When I started the ‘Make A Quilt Inspired By Music’ challenge, I doubted my ability to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion because I wasn’t particularly fond of the given music, and the primary colour of the piece that felt right for me to capture the essence of the trumpet was golden yellow, not really a favourite colour.
However, over the past weeks, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and have had fun dyeing and printing fabrics and playing with design compositions. I mentioned in a previous post that I chose three elements to work with, (trumpet, orchestra, music), three words (growth, repetition, foundation) and a triadic colour palette to complement the main colour of golden yellow (golden yellow, fuchsia, aqua blue).
In addition to block printing ‘musical’ images, I had intended to screenprint lots of texts but, somehow, it didn’t work, the fabrics looked too busy, and as I wanted a light feel to the finished piece, I decided to keep the fabrics as uncluttered and simple as possible. I also decided to work more with tone-on-tone than strongly coloured pattern.
I also wanted, somehow, to develop the doodles I drew when I first listened to the music, into something usable so designed a repeat pattern, thinking I would use it for the music element, but when I auditioned it, it felt too heavy and busy.
As I worked with potential layouts, the feelings that I got from the trumpet was the difference in pitch and tone so I knew that I wanted a graduated look from deep to light tone, in steps. That led me to the word ‘ladder’ so I developed that idea and played around. I wanted the trumpet to stand out from the orchestra so a central placement of the trumpet element was essential. (My sketchbooks aren’t pretty, they’re working documents.)
I then stitched the pieces together. The colour components worked well and I was happy with the trumpet cutting through the orchestra and flowing up the centre. Where the elements of trumpet and orchestra meet, I used fabric I had ice dyed with fuchsia and golden yellow.
Now the difficult part for me began. I thought a simple matchstick quilting pattern with co-ordinating threads would work well. Planning vertical lines for the trumpet and music, and horizontal lines for the orchestra, I started in the middle and worked rows of closely stitched lines. No, no, no, it didn’t work. The pieced elements went skewiff, probably because I didn’t baste it properly, and I didn’t like the overall look of the stitched texture. The prospect of many hours sewing straight lines, with the potential of lots of unpicking, certainly didn’t appeal.
The dilemma then was whether to try again or leave it unquilted. Though I love to draw with my sewing machine, I’m not a free-motion stitcher, so lots of swirly stitching was out of the question. I decided to try hand quilting using the repeat pattern design that I had made from my doodles. That didn’t make me happy either. I truly don’t like the slightly raised ‘puffy’ surface which the hand quilting produced.
So here it is, my completed musical quilt, that isn’t a quilt!
This is as far as it goes and I’m quite happy with that. I took on the challenge and pushed myself. I loved dyeing and printing fabrics, playing with composition, and also stitching the elements together. But when it comes to quilting, I struggle with large areas. As far as ‘art’ quilts go, I definitely work better small. This one originally finished at approx 90cm x 45cm which I then reduced to approx 70cm x 40cm which works better and helps to ‘tighten’ the composition. Although this isn’t a large quilt, it feels big to me. I have a bed quilt on the go at the moment and when complete, I know the best thing to do with it is to send it off to a long-arm quilter who will make it a lot bonnier than I ever could.
It’s all about working to our strengths and doing what feels natural. Life is too short to be miserable struggling with things that don’t feel right, that don’t work out. Somewhere along the line, you have to say enough is enough. Not admit defeat, because it’s not about defeat, it’s about being honest and realistic.
Carol, thank you for issuing this challenge. From a reluctant start, I’ve had fun, have come to like golden yellow and can see the potential for its use in other work I have planned. I’ve listened to more of Tine Thing Helseth’s trumpet playing and I can actually say now that I like it, especially a version of Rachmaninov I listened to her play, so thank you for opening my mind to delights I didn’t know were there.
A request for red fabric along with its complementary and analogous colours, and some black and white prints, was placed recently so I’ll be seeing red for the next few weeks/months. Will post photos ….
Thanks, as always, for visiting, I really appreciate your interest.