Monday, June 23, 2014

lily's quilt update

So when I last worked on Lily's quilt-in-progress (in January!) it was looking something like this:
Which I ultimately scrapped, because I just wasn't digging it. I ripped out those seams, cut up the fabric panels and made some flying geese, a block I've never made before. I was thinking I would do something like this:
I found this on Pinterest and don't have any info about it, other than it is a very cool quilt. So I tried my version of it for Lily:
I had actually sewn the whole thing up with the white side panels and everything when I decided I just wasn't totally digging it either. Sigh. So I got the seam ripper out again. Started looking at Pinterest again. Saw this quilt:
And thought, hey.
So that's how it ended up. Well, actually, I ended up adding two more narrow strips of the black and white polka dot fabric to right and left sides, but you get the picture. Mailed it off to my quilting ladies in Michigan this afternoon. If I were to do it one more time (ugh), I think I wouldn't have put those random polka dot squares in the white panels in exactly that fashion. It feels a little too balanced and deliberate to me. However, I know once it's quilted the contrast between the polka fabric and the white will be subdued and I'll feel much less aware of those patches. Or so I think (hope).

Saturday, June 7, 2014

pressure and pleasure

I recently finished my first ever commissioned quilt. When I first started making quilts I couldn't imagine wanting to make commissioned pieces. I was too drunk with all the possibilities swirling within my own head. The idea of collaborating with another person felt like an unhappy compromise. Too close to what I did for a living every day, maybe.

Sewing started out in some ways as a reaction to spending 10 hours a day in front of a computer screen. After punching out at work, the last thing I wanted to do at home was to sit back down in front of a Mac. I've never "designed" a quilt on a computer. I've thought about it - done a couple "sketches" in Illustrator, but ultimately, that process (then and now, at least for the time being, never say never) just doesn't appeal. Process is paramount for me. No, actually pleasure is paramount for me. If I were to design a quilt on a computer, I would then feel compelled to execute that design as flawlessly as possible. There would be no room for improvisation or happy accidents or whimsy. It would feel like a lot of pressure. I don't like feeling pressure. It is in no way stimulating to me. It is the opposite of fun, and fun is the only reason for me to make quilts, dig?

Cut to early February, three months into my current sabbatical (layoff), and my friend Charlotte asks: are your quilts available for common folk to purchase or are they strictly museum acquisition pricing levels? Pffft, I replied, they are totally available in whatever budget you got, sister!

I sent her jpgs of all my available finished quilts, but none was really the right size/color. She was looking for a birthday gift for her partner, Roz, something that would work in their bedroom on a Queen-sized bed. I told her the best thing possible would be for me to make something specifically for them. I've known Charlotte and Roz for a few years now, been to their home on several occasions, but never seen their bedroom. Charlotte asked us over for dinner and afterwards we all tromped to the second floor of their beautiful brownstone to survey their bedroom and talk logistics.

I think they were a little nervous. I was a little nervous. But also really excited. I took some phone snaps of their walls and artwork, their rugs, the chair next to the fireplace. I asked them some questions. I tried to weigh how much they were committed to the reds in their bedroom, how much importance to give the William Morris pattern on the armchair. Roz said she like asymmetry. I started thinking about what I could make that night in bed while I fell asleep.

In a few days time, I sent Charlotte a short design rationale to get her feedback:

She gave it the thumbs up so it was all systems go. It didn't take that long, actually, and had I not come down with the worst flu on earth in the middle of it, it would have been done in under 5 weeks as I had proposed. Still, I delivered it to her 2 days before Roz's birthday so it was all good. I even had time to photograph it on our bed before delivery.

I have to say, I was really pleased with how it came out (this is rare for me). Though Roz and Charlotte were possibly ideal clients, I would love to do this again. It was a fun sort of problem-solving - like the best design assignments.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Not a sponsored post. Unless you count the open bar.

After my trip last year to France and Spain (a birthday gift from my squid mother), I made a small Blurb book of the snapshots I took to give her as a thank you. I made a copy for myself, too. I decided it would be just images - no text. Writing exactly the right thing seemed like too much pressure and I wanted the process of making the book to be as enjoyable as the trip had been. Blurb has templates for non-designers to use, as well as a new software program called Bookwright which evidently provides the tools to help non-designers make custom layouts. I used the InDesign to pdf option. When the printed books arrived in the post, it was really very exciting to have a printed and bound actual thing to hold in my hands that contained all these great memories/experiences. I presented Linda with her copy this past Mother's Day while we were back in Ibiza. I told her I had had to leave out a lot of images to keep it to under 75 pages. She suggested I do a second volume and well, that's just what I did (delivery due sometime this next week).
first book.
Blurb has had a couple promotional events here in the city the last couple weeks. There was one in Chelsea a couple weeks ago that I went to because a book artist I admire was giving a talk. Brian Dettmer does these crazy things to books - slicing them up and cutting through them to reveal the interiors. They are insanely precise and kind of mind-blowing. These images are from his flickr page:
Brian Dettmer
Brian Dettmer
Blurb was hosting the event (with 3 other speakers) (plus open bar!) to promote an international contest they were having called "Unbinding the Book." They were looking for people to really push the boundaries of what a book could be and the winning entries (12 in total) would receive some dough and an exhibition opportunity. It was an interesting event held in a pretty incredible space. Lots of folks made use of the terrace and the skyline to take selfies. In fact the person presenting the speakers made a joke about it, asking everybody to come back inside so they could start the lectures.
Brian Dettmer speaking.
view from terrace.
night falls in nyc.
so pretty.

So this week there was another blurb party at the Refinery Hotel roof bar celebrating this new BookWright thing as well as the fact that you could now add an ISBN number to the books you make through Blurb and sell them on Amazon. Which is pretty cool, in truth, particularly if you are a self-publishing author. Anyway, glamorous location and yep, open bar? I'm there.
refinery hotel.