background trials

19 Jun

WEEK  TWENTY-THREE – (june 8-14)

I’ve stopped short of my plan to finish more feathers than I need. Another full day would have nailed this task but too much time was spent on other projects and preparation for a trip to Melbourne for a family wedding.

I was also hovering around the piece – as I have been for the last week or two – trialling fabrics to make the background.
Is this nest of feathers placed, with colour suggestion only, on land, on water, or merely framed by a colour to make the prints sing?

blue trialShould there be colour or absence of colour?

neutral trialMy mind sees a rectangular quilt but square may also be better?
I’ve also considered leaving the quilt in its round ‘nest’ness, without having to introduce anything that will detract from the circle or the simple neutral palette.

The conundrum of square versus circle is initially tricky but ultimately it comes down to two things – a circle is hard to engineer to hang crisply and easily AND….quite simply, I’ve rarely been a fan of odd shaped hangings. This is not the time to push past this prejudice.

Melbourne is the ideal place to buy meterage of the fabrics I am thinking of for the background so I need to make a quick decision.
Linen will give me the texture, body and matte quality that should contrast nicely to the silk-satin hemp I have deliberately spread through the feathers.
Usually there is a good colour choice available too – as I will only dye fabric as a last resort.

I also consider how this unfeathered edge will be quilted.
Textural lines to represent land or water?
An array of knitting/stitching illustrations?
All tone-on-tone?
Or do I try to work in a bit of over-the-top ‘Glory Box’. Perhaps bright blue, covered buttons and cross hatching?
I’ve even searched for images to relate to a blokes’ role in feathering the nest. Should these be printed and pieced to form the background?

feathering for blokesAs you can see, I always try to cover all possible permutations, so I also trial lightly colouring some samples with watered down Setacolour.
Perhaps some of the feathers should be colour washed?
It looks great on the samples but is not what I want this time.

colour trialsIn the end my choice is not to shop. I will cover the corners of the square or rectangular ‘foundation quilt’ with more large feathers. The edge will have feather tips extending – so it will not be a strict rectangle. More printing and feather making will be necessary on my return before all the feathers get a backing and placement can be considered.

filling in the cornerThe Sunday afternoon wedding was a lovely end to the week.
It is always a treat to catch up with my siblings, nieces, nephews and now the new and nearly-new next generation.
There is always the chance that I’ll make a goose of myself on the dance floor too – one of the great joys of ageing:)


Jan Mullen

B. Ed. Act/Craft (Textiles/ Sculpture) Living in Perth, Western Australia Artist, Fabric Designer, Author, Teacher.