Solar Blue

I could make all kinds of excuses for myself about my blog writing performance over the last couple of months, but I think instead, I’ll just say–I’m back.

One of my goals for the summer was to actually complete new work while out in McCarthy. My studio is still really just the living room of our cabin–but soon, very soon–the the pile of lumber behind our woodshed will be a super cute solar power sewing studio. In the meantime, this is my work space.

I know this doesn't look like much,  but it really is everything I need. I enjoy working in McCarthy with limited supplies. It's a different way of stretching myself creatively.

I know this doesn’t look like much, but it really is everything I need. I enjoy working in McCarthy with limited supplies. It’s a different way of stretching myself creatively.

And this is my sewing machine. I think I have finally found the best Bernina model ever–at least as far as the non-computerized versions are concerned. This is a 1030, and she is a rock star with every feature I love and nothing else.

Seriously, this is an amazing machine. I know it might sound weird but the foot pedal on this Bernina gives me extreme stitching control.

Seriously, this is an amazing machine. I know it might sound weird but the foot pedal on this Bernina gives me extreme stitching control.

The last component of working out in McCarthy is the amazing solar system Walt installed last summer. I can iron without a generator! Sewing machines take very little power, but getting an iron hot is a huge suck on your energy system. I very much want to thank the Sustainable Arts Foundation for awarding me the funds to purchase the solar system I needed to create my work out in McCarthy.

With my systems in place the only thing left was for me to do the work.

When I start a new quilt, I sometimes trick myself into getting going by just telling myself, “All you are going to do Maria is create a quilt out of scraps.  That’s easy. You can do that.” Somehow, making the goal small instead of lofty makes me get in there and do the work. If I start by saying, “Maria, you must make a masterpiece.” I freeze.

So here are my scraps. I’ve made several blue and white quilts and these bits are all  left over from those projects–some are more than ten years old.  I love having bits from one quilt show up in another quilt. It’s as if they are characters, and they are showing up in each other’s stories.

Okay, my design wall in McCarthy needs to be improved. Or to put it another way, design walls should not be located in the corner of a room, but that is the space I have.

Okay, my design wall in McCarthy needs to be improved. Or to put it another way, design walls should not be located in the corner of a room, but that is the space I have.

I started piecing with the goal of just using these bits up. This was my first idea.

It very much looks like I was just using up scraps.

It very much looks like I was just using up scraps.

It was okay, but nothing special. I decided to add some more of the pieced quilt blocks into the quilt.

Blue Solar Version #2Now I was starting to get somewhere, but I didn’t like the vertical lines I had created. My figure-ground relationship just wasn’t that dynamic. So I got rid of the those lines.

It's not done, but it's getting there.

It’s not done, but it’s getting there.

Finally, after three days of work, I was on to something! There is a point in each of my compositions when I lock in. I know where I want the piece to go, and now it is just a matter of cutting, stitching, and ironing.

Can you see the changes from one day to the next. In my mind it just keeps getting tighter and tighter.

Can you see the changes from one day to the next? In my mind it just keeps getting tighter and tighter.

And then throwing it all up on the design wall and moving it around. So I did that for another two days. Honestly, this is the most painful part of the process. Over and over again, I moved things around. I analyzed how each bit works with the next bit and then how they all work together. It’s micro to macro over and over again.

Until finally the pieces all fit together in a way that makes me feel at peace. Ahhhhhh. That fleeting moment of satisfaction that comes with creating a realized compostion.

As you can tell, I ended up piecing a bunch new bits to finish this composition. Many of those new bits didn't make it into this quilt and are now fodder another scrap quilt.

As you can tell, I ended up piecing a bunch of new bits to finish this composition. Many of those new bits didn’t make it into this quilt and are now material for another scrap quilt.

Solar Blue is my first totally solar powered quilt composition. I wanted to name it something that celebrated that fact, but the quilt was blue not red or orange which could easily be about the sun. Finally, I decided that we’ve got good solar juice when the skys are blue. The fact is the sun is always shining, but it isn’t always sunny. It’s only sunny when the skies are blue.

I’m sharing this post on Nina-Marie’s blog as part of her Off the Wall Fridays. Check it out. Lot’s of great fiber art from around the world can be found there. Just scroll down to the bottom of the post to see the links to other artist’s blogs.

This entry was published on August 19, 2013 at 11:20 AM. It’s filed under Quilt Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

14 thoughts on “Solar Blue

  1. Thanks for documenting and sharing your process. It was so interesting to see the birth of your quilt. Perfect name!

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  2. I love seeing the photos and reading about your work processes. So inspiring!

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  3. Enjoyed your post….and the step by step progress….another wonderful creation!

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  4. Yes, I agree with Sandra and Leslie! I hope you are well Maria! xoxo

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  5. I love it, Maria. My favorite color in abundance.

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  6. Thank you so much folks for all the good comments. You inspire me to keep stitching!

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  7. Norma Schlager on said:

    Love blue. Love this quilt!

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  8. I admire your persistence and the use of your existing resources. As for the name — perfect!

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  9. I enjoyed your attitude, process, and results!! Stitch on!!!!!

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  10. How exciting to see your creativity at work and to know you also have a Big “B” Bernina. I too have had the next non computer 1230 for many years, the second sewing machine after Jerry bought me my first, a Necchi that rattles to repair my underware threaded in white for laziness. He knew what he was doing alright. With three sons each we both know how to hem a pair of jeans in a jiffy. Of course the serger, Bernette came with it for a $100 then so the jeans were even easier to hem. Keep up the good work. Even though I have never met you, you are my favorite relative married to Skip who could be a twin brother to Dave, my middle kiddle. Hope we get to meet you some day in SC. If I can arrange for you to teach here, would you come stay with me? Meet Dave, 2 hours away, to compare and see if I am imagining things. Carole

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    • I would love to come teach in South Carolina! I also have a 1230. They are beautiful machines. My students tend to like the 930 best as it really is dummy proof. Again, thank you so much for saying hello. Maybe you and Sue can come up here for Sew Fun. It would be a great Alaskan adventure.

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  11. Pingback: 2013 The Year in Quilts | Maria Shell

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