Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Plan for "The Rules" Letters

"If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun."

It works on so many levels. First, it's a fun quote. We all like to have fun, and we all bristle a bit at some of the "rules." Next, Helen and I both love "wonky," "whimsical," and "free-pieced" quilts, all of which break the "rules." Lastly, the quilt would be made of free pieced letters that by definition, don't obey any rules.

Once I had the quote I liked, I drew the letters out in my little graph paper notebook. I needed to get a feel for how big (small) they could be. If one square represented one inch, these letters, and the quilt would be enormous. My letters had to be more compact.I wasn't trying to do anything creative with them, I just wanted to get them down so I could see them. This first go-round was pretty boring.

Then I started playing a bit. The letters would have to be smaller, so I tried three units by four units - the letters would be four inches tall finished. I had to get the "Y" in "you" a lot smaller. I had to get it to be the size of the "O." I drew it again, squeezing the tail of the Y up.
I liked the play of very thick and very thin. A capitol "B" would be tricky, but I knew from experience that sometimes a mix of upper and lower case letters could be visually interesting. It was also a good way to break the "rules."
You can see how once I got the rhythm going, the design of the letters fell into place. Notice the evolution of the "R".

Once I had a design I felt would work, I drew the quote again on a larger sheet of graph paper. I wasn't concerned about the spacing between the letters at this point. Next I got out a sharpie, and colored the letters black. A trip to the photocopier gave me several copies. (This way I don't have to re-draw letters from scratch.) From these I cut away letters that didn't seem to work, and replaced them with variations I liked better, and taped them into place.
I like the plan of the letters, the fact that they are big and blocky. I also particularly like the way the open spaces in the letters go vertical, then horizontal. Notice all four "E's" are different; how I inverted one of the S's" in "MISS", and the mirroring of the negative spaces in the "EY" of "OBEY." All quite deliberate.

I wasn't worried about the word "FUN" as I knew I was going to break the pattern with that particular word. It couldn't be as formal, or as stiff as the other letters. I didn't have any idea what I would do, but I wasn't worried. I had 33 letters to sew before I had to decide.

I wanted the design to at first appear simply to be blocks of color, then the letters would reveal themselves, and finally, the quote itself would be revealed.


Sam said...

As soon as I saw that quilt (was it only yesterday?) I started thinking of quotes to make one of my own. Now here you are showing me how to draft it out! thank you so much, both for the inspiration and the technical help.

Clare said...

Lynne - you've done it again! Your letters are marvellous. They remind me very much of the letters in Tonya's "I made this quilt" quilt.

Joyce said...

I love those blocky letters. I've never drafted before starting with my letters but it's definitely a good idea.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you'd love Kathryn Schmidt's new book, "Rule Breaking Quilts." A different approach from Gwen Marston's "Liberated Quiltmaking" (both the original and the newly published "Liberated Quiltmaking II") and just as much fun. It's a great way to escape from the quilt police!
Linda in Paducah

Helen said...

Wow Lynne, I am amazed at all your planning. I didn't notice the E's were all different.... I did notice that the letters revealed themselves and then the quote. When I first said it out aloud it was very slowly, making sure I got it right. x

Nancy said...

I love this explanation on your design process for making letters.
The finished quilt is wonderful.

Tonya Ricucci said...

fascinating. I love getting a glimpse into how you plan your letter quilts - always so different from how I go about it. wonderful post.

Cheryl Arkison said...

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing your process.