Monday, February 8, 2010

Stitching, Mistakes, Lessons and CS. No. 5

This quilt critter got some of my attention last week in the form of free-motion stitching. My stitching over all was not too bad- not too great, either, but about what I would expect at this stage of my self-education. The stitching is ok- but the stitch choice and even the thread color choice were both pretty horrible.

21" x 29"

Not having had any kind of sewing or quilting background, I'm in the dark as far as guessing what type of stitching is appropriate for each area, and how to get stitching to help me tell my story. As a paper artist, when a particular design element wasn't working, or was more prominent than I wanted it to be, a little paint would push it right to the background and I could go on with my piece until it was complete. Not so with stitch lines.

It's going to take time to learn how, where and when to stitch, and what threads to use. I'm fortunate to have a good friend in snowy Canada, Elle, who has taken pity on my confusion and is flooding me with excellent information that will help fill in a lot of the gaps in my sewing education! Thank you, Elle!!

One incredibly important thing I did learn from this piece is that, for myself, the straight line stitch is far more fascinating. It leads the eye along on a trail of discovery. If I want a viewer to notice a particularly neat area of a hand-dyed or painted surface, a wiggly line heading to it and then playing around it will pull the viewer's gaze with it. Representational stitching on my own work, like I did with the leaf pattern on this piece, doesn't currently speak to me.


This piece has been constructed using only my own hand-dyed and painted fabrics. 

On other fronts, My CitraSolv/NatGeo Collages continue. I'm up to number 5 and I believe I have six more masonite panels to use up. 

CS. NO5, 2-8-2010, 16" x 18"

Once again, I kept the design simple because I wanted to play with tinting the papers with various mediums. Here, I've used both watercolor paints and fabric dyes to stain the papers once they've been applied to the masonite. 

Collage has always been difficult for me, I tend to agonize over every decision and have even walked away from- leaving incomplete- complex pieces I had worked on for months because I simply couldn't decide when they were finished.  Some pieces tell you, "STOP NOW!", while others will play cat-and-mouse with your muse until they exhaust you and send you away, bored and frustrated. Art is capricious that way.

The purpose of doing these collage is to try and break through my obsession with needing to over-analyze the placement, size, shape, value, color and relevance of every tiny element. I'll let you know if it worked when this series is complete.

My friends over at LQuilt have their forums up and running this week and I would love it if you'd come over and join me for discussions about fabric surface design, the tools we most love, and how to build your own stash of fabrics that you've created yourself, and any other subjects relevant to surface design!

See you there!
- Judi


studio pashnada said...

I agree that the straight line stitches are like an arrow. I also think the leaf designs work great as a background. I think you should try using some paint over fabric & stitches you don't like - I think you might be pleased with the results.

I have just about decided I have to try citra solv after looking at your pieces. I gather I pour it on the entire magazine (minus the dark pages) then pull apart and dry. Sounds so easy for something that produces such pretty backgrounds. Have you tried it in more limited areas to see what you get?

sorry this is so long ~ Sherry

elle said...

Thanks, Judi. We are indeed snowy after this weekend's flurries. Much as I like free motion I am agreeing about the simple straight line. Stipple, meander, and lovely loops no matter how fancy lose their specialness when over used but simple never goes out of style. It is SO great to learn from each other- how'd you get those lovely leaves on the fabric? 8^) Another great site! nnggghhh I'm supposed to be sewing! 8^)

Katrina said...

Brave Woman! It is good that you sacrafice projects to continue your education!
I like what you have done leaves and all.

Jan said...

I like your stitching, looks good to me but of course you are the final and best judge.

Robbie said...

Judi, i love your collage pieces! and your quilted piece as well. It certainly is a challenge trying to decide how or what to quilt. Try putting large (taped) peices of tracing paper on top of your quilt top, then do some 'stitching' in pencil. This gives you a good idea of what 'not' to do! At least it works for me! most of the time! HA Thread choice is another challenge and all depends on whether you want your stitiching to show or just to give a 'quilted' look to your piece. I love your work and always look forward to your next post!

Eva said...

Sometimes, our own critical view is merciless, although the piece doesn't deserve it, and indeed is perfectly right, at least I think it looks very beautiful. The self-dyed cloth is well emphasized.
Would you like hand-quilting, too, although it takes a lot more time? It makes a huge difference in the surface texture you can obtain by the different methods. As for my work, I prefer it because I don't have the feeling to "run over" the piece, as I do with a machine.

Anonymous said...

Judi, I think you did a great job...just keep using your other art experiences..they will guide you in the design process...and the stitching is part of that. Good work.

Nancy said...

Very nice work. I think your stitches look great! Keep up the good work!

Debbie Bates said...

Judi- I like the free ends of the fibres for texture, and I like the subtle joining stitches that make the horizontal lines (not competing with the stronger free motion stitches). A nice blend.

Gina said...

Great job Judi! I understand what you mean by the representational stitching vs a stipple or straight line but I really like your quilt, including all the stitching! I too am learning as I go with the art quilts. I'd love to get to the stage that you're at, quilting with fabrics you've created!

Julia in NZ said...

I totally agree about the dilemma with stitching to continue the story of your piece. I also print out smaller copies of my work and practise various stitches on those first. So many times I come back to 'simple' rather than 'fancy'.

Threads are another matter, not just colour, but weight and matte/shiny. I agonise for ages, then do samples, and quite honestly from 2 or 3 metres it makes no difference at all!

The suggestion to paint your fabric and thread is another option.

There's no one and only good stitch for each piece. The stitching might change the atmosphere slightly, but that's not always a bad thing.