Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Evolution of Fun!

When I made the letters for Helen's Rules quilt almost a year ago, each letter was made out of one fabric. I decided to make the word FUN from several different fabrics. I had planned to sew up the word like this:I have a cat, Millie. The letters were laid out on the floor, in the path you take to go from the sewing room to the hallway. (You can see where this is going.) I was trying to work out the letter spacing, when Millie came tearing into the room, knocking the letters helter-skelter. I looked at what she had done and laughed. "Thank you Millie," I told her. "Good girl." I sewed up the word FUN with the letters jumping around at different angles.

For Tonya's Rules, I did the same thing, letters made out of several fabrics, bouncing around. Tonya's has four exclamation marks, and each of her four cats is represented.
For Julie's quilt, No Rules for Julie, I had the idea of adding extra "FUN's" around the big FUN, but having them made out of fabrics that would almost blend into the background. Julie calls them "shadow funs." Their visibility depends on the light. In some lights, you can see them all, in softer light, some disappear almost completely. That was my plan. You might miss the fun. (get it? miss the fun?)
For Julie's quilt, I made the "shadow" FUNs first, and then made the real FUN to fill in the space I had left. (yes, dear son, I -know- that you'd like to see the "F" and "U" closer together, but dammit, it's harder than it looks.)
So now I am making two more Rules quilts, and I want the FUN to be DIFFERENT. So I am thinking, how do I do that?

Dunno about you, but I get my sketchbook out and start drawing. I don't draw block letters, that doesn't work for me. I -write-. And when I wrote this one.. this cursive "F" (You know which one I mean, the one with the box almost drawn around it)... I knew I was on to something.
Now, by the way, this is a Moleskin sketchbook. There are five squares to one inch (2.54 cm). So we're not talking about gigantically huge letters here. I drew out a larger box, twice as big as the original and then drew out the letter F until I got a nice shape I liked, then I cleaned up the lines with my eraser. In the final stitched version, each square of graph paper will equal one inch, so this F, should (in theory) be about seven inches tall and about ten inches wide.
My friend Julie tells people I work out my letters on graph paper ahead of time. Well, yeah, I guess, but that's only so I can see the size relationships before I sew them together. (Because I'm a cheap New Englander and I hate wasting stuff.)

I do not slavishly follow my graph paper drawings. I sew the letters completely by eye. I wing it, I guess, I experiment, I rip stuff apart, I make stuff two and three times, (yes, I know this statement contradicts my earlier one, but I'm an artist, and artists tolerate ambiguity) but I do NOT "enlarge based on the grid."

Notice you don't see anything on this drawing indicating how I should sew it together. THAT, I never do. I'll just take this drawing into the sewing room, and start sewing.

You'll see the results, I promise. Now it's time for me to sew...

(you can click each of the photos, and most of them can be clicked again to enlarge.)


Tonya Ricucci said...

wonderful! that F is going to be awesome. I love the details about how you go about making the letters. thanks!

NeverBored said...

You, and Millie, are so clever! What an inspiration you are to me; I'm a bit too German (love grids and geometries) but I'm trying to exercise another part of my brain and become more random and free wheelin'. That's where you inspire me and give me some guidelines on how to get out of my box. Thanks!

Quiltdivajulie said...

Using "graph" paper DOES help with newly-evolving relationships between letters and, yes, that is what I tell people who ask about the process. I always follow that statement with "cut yourself some strips and start playing" ~ because that is the only way serendipity can play a part in the final result. Having a plan, but knowing when to get out of the way ...

Great process post!

shirley said...

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