Free form floating …….. how I describe my creative mode. I float from idea to idea, method to method, task to task. I get an idea in my head and then try to figure out how to manifest it. This doesn’t always work as my ideas tend to be more complex than my skills.
When I began to design quilts back in the mid 80s, I used the fabrics I had as inspiration. I would take 15 or 20 or more different fabrics and then decide on how I would use them. My quilt shop owner friend told me that I could take some of the ugliest fabrics and put them together in a pleasing way. Whatever, I just put them together.
I had big plans. Swirling blocks of color forming a complex pattern. Trouble is, I didn’t have the patience to sit down and draft it out. Let others do that – I just played. The images floated in my head, but they seldom came down to earth.
I’m now concentrating on one theme in my work – squares. I like squares. There’s something stable and orderly about squares. They have 4 sides. They fit together. They blend. I want the colors in the quilt to be the story, not the shape. I have the patience for squares. I don’t have the patience for drafting.
Forgive the lousy photo. This was taken at the last show I attended as a participant in 1998 before moving out of the country. It is called Patchwork Jazz because my quilt mentor, Merry Silber, once told me that Americans only invented two things, patchwork and jazz. The background is a simple tumbling blocks pattern and the frame is intended to look like an art deco stage set. The sax player is Johnny Coltrane. I couldn’t draw him. I asked my son to do that and he did. I had hand dyed fabric in the color for his hands and face and I used a metallic black floral for his jacket. I loved this quilt. I put pipe cleaners in the fan at the top – unfortunately I should have used something stiffer because it kept flopping over. Sigh.
At any rate I had my idea in reality. My son would help with the design of many other pieces that I did – as long as he was in a good mood and didn’t bitch when I asked him to do something. Since he worked with me when I sold antique quilts and rare books, he’s put a stop to all of that. With my recent musings about starting up a business again, he let me know in no uncertain terms that it would be a lot of work for ME because he would not be assisting. Ah I had to laugh. For the days when he was a teenager and somewhat cooperative are long gone.
Now my ideas float not only for quilts, but also for knitted garments, the basic dyed cloth, the surface design of that cloth with paint, foil, screen prints ………. and for interior decoration as my home needs TLC. Anyone coming in here would gasp at the amount of painting that needs to be done. My recent move of my sewing room to the bedroom and vice versa was actually fun. When I mentioned that now we could paint the kitchen, I was told no. Well pooh, I can paint the kitchen. He can cook.
While floating I find it helps to have an anchor to bring me back down or I would float away like a hot-air balloon on a cross-country trip. My anchor is Bhakti Yoga – the yoga of the Chant. I put on chanting music and sing along while I float off, into space, touch the midstream continuum and gather my inspiration.