Tuesday, July 26, 2016

When Difficult Quilts Happen to Determined People

The Best Part So Far 

Just in case you're asking yourself why on Earth I would make this my opening photo, it's because it's the best part of the quilt at this point. 

I created these two monoprints above a few weeks ago because there was something about the colors that really drew me in. I found I chose them a lot, and yet, if someone asked me what my favorite colors were, these would never come out of my mouth: red, black, yellow, peach, pink, and grey lavender. Visually, I choose them. Consciously, I would never.

I believe this. I believe that sometimes we have an idea for a piece of work, whether it is a quilt or painting or page, but it's in no way coming across our 'mind screen' in high def resolution. We more or less 'feel' it. We can see elements of it in our imagination--color perhaps, lines, but I will say there's more about it we don't know than we do. Still, we start these projects because they call us!

Whatever Possessed Me?

I hope you know the courage it has taken me to show this. I've struggled with this project for weeks. One moment I'm saying, "It will be fine. Breathe." The next I'm back to wondering why I've invested so much energy into a losing battle. I know it's how original design works, but this was even a stretch for me. The first picture of red, curved piecing is midway up the quilt, and then this section is the very bottom. The rest of the colors in the quilt will be in the same ranges. The not-quite-purple is called "Dances with Raisins", and is a Procion MX dye. Smashed up with the lipstick reds and tan/gold, it's all a little off. It's just doesn't feel cohesive.

Deep Breath In...and Out

Except for a few pieces I pulled from my hand dyed stash, the entire quilt started as a white cotton sateen. Some pieces were low water immersion dyed, and others painted with dyes. Part of my goal in making it was to experiment with, and experience how to add surface design on top of the dye. I would either add more dye, or paint, or ink before quilting. So, the dark (may I say dreary for me) colors we're looking at above are all the lowest layers. I left one small section pure white for a specific surface treatment, and you can see how out of place it looks. 

What do you do at this point to build 
cohesiveness throughout the quilt?

*Mind you, these are test swatches I started working on at 7 a.m. when I didn't know if the project would last the day. 

I started by choosing colors I needed to bring down in the quilt like red, terracotta, lavender, silver, and bright yellow, and gold. Trying out every product I had experience with, I went systematically through them on each piece of fabric. I used stencils, stamps, Gelli printing, paint brushes, markers, paint pens, and some things straight out of the bottle. Some things like Versatex didn't work at all. Versatex is very transparent, and needs a light background fabric. It simply disappeared into the fabric. The exception was when I used it on top of the white stamped leaves, and then it showed up brilliantly! Transparent paints stand our on top of an opaque base. Aha!

That little discovery led me to another solution. How was I supposed to get an opaque red to show up? On the left of the photo is a lipstick red paint, but it came out more terracotta. I used the same method, and applied a glossy red over the base paint. By applying with a brush, and highlighting in small sections, I could create some dimension to it. Going back into the area with a Sharpie fine point after it was dry was what I'd been doing with the small pieces I recently worked on. It added more color, and an opportunity to add yet another texture layer.

You can get a little idea of how blending these colors might help. Some deep purple in the black, gold in the purple, and red in the gold will hopefully work as well as it does when we choose compatible colors in commercial fabrics. 

For today, I'm on the "This is going to work...I think" side. There are lots of ways to add more layers and colors all the way through quilting as long it all stays balanced. It may not wind up the most beautiful quilt I've ever made, but it's work it's weight in what I've learned this far.

The Doxie girls and I are off to bed so we're perky and fit for another day of hard work tomorrow. Ta ta for now.

Come on, Minnie.
I'll cover you up first.


  1. Blimey Julie, you do like to push yourself! I love the inspiration pieces - like you might not have thought of those colours, but they definitely work. And I like the curve pieces in the top two pictures. You are right about that lower section: in this version it just doesn't sing. I do, though, like what you are doing with the printing/surface decoration and it feels like this is the right direction. These darker colours are only in your prints in smaller amounts and seem a bit heavy but adding the golds/oranges etc on top may well make the difference. If it were me I would keep on in this direction. Thanks for sharing this on AHIQ - it has really made me think.

  2. Keep it up Julie, I believe in never giving up, especially with so much time and effort already spent, and especially with your mastery of surface design techniques - you'll be able to adjust any value/hue issues once you're clear on where you are heading in the big picture!

  3. Your work excites me - even though it is out of my 'comfort' zone of quilting. Love the colors!!!! The brighter the better!! I am holding my breath to see the completed work (almost that is)....You are inspiration - BIG TIME!! Keep going. It will work!

  4. I love what you're doing here! It's so outside my experience I can't take it all in at a first reading! One thing is clear, however, Julie, you mustn't give up! Keep repeating: "This is going to work; this IS going to work!"

  5. Wow!! I have a feeling that this piece is going to be SPECTACULAR!!!

  6. Yes! This is working! Kept it up, looks like your experimentation is paying off well!

  7. You are such an inspiration in how you persevere to find a way to make it work. I love the shape and flow of the piece, and I know your additions will, in the end, make this piece spectacular! Thank you for sharing your process as you help this piece find its way into the world!

  8. Beautiful fabrics Julie, it is always fun to work with different things! I seem to be picking bright colorful fabrics to work with lately.

  9. I like how you find "lil things" in fabric to outline and emphasize. I was looking closely at the red in the one picture and noticed 2 little faces. So cute and fun!

  10. Thank you Julie for your inspiration and link today to the Show and Tell Monday, Pleasant summer / hug Bambi

  11. Hi Julie, I couldn't agree more the process can be more important than the outcome. It is not often that bloggers put the effort into trying to describe this process (probably because it is so intangible) so when one does I have great admiration for it. Well done for courage and taking a leap.

  12. Sometimes the creative process can be daunting keep at eventually you'll figure it out and be rewarded

  13. Sometimes the creative process can be daunting keep at eventually you'll figure it out and be rewarded

  14. Sounds like quite an adventure. The texture is making an amazing difference so far.

  15. I can see the allure of the bright colors - red and gold. Seems like a celebration. Creative process is rarely simple or straightforward. We go over so many iterations to get to the place where everything makes sense. It takes persistence, which is your middle names :-)
    You always march ahead. Love everything you do.


Thoughtful comments are Honey to My Heart! Thank you for taking time to leave such words. Feel free to email me directly with any specific questions at julie@pinkdoxies.com
Pink Doxie Mama