Monday, April 26, 2010

Passage (For 3CS Quilt Challenge)

("Passage" 14" x 14", layers of pleated, hand-dyed fabric with fabric beads, metallic trim and painted corrugated cardboard embellishments)

(detail) 

When I signed up for Quilt Challenge 2010, it seemed like such a simple thing- six quilts in twelve months. How hard could that be? And then the first prompt, Puzzle, was announced, and I froze solid. I never could find an idea I liked well enough to bring me to the sewing machine, so that reveal passed without me.

Not this time! The second prompt for the quilt challenge was "Passage", a theme that's close to my heart: passages are the only means we have of moving from one stage of our lives to another. Each of my own passages- and it feels as if there have been thousands- is precious to me.

So the theme gave me a lot of ideas, but none of them really gelled until I settled on the manner in which I wanted to depict a Passage. I chose my current passion, fabric dyeing, to express a passage from one place to another- in this case, from one color into another.

I set out to dye pieces of fabric for my quilt, using a gray-to-black gradation. I dyed the fabric pieces twice and could only achieve a beautiful dove gray. Nice, but not what I needed. I finally realized that the chemical fixer I was using was NOT soda ash, which is why the fibers couldn't hold onto the dye.

Out of fabric and black dye, I turned instead to my favorite blue- teal- to help me overdye the gray already present in the fabric. That was a success, and I was finally ready to start construction of the quilt, which only took a couple of days.

This quilt wound up being a lot more meaningful than just an expression of a simple passage- it was also the way forward I needed to get back into a series I'd adored working on last year but which had been put aside for other, more pressing concerns. I'd always felt as if I had a lot more to say with my "Fringe" series, and the ideas I'd wanted to express had been left truncated when I'd stepped away from the series. Now it's time to get back to them and allow them to flower and find the voice they'd been struggling towards less than 12 months ago.

To see all the other beautiful quilts in this challenge, please visit 3 Creative Studios and leave some comment love for the participants.
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