Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Studio Dance part B

Saturday December 18.
I knit until noon, then showered and got dressed. I entered the inner sanctum and turned on the boombox to listen to NPR, and my favorite Saturday entertainment, Ira Glass’s This America Life. It was a rerun, which is just as enjoyable and comforting as a new program.
The studio is pretty clean, just a few things on the worktable to remove, which I do, since the priority of the day is to find the fabric for the next matchstick piece.

Then emptying my fabric drawer onto the table, I begin to sort. (I do have more than one fabric drawer, but this is the un-fused stuff, the good stuff, and the pieces that I hope will help me make the best work.)

Since I am a dyer, I only use my own hand dyed fabrics for my quilts. I put aside particular pieces that interest me and save them for years and years until they lose their preciousness and become usable. There is no gauge of how long a piece must age, and it will look as new as the day it was dyed, since I keep it all under wraps during this aging process.

In recent years I have switched from working on a gorgeous background fabric, and applying fused bits, to fuse-piecing my designs, and leaving off the fused bits entirely. With the advent of the matchstick design, I realized that I must resurrect those wonderful background fabrics and put away the others. I can tell the difference, even if no one else can.

The task of finding all that old fabric begins to materialize. I have boxes of fabric that I must wade through. This will take several hours, and is fraught with many decisions, which since the idea for the quilt has yet to emerge, means that every choice is more difficult.

Eventually I accumulate several possibilities, all in large yardage pieces. Three yards by 42” or 54” squares. No wonder they never got used. Cutting into these pristine fabrics requires confidence and determination. They were dyed in a process that is no longer available to me, and once I use them I will not have them again.

Pinning them all to my wall, I return the rest of the fabrics to boxes, in some sort of an organized fashion. I did arrange them by color, which I thought would be helpful next time I went through this process. And I left the fabric drawer a little less full than it was when I started.

Recently in my teaching experience. I have provided kits for the students to use in the class. This eliminates the need to decide what to bring, and then they can leap right into the project. Too many choices postpone the work.

So somehow I must limit my choices too. I will eliminate some of these fabrics, putting them in the drawer, and working with only the one piece for the new quilt.
The new piece is multicolored so that is why this works. All the pieces are multicolored. And whatever I make will have multicolored bits fused to it. Therefore, it almost makes no difference where I start, as the result is always “All Color All the Time”.

OK. The fabrics have been chosen. Now what will the layout for the quilt be like? I have my sketchbook at the ready and I doodle for a while, but nothing good happens.
I am cold and wish it were time to leave the studio and drive Frieda to the airport for her Christmas trip to Florida. This is my last ‘obligation’ before all my friends become engrossed in their family holidays. When she has left, there will be no one to call, and that large space of solitude will envelope me and help me focus. Our holiday festivities are few until the day actually arrives. I get my best work done this week, in the subdued environment of my studio.

I return upstairs to the site of my morning’s knitting. I knit a while, constructively using the last remaining minutes before driving Frieda. Looking up I glance at the two wonderful piece of felted artwork made by Karen Hampton and her daughter. I recently moved these pieces into the library/TV room and happily they inspire me anew. The motifs are tie-dyed circles, which are so like what is going on with the matchsticks designs. I am finally able to see new possibilities and feel that tomorrow I will be able to begin.


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