26 April 2015

Second thoughts on journal quilts

My first thought was to make a frieze, month by month, carrying one or two elements forward onto the next JQ - here are the early plans, which included printing and stamping -
By the time three were ready and one halfway there, I was getting frustrated, not really sure where the frieze idea was going. And doesn't the shiny fabric make them difficult to photograph!

Along came "the wrinkly pieces", an offshoot of preparing organza to be dipped in porcelain slip. So I started a second series.  

Days before the deadline for posting the quilts on the JQ yahoo group, I have the first four ready; they are definitely not a frieze, and don't really "journal" anything ... but they have been a chance to try out a few variations of a new technique -

The individual "wrinkly pieces" are mounted on stiff interfacing and backed by black fabric with a torn edge. Usually torn edges give me the heebie-jeebies, but both the organza and the backing has been torn, and I'm managing to cope with all those frayed bits - perhaps it's the subversive thrill of tearing the fabric, something that would never get past the Quilt Police!

The middle layer is cut slightly smaller than the backing, which is 6"x12". Sometimes the ruched organza ends up a teeny bit smaller than it should be, and the edges of the interfacing need a touch of colour (dilute acrylic paint, usually) to prevent a stark line.

They started from the flat pieces made for dipping in ceramics class, which included metallic fabric and threads to get dark areas in the finished, fired work -

which evolved into a lot of stitching on synthetic organza -
This became "February"
Used in "March", along with a central section embellished with beads
The threads are pulled up tight and the bundle is put in the steamer -
After the threads are released, the fabric is "simply" sewn onto the backing.
What are these JQs about?
The joy of stitching, mainly. There are probably 4000 stitches in each JQ, but it's running stitch and goes quickly. The small pieces are easy to handle, and carry around, so I stitch while on public transport (seating permitting), or while listening to the radio. Pure pleasure, as is choosing the colour combinations.
Where are they going?
These were made in rather a hurry and all in a bunch, so there hasn't been a chance for reflection or for development. At the start I had planned to add beads, as in one ceramic piece where they melted into flashes of colour, but this seems unnecessary when the threads themselves can have such interesting textures. Using compatible fabrics as blocks of appliqué, or joining fabrics before stitching, seem a simpler way to get variety or start to move toward "something" as yet undefined. 
How are they made?
I choose colour of fabric [will steer away from the very dark ones in future!], any bits for "applique", and the sequence of colours for the thread. Stitch length, and the relation of stitches to each other (random or aligned) is a last-minute decision. After stitching, the threads are drawn up and wrapped around the piece, which is steamed for half an hour, then unwrapped carefully and stretched out to the required length. The thread ends are stitched into the middle layer, catching down some of the fabric. Finally the backing is hand stitched round the edge.
The firmness of the pleats gives a lovely bounce to the surface!

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