Quilters talk a lot about how they plan – and planning comes in different styles and levels of intensity, if that’s a phrase I can use here. Many now use computer programs that manipulate photos, draw lines and shapes, insert colour or fabrics, putting together images to produce prints on fabric via home printers or printers in the university departments where they study/work then do more processes (print, paint, machine and hand stitch, applique, cutting holes, whatever) on top of that. Others draw up large cartoons, cut each piece out and use these as patterns for areas in the piece they’re working on – an ancient, low tech, but tried and true way of developing a design. Some keep photos, drawings, writings and quotations all organised together in a visial diary, and I’ve seen some incredible albums that are themselves works of art. And plenty of others keep little bits of paper floating around, backs of envelopes, paper serviettes, or tiny notebooks that tuck into their purses alongside the little digital camera. This is more me – I always have at least a pencil and a scrap of paper if not an actual note book or camera with me. Photos I download regularly, but the bits of paper… well, sometimes they turn up months later in a pocket or handbag I haven’t used in a while.
Many years ago after recognising this weak link in the ideas chain, my son gave me for christmas or my birthday – they’re the same week – a fabric covered blank paged book about A4 size, urging me to keep my design ideas in it. I have fairly consistently done so and now it’s about 2/3 used, always in pencil so I can erase if necessary, which I don’t often do, as I think ideas should stand even if they aren’t quite ‘right’ in their form. Occasionally I look back, finding the original ideas that led to particular quilts that sometimes I didn’t visualise as such at the time; so for example for each time I have been in Quilt National I can find the germs of those ideas there though the quilt doesn’t look like the original pencil ‘sketch’. There are ideas I didn’t use at the time I noted them, but what I have diagrammed and written is enough to build on later. Sometimes I go back and write a note on a page/diagram like “this led to Mission Beach , april 1995”
Anyway, I thought I’d share something of the early design process as I know it, with these two unrelated pages being fairly typical:
In another post some time I’ll relate a couple of diagrams to actual works, such as “Ora Banda” and “Mission Beach” I’ll posssibly even show you the one wonderful drawing that I just cannot work out how on earth to put together! I’m pretty good with piecing, even if I do say so myself – a line in my design book is a seam waiting to happen – but this one has defeated me. Stay tuned.