Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Building a Composition

Turtle Spirit II, in progress
by Gayle Pritchard
In my previous post, the central panel  of Turtle Spirit II was finished. By showing you the piece on my working wall here, I hope you can get a sense of how the finished composition was built, piece by piece, literally.

As I mentioned before, I sew my compositions in sections on a tear-away backing. This makes it easier to work with the sections on my sewing machine, and it allows me to join unusually shaped edges to each other with ease.

To the base composition, I have added two side panels of African fabric, each of which features one of my hand-made cyanotype prints appliqued in place. I already envision how I want to quilt these side panels with long, broad stitches in perle cotton, and can hardly wait to begin sewing them! Along the bottom of the original panel is a single piece of unusual striped fabric, to which I have pinned various fabric remnants to be appliqued in place. I like this method of working. It is the same process as when I create a paper collage. The elements are auditioned by placing them on the main composition where it is very easy to immediately see what does or doesn't work. The finished art quilt will also have an additional layer of design, which is the quilting stitch itself. Unless you make quilts, it's hard to describe how much adding that line to the surface of the piece can change the surface, directing the eye in unexpected directions. I can also later add additional layers of fabrics and surfaces, such as stitched and printed attachments, to further enhance and complete the composition. I can respond to the composition throughout each stage of the process, adding and taking away until the piece is finished. All of these potential features are in my mind as I place the elements for this layer of the finished work.
The base layer of Turtle Spirit II, almost done!

To the striped bottom edge of the top's center panel, I added a narrow strip of fabric to create a visual edge. Underneath, a section of African fabric matching the top central panel is repeated, edged on either side with an exciting fabric that has a directional design, and more snippets laid on the surface to consider for applique.

Considering future structural problems, I decide that the two bottom side edges need a fabric underneath them to make it easier to bind the finished quilt when the layers are assembled. (Trying to bind those shaped side edges is a problem I definitely wish to avoid!) I don't want the fabric I use to jump out visually, though, because I like the illusion of the sides being slightly shorter than the bottom central panel. My solution is in the next picture. Ignoring the purple and blue backing fabric, which will not show on the front when the piece is finished, can you tell what I added or changed?

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