Let me tell you, my blogging friends, this is hard. I find myself behind the rest of the class at this point...which isn't the end of the world because I think I already having a good understanding of what comes after today. It will be the same principals I learned for the Four Fabric Forest quilts. For now, I'm struggling to create my pattern. That isn't a complaint, or even a worry. It just is what it is.
So I'm going to try to reconstruct what we've been doing so far today. Ann Shaw is a good teacher. The other students in the class all seem to have more experience with the technique than I have. Several of them have already taken the class at least once. There is a group of three from Alaska who seem to have done some work with her prior to coming to Washington...as if they might have spoken by telephone in preparation and then made one of her patterns.
She spent some time going over one photograph from each of us. We all showed up with quite a few images, and we all had trouble deciding. Since I was seated closest, she worked with one of my images first. She asked me which one I wanted to do, and then she picked out the image of the Adirondack chairs on the beach. (I couldn't tell if this was the one I selected. It all happened pretty fast.)
Whether I wanted to do this image or not, it's still a good one to illustrate what we learned today (and I suspect that's how it ended up as Exhibit A). We talked a lot today about "gesture" in photography. I've read a lot of photography books and learned a lot over the years, but this was my first introduction to this term. It has to do with the movement or connection...even the mood of a photograph. What are the lines and shapes?
She encouraged me to crop the photograph to just the two chairs on the right since they were the most visually interesting, and then she drew a line delineating the portion I'd be working with.
As she discussed "gesture" she asked us to consider what was happening in the photo...what story is it telling? And at that, I piped up saying it was taken when we went to the beach for our 40th wedding anniversary last year. As a story, it made sense to crop it to two chairs representing the two of us. Also, the chairs are facing toward the ocean. Are they looking to the past? To the future? At time? In other words, the chairs represent two people. Just as I'm writing this I'm thinking about how they are sitting on sand, which brings to mind the "sands of time"...and I could go on getting all sappy about this, but I think you get the idea.
This is a technique where lines are drawn and piecing is done in strips and little pieces. She talked about the difference between Ruth McDowell's technique and applique. This image could be done in applique, but it's a completely different technique, involving fusing, layering, and glue. In this case, it will all be pieced, and so our objective is to decide where to draw the lines. One must start with one line. While it might make sense to draw a line dividing the chairs, that also separates them. Ann encouraged us to draw a line that connects the subjects of the image with the "gesture" or the "story". In this case, she chose a line common to both chairs, which will bring them together in the quilt. I hope I'm explaining this in a way that makes sense.
When the line was drawn, it looked like this. You can see how it connects the top of the red chair with the arm of the green chair (okay...turquoise, but "green" is easier to type).
And then she started dividing the image into more lines. The goal is to avoid "Y" seams, and to avoid having everything come to a star in the center. There is more, and I'll use the images of Ann's own quilts to say more about this below.
She did some work on this image of a dog brought by one of my classmates. In this case, the "gesture" is the way the dog is gazing off into the distance, looking at something, and so the first lines capitalize on that.
Some other ideas she gave us were these: This is her quilt of a heron (or something). She talked about the way the heron overlaps the border, which gives the bird a more commanding presence in the quilt.
For this dog, she drew her first line down the center of the dog's head and then worked in some approximate symmetry from there. By doing so, the seam in the middle tends to disappear.
Here's another image brought by a classmate. I'm not sure how well this is showing up, but you can see that it is a grandfather holding his grandchild on his lap. The line is drawn to connect his shoulder with the child. The student had taken the class before and tried to draw a pattern before the class started. When she did, she drew her line vertically between the grandfather and the child...and that separated the two. It's a better design when the line is drawn horizontally to bring out the connection.
The quilt below was made by one of my classmates who has taken the class before. We were simply discussing fabrics here, but what a fun quilt! This is her car...a vintage Bel Aire or something like that.
So, if I'm confusing you with all of this, don't feel badly. I'm confused too. We broke for lunch here. When we came back, I left the class with another of my classmates to have our cropped images blown up so that we could work with them to make a pattern. This took approximately one hour, and it's where I started falling behind.
When I got back, I taped my image to the table, then taped tracing paper over the top and then drew the outside border of my design.
Then, I started drawing in lines. I liked the first ones she had drawn connecting the two chairs, and then I went from there.
It was hard to know how much detail to include.
And it got even more complicated as I went along. By the time I was finished, I had even more lines than what you see in the image below.
Once the lines were drawn in, the next challenge was to make sure everything was able to be sewn together, that there were no "Y" seams, no crossed lines, etc. And then we were to create a "recipe" by delineating certain sections of the pattern as A, B, C, etc., Within the sections we were to number the pieces in the order that they could be sewn together. I'm sorry I can't say this with any more specificity, but in this case, you really have to be there in the class to follow.
At this point, the image itself is less important than the lines. To make it easier to see them, we slid a piece of paper under the tracing paper to make it easier to see. By this time, I was really tired and having a hard time thinking clearly. Also, the graphite was smearing and making a big mess. And...I was just getting frustrated. For one thing, in the position where I was seated, I'd spent the entire day looking at her back, and having her body between me and the thing she was telling us. It meant I was constantly jumping up and down so that I could see what she was telling the rest of the class. And, because I was behind, I felt as if I was having to be fairly aggressive to get her attention. She spent a lot of time with others, and seemed to be waiting for me to catch up. Finally, I just said straight out that I was stuck. It would have been easy at this point to move from frustration to tears, but I held myself together.
I'll say here that I am enjoying the class, and I feel as if I have a grasp on what's going on, but it is more challenging than I'd anticipated. I'm sticking with it, but at the end of the day, my classmates were taking their work back to wherever they came from so that they could finish up...and there was no f*cking way I could do another single thing today. I told her I wasn't going to be able to finish it tonight, and that I'd have to pick it up there tomorrow. No apologies, that's just how it is.
So before I finish up here I wanted to show you a couple more images from today. Here's one of Ann's chickens. There is another two day class taught here just on the chickens. This is also available as a pattern.
Here's a little eye candy from the fabric shop.
She proceeded to check me in, giving me an upstairs room when I specifically said that I wanted a room downstairs. Then she said, "Regarding the double-booking, you're going to have to call--" there I cut her off.
"That isn't my problem. I'm not calling anyone, I'm not doing anything about it," I said. In my head I was thinking, and I have just one nerve left, and you're getting on it. That would be a big mistake.
So, long story short...I have one room...downstairs...and there is just one of me. And I'm hungry and tired. Time to head out for some dinner. Tomorrow is another day, and it's going to be a good day.