primary consideration.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Today you've touched on one of the things that challenges me the most about stitching a quilt: thread pattern and thread color choice. Rarely, I feel, do I manage to tell the story I want to tell in stitch, because my thread and stitching choices are poor. I know it's all part of the learning process, but I sure wish I was past this particular stage... it's a little frightening and stoppers up my muse.

    I wish I could study your pieces up close... there's so much there to learn from.

    Thanks for this post, Terry.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you Judi. I'm not sure everyone knows this but if you will click on the pictures, they will enlarge....as in huge! I appreciate your interest and suggest you make lots of small samples of quilting using your various threads. Try things you think you will like and try things that seem totally strange. This kind of exercise can strengthen your confidence in your ideas and save the agony of ruining a beautiful piece. Chow and thanks for commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  7. couldn't agree more! I've always felt that the quilting should relate to the other elements in the design and not be some imported "pattern" having no significance other than displaying the machine skills of the maker. this is true of so many art and craft media: everything about the piece should be true to the piece and not extraneous in any way. And I so agree about the variegated thread - looks great on the spool or in the ball of yarn...but sew with it or knit it and these horrid stripey patterns appear!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Could you explain how you use the computer to 'test drive' line work? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have taken pictures of work which I then transferred to my computer and drew on. I have a small digitizer pad which is great for this as it uses a stylus. Another idea would be to draw the linework you are thinking of on paper, scan the paper, scale to the size you like and overlay it on the image of your work. While it certainly is not a perfect comparison, it does give you some additional information on which you can make a decision. Thank you for commenting Penny.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I actually LOVE how that variegated thread looks on the green/brown piece. I think it is a wonderful design element...BUT I do see how it is distracting if it doesn't fit with your piece.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you Katherine. In the little detail the thread variegation doesn't look too bad but if you saw the entire piece you might feel differently. I didn't post the entire image because I don't like it. The thread pattern creates a very strong pattern all across the piece and it is too much. Thank you very much for your comment.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree an all over pattern like that would probably be rather boring...I like the look of a variety of patterns across a large quilt.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'll clarify...I like a variety of patterns if it contributes to the over all look. A strong graphic design like you have in Passion does not need a variety of patterns in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I often collage my line work for that very reason. So I make sure it really works with the piece.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Katherine, I understand. That is exactly the point. Many patterns, or curly patterns, or leafy patterns etc. would not be in synch with my work so I limit what I do (especially on larger pieces) to straight line stitching. If more complex quilting worked for me I would use that. I have done very intense layers of quilting on some smaller pieces and love the results but have not attempted that on any of the larger work. Thank you for your comments.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you Leslie. I love the idea of collaged line work. I'm not sure how to execute that concept with my work but I love the thought of it. Actually, maybe just putting everything together, including the stitching, is collage. Yes, I think it is.

    ReplyDelete