Each year I try to look back at what I had hoped to accomplish with my quilting, what I actually did, and how I feel about it. After Elizabeth Barton’s master class in 2016 I was eager to get back to improv, so I began 2017 with three improv pieces drawn from my scraps. One of those is shown below.
Following that palette cleanser I returned to some work I began in 2016 and finished a few serious pieces.
My dyeing/painting workshop in June left me with a better understanding of more sophisticated ways to dye than the plastic baggie method, but I realized that it helps to have an end product in mind. Flinging dye on fabric takes you just so far. Score one for Elizabeth Barton. I used the least appealing of the fabrics I made in two tops which haven’t yet been quilted. The rest of my fabrics await the right project.
Next, I began my Nancy (Crow) series and have almost completed four pieces. I certainly had planned nothing like them, but they grew out of a short play session on Nancy’s way of piecing. Too late I remembered the caveats about working with all solids and what a pain white fabric can be. I think I have solid fabrics out of my system for a while, and out of my scraps.
Throughout the year I made what I call sketches and challenge pieces, like Baby’s In Black for a Beatles’ song challenge.
You can see all my finished work for the year on the “My Quilts – 2015 On” page.
I concentrated on using what fabrics I had on hand, though of course I bought new ones, especially larger pieces for backs. (Hello, I’m Snarky and I’m a fabric addict.) Hancocks of Paducah has great sales (like $5 a yard) on fabrics ideal for second fiddle status.
When I got tired of sewing I pulled out stencils, stamps, and paints, and added more surface layers to cloth. This can lead me to projects designed around the cloth, rather than the other way around. It’s great fun, but may not result in work that transcends its media.
Right now I have three designs in process for a bullseye quilt challenge. I didn’t expect to finish them in 2017, but that’s OK.
In mid December I made a pillow cover out of brightly printed scraps as an antidote to all those solids. I used up most of my 1.5 inch half square triangles that were bonuses from snowball blocks. So I ended the year as I began – with my scraps.
On the minus side of 2017, I spent a lot of time on a large improv piece that to date is a failure. It uses many fabrics I designed and is an attempt to interpret a Paul Klee painting. I think I can improve it, but haven’t yet figured a clear path forward. The background structure is in place, but it needs more – of something. It looms large on my 2018 to do list. Aside from the Klee piece I made no attempts to begin a serious piece that aspires to be art. Also, I didn’t follow through on my resolve to sketch out my work in advance. It happened for a few pieces, but not that many.
I like to see 2017 as a year of synthesis between detailed planning and winging it. I naturally work improvisationally because it’s just fun, but have realized a piece needs the backbone of a plan. Lack of a plan was the downfall of my Klee piece. So lately I’ve been creating improvisational units as a starting point, then developing a plan to use the units. I resist detailed plans because once the piece is all planned out I often have no interest in repeating it in fabric. In my mind it’s done. It’s why I haven’t pursued quilt design software. Maybe I’ll do a plan for every other piece in 2018.
For 2018 I want to work more with photographs, and will be taking an online course in using Photoshop Elements. After all, I need to put my weekly photos to use. I don’t have many big carryover projects, so I need to get busy devising some.
In surface design, I want to play with gelli plate monoprinting and cyanotype printing. Last year’s birthday bounty included a pack of cyanotype treated fabric squares, which I want to print with crocheted and tatted pieces I’ve inherited. That project will have to wait for milder weather, but I can begin the monoprinting any time, or any time after I clear off my work table. I have a stack of fabrics that need more oomph, so they’ll be my first
I plan to spend more time looking at art in general, rather than confine myself to quilted art. So many museums have put their collections online it’s easy to ogle art from home. Of course it’s not the same as seeing work in person, but it’s better than nothing. My local art museum offered a year’s free membership, which I signed up for, so maybe trips there will spark ideas.
Some housekeeping is in order in 2018. I need to find new homes for my work. My husband and I negotiate which of my pieces will hang in our home. He’s a traditionalist and dislikes bold, dark work. There’s just so much room under my bed. I may even take the drastic step of pitching my failures, or perhaps I’ll just cut them up.
Speaking of displaying my work, I’d like to exhibit it more in non-quilt show venues. It may turn out that national art quilt exhibits aren’t interested in my work. The competition is keen. There are many art quilters far more technically accomplished than I am, and their work is more refined. At the local and regional levels, aside from shows organized by small groups for their members, not a lot of possibilities are out there that I know about. I have to decide if I want to take on the organization of such an exhibit for area art quilters, or even if there’s interest in such exhibits.
But enough about me. I’d love to hear from you about your accomplishments in 2017 and plans for 2018.