Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Yet another new project begins

For some reason I'm bouncing all over the place this winter, one day on one body of work and then the next day on another so different that it doesn't even seem to be coming from the same person. Later this year I'll have to get focused on my Quilt National entries, but for now I'm happy playing with a whole lot of different things.

This week I've started a new project which is sort of a charity endeavor, the product of one of those daisy chains of friends-of-friends.  My art pal Keith Auerbach knows a young couple in Portland OR, Payal Parekh and Geoff Bugbee, who have a business selling artisan screenprinted clothing and scarves.  Several months ago when they were visiting, they saw Keith's Photoshop wizardry and asked him if he would design some images that would be suitable for silk scarves.

Payal's father has a silkscreen operation in India that makes scarves and other fine textiles for high-end designers, and he took Keith's designs and translated them into reality, choosing fashion-forward colorways and borders that will become one-meter-square scarves.  The theme of this collection is horses, and Payal and Geoff hope to raise enough money through a Kickstarter campaign to produce the collection and market it to horse lovers and racing fans; the campaign will begin in late March with fancy cocktail parties in Louisville and Lexington, the twin centers of the Kentucky horse community.

When they were visiting Keith, they saw a little wall hanging that I had made for him using cut-up postcards from one of his photo exhibits. (I wrote about it here.)  They liked it, and as plans for the Kickstarter parties proceeded, they thought maybe it would be cool to have a paper quilt made from their scarf images.  I agreed to make one, impelled by visions of some free silk at the end of the road.

A postage quilt from Keith's postcards

So last week I was thrilled to get a big package from Portland with proof sheets, I guess you would call them, of the scarves in the collection.  They are printed onto heavy paper, which I have cut into three-inch squares in preparation for making my quilt.  The paper copies are gorgeous; I can't wait to see what they will look like in silk!

Working with paper has some important differences compared to working with fabric.  In some ways it's easier to cut and sew, because it's naturally stiff and doesn't fray.  But in other ways it's harder: you can't make mistakes, because needle holes can't be concealed, and you have to take extra care not to crease the paper.

And you can't just slap the bits up on the design wall for composition, since paper doesn't stick to the felt backdrop the way fabric does.  So I had to improvise, and came up with this system:

Start with a strip of adding machine tape, fold it up to make a little pocket, pin it to the design wall and add a thread to hold the paper squares upright.

I've got the quilt almost entirely laid out, and after a day of contemplating the design I'll be able to start sewing.  I think the construction will go exactly like it does in fabric, which means I won't have to be inventing any more new techniques.