Breakdown printing is seriously addictive. When the sun is shining and screens are drying in a couple of hours it is really tempting to just keep on printing.
Especially when it is giving me such yummy results. But I’ve been here before and know that it is important to stop and take a moment. So today I have put all my newly printed fabrics through the washing machine (twice), dried them, ironed them and assessed them.
Thermofax printing at same time as breakdown printing
The piece of art that exists in my head will be mostly monochromatic and will be pale at the top and dark at the bottom. So I have cut into my fabrics and pinned the ‘good’ pieces on my design wall. Standing back I can see that I have lots of light and medium pieces but none that are really dark. I can also see that the inclusion of words is interesting but I only I have a couple of small pieces so far.
Auditioning fabrics on my design wall
Not all pieces made the grade yet so I have a pile that I will soda soak again and print over either to include words or to make much darker or both. Although breakdown printing is not an ‘exact’ process it does become more predictable the more you do so hopefully the next round of printing will give me palette of fabrics I need to move on to the composition time. Lets hope the good weather lasts!
I’m in the final stages of making Ruins 7. Well I think I am. I need to stitch on facings and get it hung up somewhere so I can decide if it needs more stitch or not. Which presents a bit of a challenge as it is taller than the height of my studio. This will take a few days to sort out. So what should I do now?
I have been planning on going back to my Storm / Still series to (try to) make a piece for the SAQA call for entry ‘Layered Voices’. Up until now my ideas were all pretty vague and somewhat grandiose. But today I had a light bulb moment thanks to fellow Etcetera member Linda Bilsborrow. Following a discussion about her work I happened to glance at a small sample that was pinned to my Storm / Still design wall …. and flash! Off went that elusive light bulb!
Sample made whilst developing the Storm / Still series
I’m really lucky to have several design walls so I can keep lots of ideas and samples pinned up. Most of that space has been filled with Ruins stuff for the last few months but I kept some photos of Dunure beach and stitched samples visible – would I have had that light bulb moment if everything was tucked away?
Pinned up fabrics ready for auditioning
And now that I have a good idea of how to procede I have rearranged my design walls to keep me focussed. On one wall I have pinned the sample and some fabrics that I have already printed. I will add to this wall as I print more pieces. On another wall I have pinned up more photos of Dunure – I can look at these and remember what I felt sat on that beach and what I’m trying to convey in my work. And I have changed the drop cloth on my big print bench from the unmarked one that signifies I am in a composition and stitching phase to one with lots of lovely residual marks from previous printing sessions. Not as quick as flipping a switch but it has the same effect!
Memories of Dunure beach
270cm x 135cm
I finished this piece several weeks ago but have only just hung and photographed it. It is quite different to the earlier pieces in the Ruins series and I am not yet sure whether that is different in a good way. For better or for worse the quilt is now on its way to Festival of Quilts where it will be shown in the Art Quilt section. Because it is so wide I am hoping it will get hung on a white wall rather than on the traditional quilt stands. I think some of the impact will be lost if the lighting isn’t great but that is a risk I am willing to take to get my work out there! Wherever there is!
Ruins 6 detail
A word of warning before I start – those you know me might want to sit down.
Ruins 7 – work in progress
I have now finished the background stitching on Ruins 7. It is big; a massive 5 square metres. Which equates to hundreds of parallel lines of stitching achieved by spending hours and hours at my sewing machine. And it looks great – well worth the investment I have made in it so far.
I wanted to do something a little different with this piece and had, in my mind, stitched silhouettes of ruined, bombed out buildings. I went on-line to get some images to work from. Sadly there are far too many images out there – from London and Dresden in the second World War to Aleppo today. I started by sketching in a notebook but could get no sense of scale. So I decided to draw out the full sized design. Cue lots of hours drawing, tearing up paper and drawing again until I was sort of happy. I draw onto blank newsprint paper as I know it tears easily and thought I could pin it to the quilt and stitch through.
I thought wrong. Trying to manhandle the quilt and paper on my sewing machine was horrendous. If I had a swear box in the studio I could have paid my mortgage off!! I thought long and hard about my options …. And decided to draw the design directly onto the quilt. And not with a pencil (which wouldn’t really show up) or with a water soluble marker pen (as I have no intention of letting the piece near water). I decided to use a black permanent marker pen. Yeaks!!
I am using free machine quilting in a black thread to ‘etch’ over the lines so most of the marks should be hidden. Assuming I don’t make a mistake …… Is that brave or really stupid?