Friday, April 19, 2013

The series returns - 3

I wrote earlier this week about how series progress, and how my fine-line piecing has gone through some phases of trying out new things.  One trend was to go from monochrome backgrounds to more complex color placement that starts to have figure-ground characteristics.  Another is to use stripes instead of solid colors.

Fueled by a new stash of striped fabrics, I decided what I had to do next.  It has been relatively simple to use stripes in the format of small "bricks" joined by fine-line "mortar."  I've made three quilts like this so far, and they're built up small-to-large, with tiny bits of fabric joined into modules.  I've kept the gridwork pretty much rectangular, so construction is straightforward, if time-consuming.

Crazed 8: Incarceration, 2010, detail

But now I decided it would be a challenge to use stripes in my large-to-small format, with diagonal lines instead of rectangular gridwork.

I wanted to work huge, as usual, but not huge-all-in-one-piece, since I find such pieces difficult to quilt.  So I decided to make four panels.

As long as the work was going to be in four parts, I thought it would be interesting to have the composition progress from part 1 to part 4, starting out simple and calm and becoming more complicated and chaotic.

So here's part 1 on the left, calm.  All the stripes are horizontal, all the fine lines cut from the same fabric, the different color areas gently abutting, the values restrained and similar.  And the beginning of part 2 on the right, getting more roiled up.

I realize that in my past works I've only had to make one kind of transition at a time.  In the detail shot of Crazed 8 above, for instance, I'm transitioning from a dark blue palette to black-white-neutral.  That's a piece of cake (well, it took some practice, but I've gotten it down pat by now).

But in the new piece I am going to make at least five transitions (at least that's what I think is going to happen; I reserve the right to change my mind as the work progresses).  First, I'm going to change from relatively large pieces between the fine lines to smaller pieces.  Second, I'm going to introduce a whole range of values.  Third, I'm going to use the whole color wheel.  Fourth, I'm going to mix up the fabrics within a given area, maybe even more than I've done in Crazed 8 above.  Fifth, I think I'm going to let the stripes be vertical and diagonal as well as horizontal.  And all the while, I'll be using a format of diagonal lines, much more complicated than rectangular grids.

Panel 1 was easy, but already in panel 2 it's hard work.  It's difficult to do two things at once, even though right now all I'm doing is trying to introduce a couple of new fabrics in a lighter value and break up the expanses of a single background fabric.  Haven't even gotten off the blue/green palette or let the stripes go in different directions.  And of course when you work in fabric you're constrained by the fabric you own.  No medium green?  Tough.

I have no idea what's going to happen next.  My "sketchbook" consists of words only -- the paragraph above with the five transitions.  So I'll have to keep cutting and sewing, one section at a time, and see where the fabric leads me.  I'll keep you posted.


  1. Great effect on the first part with the broader stripes. The second part already begins to make me dizzy simply looking at it, as does Incarceration No 8 - amazing that your eyes don't pop out your head while you are working on these! Keep going, looking forward to the results of this multitransitional process.

    1. You're right -- the interrupted stripes do make for agitated optical effects, although they haven't induced seizures yet. I think it's a little worse in the photo than in person.

  2. I agree with Uta (I think it is Uta)
    I was going to suggest the name be Crazed 9: Crazy! (if it is 9).

  3. I love to see how the series progresses - its a great example of why to work in series.

  4. The new piece is intriguing. I can't wait to see how it goes.

  5. I am enjoying the unfolding of bold ideas with each new piece. Thank you for sharing your work and process in such a thoughtful way. You perfectly illustrate the rewards of not just doing the work, but doing it with intention.

  6. It's wonderful to see how many things you can do with lines and grids. I'd love to have you share your link at Design Wall Weekend on

  7. Whew, that's a big agenda - lots to juggle at once - have you left yourself anything challenging to do after this one's done??!

  8. Crazed 8: Incarceration makes a great screen saver. Is it too much to ask that Crazed 9 be formatted to fit a 1920x1080 screen?