Wednesday, January 2, 2013

shoofly a new year's project

first blocks using two plaid fabrics gifted by Jason Alexander
Last week when I was thinking about how to use some fabric that I have for a DCMQG challenge. These fabrics are a collection of Madrone Road prints. Five little one eight yard squares are to be turned into something quilted by end of this month. Since I only have those fabrics in small supply I started looking around for a new block design I liked and wanted to try. Studying a book on the basics of block designs as they are seen by the folding of paper "origami"  helped. Kei Kobayashi's 520 Quick and Easy Patchwork Designs published in 1993 gives me all the basic designs broken down into groups of numbers of squares that make up a square block in a zillion different ways. It's mind blowing to see them all drawn out in simple black white and gray formatting. Luckily that book also has a few full color heirloom quilt examples to help the quilter visualize possible uses of these simple graphics. The black and white designs become a skeleton to build your block designs in your choice of colors. I was thinking about how to divide the Madrone Road fabrics up into light, dark and medium values when I came upon the idea of making a test block using some other fabric.
laying out pieces to build each set of blocks on the  ironing board 
 During my Christmas visit to Manassas, I was given some old clothes by a friend as  I was showing him some of my quilting projects. Jason Alexander and his wife Maria are fun people and live the good life following their dreams. He makes pottery and teaches and they are in the process of building a home and studio in the woods... I began making a Shoofly block the day after Christmas and New years day I finished the 28th block using two woven plaid fabrics from Jason and a number of my blue and white fabrics from my recent projects. It's always exciting to be in the process and usually snow balls once I get a pattern going. This was meant to be a test block project for the Madrone Road fabric challenge and seems to have expanded into something much bigger. Who would have thought that such a small bit of fabric could inspire so many blocks.

Also inspiring me was another gift, the beautiful new book by Denyse Schmidt Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration. I got permission from this book to substitute a few like fabrics that were not from the same sources, they look alike enough to pass and add some sparkle to the finish collection of blocks. Doing this reminded me what my color teacher, Mary Buckley, always told us to do when working with color "add sparkles, glitter" or some feeling of a brightness to make the work live! Leaving off some of the perfectly matched fabrics and adding the almost matched is a real relief to the eye but I know it is unseen at first glance.

Here are the images of the blocks, now I am trying to sort out what the blank spaces will be filled with to finish to top. Will I use white like the felt wall, pebble gray print- a neutral with texture, darker blue or perhaps a light lavender, then there is a surprise orange? Those are a few choices I have to make before I take the next step to complete this top and any suggestions from you readers are always welcome.

some of the mixed up shoofly blocks on the white felt wall

shoofly blocks on pebble gray

shoofly blocks on warm blue
the orange option 

yellow on hand recommended by Elle


Elle said...

What about a pale yellow? Very fun, as usual! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure you were asking, but I really love the shoo fly blocks on the warm blue background. What did you decide to do with the Madrona Road fabric? I'm making a very small coin purse out of tiny EPP hexagons.
Linda F.

Frederick said...

Thanks Elle, I am looking at yellows. I had a plan to do a yellow and blue project but not sure this is going to be the one.
Linda, I haven't done anything with the Madrone Road project yet. your EPP purse sounds cool. Guess you are going to have a lot of scraps left over...

Carolyn S. said...

I love it on the warm blue also. They look great, Frederick. I so enjoy the traditional, simple graphic blocks.

Jessie said...

I third the warm blue. And how fun, to start a quilt with clothes from a friend. I have a whole box of old shirts but have as yet not cut them up.
It made my heart soar to hear you talk about color, about how something that doesn't quite match relieves the eye and makes the quilt (or other art) sparkle. My favorite quilts are always the ones that use color in this way. Can't wait to see it live.

Frederick said...

Thanks Jessie and Carolyn,
I posted on facebook and got so many answers to the question of which color to use as my background it's kind of sad I don't have enough to do everyone's choice. I love color and color was my favorite class in art school. Glad to hear you responded to my idea of the sparkles Jessie. I am trying now to give the project a bit of a modern twist so stay tuned!