Comparisons: Fabric is messier

For the last four years, I’ve been painting more than I’ve been stitching. In fact, I’ve been stitching so little that my storage room and stitching studio have been placid places to linger — tidy, organized, coherent.

However, as I am now embarked on a June 1 deadline for applying for a SAQA-Oregon quilted art exhibit, I am in a position to declare, firmly, that painting may smell worse (and make clothes useless except for painting) but fabric work is far far far more messy:

This is but one of the five or six “organized” piles of fabric I stacked around the studio. It does not show the bits of cut-off fabric flung in the direction of the waste basket nor the inevitable thread and lint that litter the floor and cover my clothes and my fabric. It also doesn’t show the chairs, tables and other flat surfaces on which I have placed, sometimes carefully, sometimes carelessly, hunks of fabric half-sewn, thinking they might come in handy. Which they do, sometimes. But often they just add to the clutter. There’s also the ironing board with the hot iron and its definitive hot-cloth smell; the folding table where the scissors and cutting board and rulers hide, not to mention the sewing machine itself, which has to be able to be found, and fully opened, both for sewing and for piling more piles of half-sewn, potentially sewn, and discarded piles of cloth.

The result, however, is pretty well finished and I actually vacuumed up some of the worst of the litter. I am putting together the background for a painting which I plan to applique to the top of an improvisationally-pieced background. The improvisational piecing is what Nancy Crow was teaching sometime around 1995; or at least it’s my memory of what I learned in that class. I wouldn’t want Nancy to feel responsible for the results, since I was very much winging this project. Here’s the background, hanging on the design wall, looking pleased with itself:

It’s 67 x 53″ which adds up to the maximum size allowable for this exhibit — 240 inches max around the perimeter. Whether it will finish at this size is still a question. What is not in question is that there will be innumerable changes in and around the painted fused piece on top, including, perhaps, some fusing on top the piecing. Never let it be said that I am anal about working out the processes in advance.

I would like to do a couple more pieces for this exhibit entry, both smaller than this one. I thought I’d get the worst out of the way first and then see what happens. But for this piece, here’s what I must tackle next:

Yup, it’s my blank page, waiting to be painted and applied to that top. At least I can retreat to the painting studio to work on this part of the project. Out there, I can’t see the chaos from my computer and, as I said, while the smell is greater, the mess is actually less. Of course, while I’m there, I’ll also have to work on those Rogue River acrylic paintings. And then there are the cold-wax stairs series that needs attention.

Someday, I won’t know what to do with myself. Someday. –June

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8 Responses to Comparisons: Fabric is messier

  1. JUne says:

    Ah, Sheila, I should have added a behind my last comment. Around here we say sometimes that “our vices are often our virtues.”

    My vice is definitely improvising, whether appropriate or not. That can turn into a virtue — sometimes There’s the appropriate snort, anyway.


  2. Sheila says:

    Well, that depends on how uptight and generally structured one is. vbg Although I have to admit, once I get past the first bit of uncomfortableness with improvising, SOMETHING does happen. I don’t know that I would describe it as a tranquil state, or easier for me, but it definitely gives me different results. Sometimes wonderful ones, sometimes not so much. Practice practice, I suspect, would help me get there.


  3. JUne says:

    thanks, guys. It will take a while to add the painted section because I ran out of the liquid thread that Terry uses. So while I’m waiting for more to arrive, I will allow the background to stare at me from my painting wall in the painting studio. The first fused piece is painted and just needs to be glued in place so I know how far I have to go. Which is OK, because in the meantime I get to do real painting, on real canvases, which always are much smaller.

    Sheila, it helps a whole lot not to plan and not to measure. Piecing is easier, if not more tranquil, when improvised


  4. Del says:

    Gosh, I think it is wonderful, just the way it is. Del


  5. Sheila says:

    Goodness! That’s a lot of piecing for someone who hasn’t worked with fabric for awhile. Big, too. It’s been forever since I made a wall piece that big. I salute you!


  6. Hey June, I love the background, but I know when you add whatever the painted part is I’ll probably love it even more.


  7. Terry Grant says:

    Wonderful background! Are you sure you want to add to it? Ha!


    • june says:

      Ha! indeed. Of course I don’t want to add to it. I feel as if my heroism in piecing the blasted thing should suffice for at least ten years of further work. On the other hand, my muse is kicking my behind. And of course, the addition will probably be done using the Terry-Grant-fusing-method, which should please both my muse and myself Thanks, Terry.


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