"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Friday, August 17, 2012

Blank Slate

I've spent a couple of days out in the studio doodling on a whole cloth quilting sampler and found it to be very therapeutic.  There's something to be said for starting out with a blank slate - be it fabric, a canvas, an empty room or an empty life - and spending the time and effort to make it into something fundamentally changed by your touch.  A blank canvas gives you freedom to make your own choices and not be forced to work around the mistakes that came before.  But it also means any mistakes you make can't be hidden.  Glory or shame, it's all yours. 
I was working on muscle memory and plan to use the quilt as a sampler for quilting stitches.  Here are a few photos:

In contrast to a blank slate, starting out with a canvas that is already covered with scars, scribbles, rub marks and tears allows you to use those attributes to make the "finished" result interesting - sometimes even stunning.   In fact, most painters put down a layer or two of gobbly gook to make the painting on top show richness and texture.  For that matter, what is a pieced or appliqued quilt but a bunch of torn up pieces of fabric stitched together so that they are much more interesting than when they started? 

As for a life, what person beyond the age of reason doesn't contain wounds and scars that come from broken hearts, tears of joy and sorrow, rejection, victory, satisfaction and angst?  But how can any stellar life be built on anything but the folds and creases that represent experience, hard work, hard knocks, sacrifice and faith?

I'm toying with the notion of creating a quilt to enter in the IMQA show that is to be held in Wichita, Kansas, next year.  Wichita is only about three hours away so it would be a shame to not attend and I have until nearly May to create an entry.  The theme, this year, is Dreamcatcher  so although it is surely a cliche, I think I will practice making some background fillers in a dreamcatcher design.  The feathers for a dreamcatcher don't really look like the traditional Victorian feathers quilters so often use and certainly don't flow the same way.  But they tend to use circles (pearls or bubbles) and I am a big fan of circles in background fillers. 
I found quite a few designs on a google search and also discovered there are millions of photos of dreamcatcher tats.  Here's an example of a drawing:

I have an idea for the quilt roughly sketched out on my sketchbook but am sure it will go through a zillion morphs while I work with how I want the light to flow and figure out what I can accomplish and what I can't. 

Today, I agreed to work in one of the local quilt shops a couple of days a week and am both excited and nervous about it.  I've been on high center for quite some time on working and haven't wanted to dress up, go to a high pressure interview, get the resume just right, try to wow the interviewers and then worry that if I end up getting the job, I will have to stay there at least five years even if I hate it.  The legal community is a small one and you don't want to be flaky.  

No surprise, I guess, this was a completely different experience from looking for a lawyer job.  Obviously, it doesn't pay anything like a law job but she already knew me, read my cover letter, scanned the application, stuck out her hand and asked me when I could start.  I mean, this was so refreshing.  I've been dreading looking for a job because I am used to interviews lasting over a period of weeks, waiting to hear if they want to interview you, dressing up for several levels of interviews, studying their business and relevant law so I can ask intelligent questions, and then worrying they'll actually offer me the job in case I end up hating it. 

This job is flexible, only 1-2 days a week and I get a discount on fabric, books and patterns.  More importantly, I will get to be around fabric, quilts and other quilters.  I don't have to be there until 10:00 so the typical lawyer job of rolling out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to take a shower and squeeze into hose and heels so I can be out the door within an hour, with or without coffee, won't be part of the equation.  Instead, I'll still be able to guiltlessly stay up late the night before; have my coffee on the patio in the morning with Mr. Wonderful; wear real clothes instead of a court costume; and skip the rush hour traffic.  I actually always really enjoyed working with the law and loved going to court - but I sure like the idea of working in a place where people come to relax instead of places, like court, where people's lives are being torn apart and they are terrified, furious and confused. 

I went to a local quilt show, today, and saw a lot of pretties.  I am always delighted to see local talent and happy that regular people get to strut their stuff:
 This is hand quilted and PERFECT:
 I loved the masculine looking backquilting in the center:
And before my daughter brains me for being a sexist (which, okay, I can be), masculine looking back quilting is just a descriptive term denoting sharp points or quilting that otherwise lacks curves.  I do think the above quilter's decision to combine victorian feathers with the sharp points is unusual. 

The more I looked at this one, the more I found to applaud:
 I really liked this one:
 This was cute:
 This was a kit and I normally am not a big kit fan - but I thought it was gorgeous:
 I think the quilting is beautiful and if you look close, the daisies are covered with cross stitch:
I've said this, before, but I'll repeat myself:  I am not a huge fan of the look of a digitized quilting.  It is "too" perfect.  I realize I may be coming from the direction of a freehand quilter but that is just my reaction.  I suppose when people started machine quilting, a lot of the traditional hand quilters felt much the same way.  And I am well aware that someone can take a so-so quilt top to someone with a computerized quilting machine and for a very reasonable price, get a knock your socks off result.  I certainly understand why they would do that - it makes perfect sense.  And it makes even more sense when you consider that for roughly the same price, you might get a freehand quilter whose skill level is not really all that good so you get a so so quilt top with a so so quilting job. 

But I still find myself glossing over quilts that have been quilted by computer even though I know there is a lot more to it than just turning on the machine.  When I see a custom freehand quilting job that is spectacular, ahhhhhh - that is what rings my bell. 

Beautiful hand quilting just makes me feel inadequate.

Pearly's eyes look great and she feels great but the skin right beneath her eyes, i.e., where the drops drip, smells bad and is starting to act like she has irritated skin beneath the hair.  I've sent photos to the eye doctor and hope they have an idea of how to deal with it, next week.  Through all of this, you wouldn't know she was on so many drops and then, practically overnight, both eyes did this:
Mr. Wonderful treated it with peroxide and did an eye wash so we shall see if that helps over the weekend.

Off to have my nightly glass of wine. 

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl


Florida Farm Girl said...

I think you're going to enjoy the quilt shop. You have so much to offer as inspiration to others. Do they do long arm quilting there?

I am just plain green with envy over your quilting skills. That's my dream, to one day have something, even a Tin Lizzie to do my quilting.

Miriam said...

I really hope Pearly's eyes are better soon.
Congratulations on your new job! Surrounded by fabric all day!! Wonderful!!
I'm looking forward to hearing more about your quilt show entry. Good Luck!
looove your quilting!

Anonymous said...

Every time you blog I get excited knowing that I'm going to read an incredible blog post. Whole cloth work is my favorite and i love seeing how your whole cloth and thought process through it.
I do hope Pearls eyes heal quickly. She's certainly gone through a lot! Poor baby.