There are many steps in the creation of each piece, large or small. It begins with dyeing my own fabrics. Pre-washed sheets are torn into manageable segments, dyes are carefully mixed, and a very wet, messy process begins. I do a lot of experimenting at this stage, combining various colors and techniques. I won't see the results until everything is rinsed, washed and dried - the rewarding part of a long day.
Next I'll head to the studio, where the majority of the work takes place. The first step in the design process is selecting the fabrics, which can be quick if I have an inspiration, or can take days of auditioning colors for a larger piece. I've learned to use templates (cutouts from poster board) to play around with before I move on to choosing colors. I begin cutting out and arranging leaves, animals and filigree for an applique quilt, or cutting strips, triangles, etc. for a pieced quilt.
For a pieced quilt like the one on the left
For an appliqued quilt
Once I get to the sewing machine, most of the design work is done, and basic skills take over to stitch everything together. Then it's back to being an artist to complete the piece with free-motion quilting, filling in the background with textures, circles and swirls. I use the sewing machine like other artists use a pencil, creating my designs in thread by focusing on both the positive and negative space. I like a balance between open areas and heavy coverage, and work intuitively to fill in my backgrounds. I know from the start whether it will be a good quilting day or not - there's a flow that needs to be happening. If that's not there, I put the work aside for another day, and maybe clean the studio?