Monday, March 5, 2012

Collaboration project 10 -- an update

I wrote last year about a collaboration with photographer Keith Auerbach, who made beautiful designs starting with a scanned image of one of my little sew-off squares.  I said at the time that as collaborations go, this wasn't at all a balanced meal.  I did 1 percent of the work, he did 99 percent.  But I resolved to have a second act in which I would have a better showing.

So here it is.

After scanning and playing with the sew-off images, Keith played with some other images as well.  One of his results struck me as being particularly amenable to a pieced quilt, because of the graphic stripes in the center panels.

So here's what I came up with:

I don't think this is a great work of art; in fact I will probably never finish it, let alone show it in public.  But I am excited about some things I learned in making it.

Most notable was the striking effect of the striped panels, exactly what drew me to the image in the first place.  They were indeed amenable to being executed in fabric.  Yes, everything is pieced (since you can't buy striped fabrics these days).

But the parts I liked best about the little quilt were not the plain striped panels but the complex areas where diagonal cuts of stripes were juxtaposed with others -- for instance, at the left margin just below center, or to the left of the red pyramids. 

The stripes vibrate all over, as in the old Op Art paintings, but especially at the places where the regular pattern is interrupted.  I'm going to make more work with stripes, and explore what happens with different patterns and color combinations.

What else did I learn?  That a judicious bit of commercial print fabric can enliven an austere array of pieced solids.  I've gotten so far away from commercial prints in the last several years that it took a fair bit of courage for me to incorporate the red into this piece, but I think it worked nicely.  I'll try to keep an open mind in the future for similar opportunities.

And finally, that my beloved Kona cotton solids, which I have used exclusively for almost ten years, have some bad habits that I may not be able to live with in making more quilts like this.  Kona is a beefy fabric but not tightly woven.  Those qualities endear themselves to me, because it's a forgiving cloth;  you can rip out mistakes, in either the piecing or the quilting, without leaving holes, as you get in Pimatex or other broadcloths. 

But the downside of not-tightly-woven is that cut edges fray easily, leaving nasty little threads out in the middle of the pieced areas.  Which creates no problems if your colors are darker, but every little thread shows through to the front in a pale yellow or white fabric.  In this photo it's not Kona that's fraying, but you can see what a mess you can end up with.  In my striped study, the dark Konas didn't fray anywhere near this badly, but enough stray threads did escape that it would have taken a full day to get the piece ready for show quality.  Call that a full week to get a full-size quilt ready, time I would be very crabby about spending.

So if I make more high-contrast stripes with white or other pale colors, I will either have to seek out another fabric, or figure out a way to keep the Kona in check.  I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, thanks again to Keith for letting me use his photo as inspiration.  I got plenty out of this collaboration and suspect I will get lots more before it's over.


  1. I am glad you got brave enough to use the bright red. It seems counter intuitive, but it works to give your eyes a place to rest from all the vibrations.
    Sandy in the UK

  2. wow, it's great! i love the vibrations. i've been using vintage striped bed linens which i love. not the best quilting fabric, but it works for me!