Randomness and Control
I started two new projects this past week and have come to realize that they epitomize two different ends of the spectrum from randomness to control. This has led me to reflect on these two dimensions of craft, art, and quilting and, well, life in general.
The first project is pretty much all about control in three words: English Paper Piecing. Textiles are, by definition, flexible. However, through EPP we render textiles rigid. We bend pieces of fabric around stiff bits of paper and secure them in place with glue or stitching. We keep them in their paces until we can stitch them all together to ensure that we have perfect points meeting up to create something spectacular. Frequently, each piece of fabric is carefully selected for colour and hue and print.
They can be soft like this beautiful Rachel Porter quilt, Miss Daisy:
Or vibrant and vivacious like Lorena Uriarte’s award winning “Blissful Abandon” quilt.
If you get into fussy cutting (which I absolutely LOVE) you take it up another notch. The sewist (artist) controls each teeny tiny millimeter of where the print fits on the bits of paper… sometimes as small as a quarter inch.
If you want to give English Paper Piecing a try, why not check out Flossie Teacakes “Guide to English Paper Piecing.” Lorena has a chapter in it!
On the other side of the spectrum… I’m working on a design by Jen Kingwell, “Hebe”.
It is all about randomness. Random widths of fabric, cut at different slants, stitched on to 7” foundations, then pieced. I pulled out my now healthy STASH of low volume fabrics and got to work. It turns out, the process was more difficult than I expected. I have a stack of perhaps 50 fat 16ths, other random left overs and scraps, a few at quarters, etc. I ended up really thinking about what fabrics should go together to make them look random. (I’m sure there is some sort of oxymoron in there!)
Annette (notice how that name keeps popping up?) said, “Betsi, just cut up strips, put them in a bag and just sew what you pull out!” It sounded so easy. So liberating. So random. So fabulous. So HARD. AIYEEEEEEEEEEEE.
After I had sewn about thirty blocks the “thinking, planning, testing, deciding” rather tedious way of sewing – which produced blocks that looked like this:
I decided to follow Annette’s advice and cut up strips and randomly pull them out of the bag. That produced blocks that look like this.
I think it is a good thing that I am working both ends of the randomness/control spectrum. Too much control and I might loose the ability to let life happen. Too much abandon and I might forget to ever tidy up my sewing space!!!