Any color as long as it is black!

The other day a friend said, “What have you been up to in that studio of yours?…or maybe I should look at your blog and see for myself?” WHAT blog?, I thought–I had completely forgotten that I even had one! Perhaps the time has come for an update.

It is always a surprise when a random discovery sends you off in a new direction. Months ago, I happened upon a three part You Tube demonstration of curvy-line quilting by Alicia Merrett (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUQ38B0AJMA&list=PL1FE52F4D79665ADC&index=9) which clearly explains how to piece irregular shapes so they lie flat when sewn together. I have always been drawn to the more spontaneous types of quilting, but had no idea how to make the puzzle pieces fit together. Here is the secret! Go watch Alicia and find out for yourself…

I have lots of little scraps from discharge-dyeing experiments, and thought a curvy quilt sample would put them to good use. Here is my first try:

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Being able to make the shapes part of the structure, rather than appliqueing them on top, was a revelation to me. What’s next?…

I always liked painting on fabric, but it is hard to get a line that is not too halting–or one not so paint-charged that it leaves a gummy surface when it dries. Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan’s excellent book Making your Mark describes several ways of monoprinting on fabric which are a good alternative to direct painting. In my favorite method, you paint on a sheet of plastic, flip it over, and transfer your image by rubbing it with the back of a spoon or a squeegee. I like the mysterious but spontaneous marks, and the likelihood of a surprise or two! In my next exercise, I pieced some curvy shapes out of natural cotton to print on. After enjoying the white on white stage, I found the newly monoprinted surface discouragingly airless and heavy…

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but wow! what about that REVERSE side! –the open seams and the bits of ink that had seeped through from the front seemed much more interesting.

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After adding more curvy scraps of painted fabric to the edges, here is how it looks. I like the contrast between the open seams in the central section, and  the closed ones in the background…at first I finished the piece with polite edges, but then felt nostalgic for the raw look, and ripped the edges back open!

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Meanwhile one day on a walk, I had found an interesting old license plate, flattened and weathered, and brought it back to my studio. While my attention was elsewhere on curvy lines, it was doing its work on my subconscious, and before long I noticed with amusement that I was steamrollering and creasing my own materials!…

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..tacking them down to a backing, and monoprinting over the whole assemblage.

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And these are what I have been mostly doing recently, with more in the works. Sometimes when the folded parts with double or triple thickness are a bit bulgy, I stitch them down to the backing with scribbly sewing machine lines. This flattens them, while adding yet another interesting linear element…

In a word, one thing leads to the next in the most absorbing way– at least till the “wave” hits the shore, and we have to start all over again, wondering what to do next. Meanwhile there is no happier state, is there, than on a roll in the studio!…

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