Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fused or pieced?

One of the most frequently asked questions I heard when people were looking at some of the quilts in my series „Play of Lines“ was the question „Is that fused, or is it pieced?“
Here is an example:

Play of Lines IX (2009),  72 inch x 73 ½ inch
For better view, here is a detail shot of the upper left hand section:

Play of Lines, Detail
Many viewers did not want to believe that the lines which appear to be crossing over and under each other in a sort of weave can actually be sewn, not fused, and a lot of people said they would like to be able to sew curves like that. I really don’t think it’s that hard to sew curves like that, but I do admit that it took me a number of years, and several UFOs (or even NFOs), to get to this point.

I was inspired to start the series Play of Lines when my then 2 ½ year old son started his first drawings, which were, quite typical for that age and stage of development, line drawings of a rather abstract nature. Probably the kind of pictures that Picasso must have meant when he said it took him a lifetime of painting to get to the stage of ability that a child has – I don’t know which were the exact words he used and can’t give a quote on this, but it’s one of the anecdotes one remembers being told about him.

Here is Play of Lines I, an interpretation of the first of my son’s pictures which gave me the idea that I could use them as inspiration:

Play of Lines I (2008), 110 x 152 cm
It started out as a copy of his choice of colors, and follows his original design rather closely, though the free-hand cutting with a rotary cutter, and the challenge of sewing things together in a feasible way do make for some changes in the execution, or the length of a line.

For some quilts later in the series I have used paper templates instead of the intuitive free-hand motion, because I wanted to achieve the perfect illusion of lines or bands being woven into each other. That effect is rather difficult to achieve when free-hand cutting – or at least I find it basically impossible. Here is a picture of Play of Lines XIX.

Play of Lines XIX (2010), 117 x 119 cm
For this quilt I did not use one of my son’s drawing as inspiration, but I have kept all of his early childhood drawings and am planning to use some more. For Play of Lines XIX I made a preliminary study of the section of the design which I thought would be most difficult to quilt, Play of Lines XVIII:
Play of Lines XVIII, 40 x 40 cm
However, when sewing No. XIX up, it turned out that this section in the lower right hand corner  was much more difficult to assemble:

Play of Lines XIX, Detail
I ended up stitching this section by hand – an occasion when I was quite happy that I had once worked through Jinny Beyer’s book on Quiltmaking by Hand, as I have already mentioned in my post on my UFO-project that was continued for a bit while my family went on a week’s holiday in early March.

While I was stitching my UFO in March, I also came up with the solution for my difficulties getting started with my entry for this year’s competition in Alsace, the topic of which is „Tangle“. I had easily enough come up with an idea for another Play of Lines, and the design was constantly hovering in my head, but I had been wondering about the intricacies of sewing it all together. This one was going to be so much more complicated than the earlier ones, and I was hesitating before taking it to the machine. But when I realized that I would be needing a bit of work to take on my three-week-trip to the United States, and had just had that recollection that hand-stitching wasn’t so bad after all, I got going. Within three days my design had been drawn up, fabrics chosen, auditioned, rejected and decided on, and all the parts cut out.

Auditioning fabrics for
Play of Lines XX-something

Final color selection
Cutting parts
I  don’t expect to have it completely finished when I return home from the States, but at least the most difficult sections will have been assembled, and perhaps I can then finish the remaining seams by machine.

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