My life as a quiltmaker (for chronological order, read oldest post to newest)

Friday, December 21, 2007

31. Windshield Wash

In at least one previous entry, I've suggested that there are quilts I shouldn't have finished, and here is one I've considered in that light. Yet even as I say it, I know that despite design flaws, a quilt like this one can still cover a bed or keep someone warm. It's only that I can get discouraged when lots of time and great effort aren't enough to make the effort "great." Confusion reigned throughout the making of "Windshield Wash", and only stubbornness saw it through to the end.

Inspired by a photograph of a wet windshield, I noticed the clarity of shapes created by windshield wipers and the blur of rain outside those shapes, and began what I thought of as a sequel to my hubcaps quilts. In retrospect, my first ideas were probably the best: I began by using sharply delineated prints within the "wiper" shape, and blurry, hand-dyed fabrics outside those areas. However, that isn't what is pictured here, because right away I received two very different bits of feedback from two people whose judgment I trusted. One said: "keep going, it's working" while the other said, "oh-oh, not enough contrast". Then one of my sons took a look while visiting and added a third notion of what direction the design could take. That did me in for a bit, teaching me that there are vulnerable moments in my creative process when I probably shouldn't ask for a critique. Knowing when I'm ready to hear feedback without melting down is an art unto itself. I scrapped what I had so far and tried another idea. And a third. And a fourth--the one that is pictured here, with dotted fabrics interspersed with small fabric pieces graded from light to dark. But over time I had lost heart, lost vision, lost the excitement of seeing what the image would become--lost all but the desire to get it over with. I completed six windshield shapes and doggedly pursued setting them into a quilt. I got too fancy and too clever, trying to do something different and eye-catching--and did I mention complicated? Simple would have worked better.

BUT--I like the quilting: big thread and big stitches inside the windshield shapes contrasting with tiny stitches and regular quilting thread in the curvy strip-piecing. I love the beautiful backing (lower right above), which gives good weight to the quilt and highlights the stitching. I like the fabric with polka dots and watercolor streaks that suggest splashing raindrops. I especially like that the quilt is finished and has a useful life. Best of all, I like the wavy piecing that caused me to continue exploring curves in my next quilt, because the next quilt finally led me into the new millennium and the new direction I'd been waiting for.