If asked my favorite quilt, I would have to respond that I have two favorites: the one I’m working on and the one I’m planning.
Yesterday I finished quilting a piece I started several months ago in a class. Quilting is what I’ve been doing this past week, as I have several that need to get done. Admittedly, quilting is not my favorite task. It seems tedious and stressful to me. I primarily like creating. Yes, I know I could send my quilts out to be quilted. I do not do free motion quilting, probably because when I have tried it, I am extremely critical of my work and that is what I try to avoid—self-criticism. I do linear stitches and grids, which at first I’m highly critical about—until several days later—then upon review, it seems the right thing and can’t imagine swirls and loops in place of my lines and grids.
That being said, this week I finished quilting two quilts that I sort of feel were a series only because I did more than one with something of a general theme. Several months ago I downloaded some public domain photos the Government made available. The photos were mostly Depression-era photos, but primarily Dorothea Lange’s work. The photos I was familiar with always engaged and moved me so I wanted to see what I could do with them in a quilt. Evidently I had three quilts in me—two of which I just finished and the first I sold as soon as it was completed. It’s the most recent one I have chosen to discuss.
I created the quilt in a Rosalie Dace class and because I had just finished constructing quilt #2—Dorothea’s Faces (Figure 1)—and had the box of fabrics sitting around when it was time for the class, I used those fabrics. This particular class emphasized the use of alternative materials, and I used a variety in this quilt. So I ended up incorporating what I considered some unusual items and the results of a couple of exercises in the quilt.
I think of these quilts as narrative quilts, and my goal is to engage the viewer (including me) into looking more closely at the story. The quilt I’m discussing (Figure 2) is called “Fractured Families,” and I hope it reflects pathos. But I digress. With the back story complete, on with the discussion!
1. Strengths. I have good feelings about this piece, and since I just completed it (well, sans facing), as I suggested in my opening paragraph, it is one of my two favorites. I think it works, and color placement moves the eye. The photos create interest, and I think that the use of various papers and collage work add interest and a bit of texture. I like adding bits and pieces of photos or even traditional piecing such as triangles and log cabin work to add variety.
2. Perfection. This quilt is far from what someone might think of as perfect, but it is, in my mind, perfect for me. I say that because I crossed a bridge on this one and based on encouragement from Rosalie, I not only used alternative materials but used alternative methods for construction—giving me parts that are totally offset, random, and I believe interesting stitches—which has been a goal of mine: create in a way that seems unplanned and unpredictable and is—at this point—my own form of perfection.
3. Weaknesses. I tend to think of my quilting as a weakness—until I am finished with the project and it soaks in for a few days. So that is why I do my own quilting I suppose—because I get the look and feel I want from the lines and grids I use. What I need to practice with is lines that seem “wilder” and more random and criss-cross like because that is the thing I like most about this piece is how I attached some of the fabrics and papers with multiple lines.
4. What I’m good at. I think I’m good at the effective use of color and have a good sense of composition—well, most of the time. I have developed (I believe) my own voice and have something of a “style” that I comfortable with, although I tend to always feel I’m on the verge of getting where I want to be artistically. I’m also decent at creating strong and interesting digital designs and that tends to be a favorite and relaxing way to spend studio time.
Although I appreciate a “perfectly” constructed quilt, that is not me, and my idea of perfection is to reflect flaws and imperfection. I call is “messy” but I know that’s a value judgment, but I’m not sure of a better term other than random, unplanned, or unpredictable. Those are the things for which I strive to accomplish in each quilt I’m making these days—but with the full knowledge that it can change with the next creation!