Why I Make, Write About & Keep Samples

My regular readers know I always make samples when trying out something new to me – a technique or an idea, problem solving, or just doing a quick aide memoire for later. These bits, rarely more ‘finished’ than this one, tend to live for a while on my pinup design wall, and eventually find their way to the bag I keep samples in. It’s one of those large cheap tartany tarpaulin fabric ones with handles and a zipper that cost about $3. I generally travel with one and find it handy to put the winter coat into for the flight home, as it easily pushes up into the overhead bin.

Looking for a particular sample recently I was rummaging in the green/blue/white check one (batting offcuts go in the red/blue/white one) I didn’t find it, so know it’s in the – oh, never mind, there is another bag too … In this process I went right to the bottom of the sample bag and found this assembly of strips.

From the “OMG what Was I Thinking?” department … (fabric approx 20cm x 6cm)

Now, I’ve been putting fabrics together this way for 25+ years. So familiar am I with my favoured go-to technque for pieced fabric/patchwork that I also teach it as improvisational patchwork. How or why I put this particular group of fabrics particular fabrics together, though, I have no idea. It’s not as if you could do this by accident. There’s no doubt these are my fabrics, the youngest being the lovely swirly batik in greys at the top which I think I bought perhaps 6-7 years ago. And, it’s true, I have had some health challenges and surgeries the past few years, so I may have been ‘on something‘ when I sewed them, but I must have totally lost my mind to lump these particular fabrics together. So this sample is from my “What Was I Thinking? department. I’ve kept it to unpick – there’s some good stuff in there – but threw out a bunch of other odd things from the same department.

These next samples though, are related to what’s on my mind at the moment. They date back 6-8 years, experimenting with hand sewing over laid strips, some of which are fused down, others not. It was good to see them in all together in a group. There’s a lot of information in this group – think ‘shorthand’.

A group of samples of shapes and stips oversewed (for want of a better term) in different ways.

In the past I have machine appliqued quilt designs featuring fabric, leather and mylar strips, and made a whole quilt of fused fabrics over sewn/quilted with red threads (left) and machine appliqued Mylar onto black vinyl with clear nylon thread. (right)

L About Red 2014 hand appliqued/quilted
R Landmarks 2015 Machine appliqued/quilted clear nylon filament

This blog is the nearest I will ever come to keeping an artist’s book or diary. I’ve been writing it for 15+ years, and it’s coupled with some of the things I put on Facebook as Alison Schwabe. I don’t have a separate Artist/Teacher Facebook page – it’s all together because I believe everything in my life around me – people, experiences, things I see, read or watch are relevant, and each is part of what makes the artistic side of me tick.

And finally, a note about making art in the time of COVD-19. Many artists I know claim they are surging ahead, making wonderful new work with all the extra time they have, blah, blah, blah. I am one of those who found the sudden rush of this virus and its effect on my own daily life all a bit of a speed governor on my creativity; and it has taken a while to shake that lethargy off and focus on this part of my life again. Adjusting to the new normal, I’m feeling a bit less hampered now. Wash your hands everyone.

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: