Sol LeWitt’s Patchwork Primer

Sol LeWitt's Patchwork Primer_final

Sol LeWitt’s Patchwork Primer
Quilt #135 of 200 Quilts
47″ square

sol-lewitt

It started with a catalogue my father had of Sol LeWitt’s work, and I read it cover to cover, bookmarking different pages and ideas of his, impressed with his breadth and depth and interesting ideas.  I selected this image, “Fifteen Etchings,” thinking it looked sort of like a “how-to” or primer of sorts, for dividing squares into quilt patchwork.  You can read more about my process and sample some of LeWitt’s notes on getting to work in *this post,* including the 6900 variations of the arrangement of quilt fabrics into squares (maybe I’m exaggerating a bit).  The fabric I chose to use was Mirror Ball Dots.  After a long hiatus (I started this in March of this year), I finally got it out, pinned it and got the quilting going:

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_quilting the quiltI started in the middle, quilting in between the lines of dots.  In the neighboring color, I sewed the other direction, and so on, around the quilt.  I changed out thread on each color, but used my go-to thread in the bobbin: Bottom Line, by Superior Threads.  I lowered my upper tension to keep the thread balanced in between the layers so no white popped up to the top and no colors popped through to the back.

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_binding

White binding (what else) goes on next.

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_detail

I think with the combination of the dots on the fabric and the quilting, it reminds me of what I envision a 1960s quilted jacket might have looked like.  I’m sure my sisters had them.

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_quilting

The backing is a Marimekko fabric of large grey blossoms over an acidy-yellow background.

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_back

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_label

I included the picture that inspired me on my label.

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_stainedglasslook

I love the “stained glass” look of quilts, shot from the front when they are illuminated from the back.

SolLewittPatchworkPrimer_front2It’s nice to have a finish!

Now here’s your quote on creativity for today:

“The creative act is not an act of creation in the sense of the Old Testament. It does not create something out nothing: it uncovers, selects, reshuffles, combines, synthesizes already existing facts, ideas, faculties, skills.  ~~Arthur Koestler, in the 1960s

Goals for Fall 2014

SeptDec2014 Goals

I used to belong to the FAL thing–“Finish A Long” and loved loved it.  But because of my personal lifetime karma of Never Winning a Prize, I decided that while it was still beneficial to make up goals, I just didn’t have to link into an enterprise to announce them.  It’s enough for me to use some colored pencils and write it out.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Sol Lewitt's Patchwork Primer

1. Finish quilting and bind the Sol Lewitt Patchwork Primer Quilt.  I started quilting this at our retreat in July, but it has sat for nearly a month now, partly because of LIFE and partly because I wasn’t sure I liked what I was doing.  If I had to rip it out, I only wanted to rip out a little bit.  Time to get it out, evaluate and finish it up.

Colorwheel Blossom Quilt Top

2. Quilt and bind and for-heaven’s-sake decide on a name for this.  It’s gone by Rainbow Blossom, Colorwheet Blossom, Colorwheel Petals, that iPhone Logo quilt and too many other names to mention.  I bought the thread at Superior Thread the last time we went through St. George so there should really be nothing holding me back (except: how do I quilt this thing?).

Reina Fabric

3. Create and cut out (at the very least!) my Mexican Day of the Dead quilt.  It would be a near miracle if this were actually DONE by the Dia de los Muertos, which is November 1st, but at least it made it onto the list again.
CrossX Quilt Blocks January2014

4. Oh, yeah.  This.  It’s was a cool swap I did with KristaStitched and the top is supposed to be done by September something-or-other (better go and look it up).  The other quilters in the group are going to be done, and I’ll still be lagging behind.

FrontSideYard Plans

5. Redo the front and side yard landscaping of our house.  Here is the *before.*  Stay tuned for the after, when they  will probably have to wrap me up and take me off to some quiet location, and feed me all forms of chocolate and Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls 24/7 until I recover.  (I’ve had Cinnabon on the brain lately.  Good thing they are far away.)  And yes, we’ve already made about 45 changes to the above plans, but it’s a good start.

I’ve added back in some of the usual need-to-be-finished culprits: 3 skirts, the Good Luck Quilt (which I can hardly remember what it is, but I do know where the fabric is), the QuiltCon Pastels challenge (which should be landing on my doorstep anyway).  And you know I’m just like you that I could probably rustle up about ten more projects to throw on this list, but I won’t.

TerrySteegmillerArt Heart(from *here*)

I’m hosting the Good Heart Quilters in a week for Quilt Night at my house on September 5th, Friday.  If you’re in the area, come and join us! (And Good Heart Quilters?  Can you RSVP and let me know how many are coming so I can set up enough tables? Thanks.)

Selvage Blocks Aug 2014

And I’ll leave you with this: my five completed selvage blocks.  I’m not in a rush on this project.  (Good thing.)  It’s nice to have something to pick up for those days my brain can’t handle one crisis.

Finally, some thoughts on finishing from here and there:

One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done. ~~Marie Curie

I really enjoy the finishing part of the painting process. It’s like performing the Beethoven Sonata when all the hard slog has been done to make it a possibility. ~~Leoni Duff

Ovid gets the last word:  Either do not attempt at all, or go through with it.

FMQ Lollypop Tree & A Beauty Shot

FMQ Lollypop Tree

I started free-motion quilting my Lollypop Tree quilt.  It has sat for nearly a year while I did Life and thought about how to start.  I had quilted my Christmas Treat, but the spaces there were more wide open with fewer appliqués, so this one was a bit of a challenge, managing the quilt bulk and keeping the density of the stitches evenly spaced.  I still have a few more details to take care of, like stitching around the trunk of the tree and across the leaves where they join the trunk, but after two-and-a-half hours, one block is done.  Look at the tab above if you want to see the entire quilt.

Helpful sights: a Pinterest board with lots of filler ideas, Leah Day’s commentary on filler backgrounds, and multiple videos (not linked).

And I promised you a beauty shot.  Here’s my Sol Lewitt’s Patchwork Primer quilt top, in my outdoor “photo studio.”

Sol Lewitt's Patchwork Primer

I also put this as my home screen on my phone.  It makes me smile.  Hope you are smiling, too, as you enjoy your weekend.

Sol Lewitt’s Patchwork Primer

In class this semester, one of the types of poems that we studied were “form” poems, or poems that have a prescribed meter, rhyme scheme, and even construction, such as a ballad, a sonnet, or a villanelle.  Many poets like to write poems in this constrained forms, especially if they are difficult subjects, as the nice, tight boundaries help keep the poet from going off the rails, sloppy and wandering.  Likewise, every once in a while, it’s good to put one’s brain to a task with similar constraints, just to see if it can be done.

sol-lewitt

This quilt started with this drawing from Sol Lewitt: “Fifteen Etchings: Straight lines in four directions and all their possible combinations.”  Lewitt is famous for his wall drawings, where he would draw up a certificate with a set of instructions or descriptions, and others would execute them.  This drawing would serve as my shape boundaries.

SLPatchworkPrimer start

And my fabric boundaries?  I had purchased a stack of Mirror Ball Dot fabrics two years ago to go with the few I already had, I decided to use these as my parameters for this quilt. Those shapes, these fabrics, and I started cutting last Saturday, after grading seventeen essays in a 24-hour period (yes, the brain was fried). I started laying them out, beginning from the upper right.

SLPatchworkPrimer beginning

I cut, added.  Rearranged.  Went to bed.  Cut, added, rearranged, asked my husband what he thought.  Cut, added, rearranged, took a photo, then pondered.  It was harder than writing a villanelle.

SLPatchworkPrimer Near End_1

Until I got to here.  Then it was like this:

Photo Montage SLPP

All. . . Day. . .Long.  I was purposely leaving that last square on the lower right white, for that’s where Lewitt had the writing, the description.

SLPatchworkPrimer-3

When I got to this place, I rested and began to doubt myself, completing ignoring the advice he wrote to Eva Hesse, a fellow artist, which included some of the following (with some edits):

Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, hair-splitting, nit-picking, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!

He continues:

Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool.

Then finishes with:

Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistent approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!

So I called my sister in Philadelphia and sent her some images, and we talked about changing the design, adding another block and what kind of block would it be?  She suggested some time with Photoshop, a tool to help me move beyond my stuck place.  In an obituary in the New York Times (Lewitt died some years ago), the writer noted that “He [Lewitt] took an idea as far as he thought it could go, then tried to find a way to proceed, so that he was never satisfied with a particular result but saw each work as a proposition opening onto a fresh question.”

So the fresh question brought me here, where I think it will stay.

SLPatchworkPrimer Quilt

And yes, that block lurking on the right is an alternative block, which I am leaning away from.  Borders (plain white) will be added last.

A primer  (prim-mer), according to the dictionary, can be as a child’s first book of reading, helping that child to decode and unlock the words on the page.  I doubt Sol Lewitt had any inkling of patchwork, steeped as he was in the fine art world, but when I saw his etchings, I recognized them as sort of a primer for what we quilters do: divide and subdivide and go at it again and again, always looking for that fresh question.