Monday, August 23, 2010

Sizing It Up

Glorious after Raven's trick changed her appearance.
This weekend I thought about the size of cloth with which I work. After reading Janet Bolton's book (last post) and noting that her finished works, unframed, are small, I realised there must be good reason for this. Afterall, she is an acclaimed artist in the field. I also realised anew that many of Jude's works are of small dimension too. Likewise, she is an expert in her field. So why is it, I asked myself, that as a novice, I tend to become entangled in much larger cloth?

There are clear advantages to a smaller cloth: less stitches, less to undo or discard if necessary, and less 'loss of face' to oneself if ending up scrapping the whole project, easier to change little bits of colour, a stitch here or there, alter a section of border, less waste of fabric trying things out. There is psychologically less risk with designing smaller cloth - especially for a cautious beginner. So why would it be that when the psychological cards seem stacked in favour of small cloth I lean towards the larger, unwieldy cloth? Just the fact the results are quicker, one would think, would be incentive enough to learn with small cloth. I think the answer lies in a deeply rooted drive towards clutter that plagues my creativity. Small cloth limits clutter and that is scary.

I see it like this: a small cloth, say 6 inches by 6inches, immediately restricts. The designs I have in my mind have several main characters and because I am not yet making one or the other more main (in my mind and design plans), I want to spatter each of  them respectfully all over the cloth. Physical spatial necessity dictates that I gravitate to a larger cloth, which I guess, makes an unwieldy attempt at story expression certain of achieving unwieldiness in cloth form.

This is what has happened to my current work - "How Raven Wrecked a Wedding". Furthermore, to ensure that all characters are included, I have added cloth, thus making it even bigger. While it is not huge at approximately, 20 x 15 inches, it feels that I have lost the plot, so to speak. These things in themselves are not bad - they show flexibility, awareness of design, and desire to communicate.  However, I wonder if I would be able to project the essence of a story on a much smaller cloth? I wonder if tending towards bigger, more difficult cloth is in a way self-sabotage because there is less chance of being successful (balance, hue, projection, eliciting of response). Perhaps I am scared of success.

I am going to work on this cloth, as it is, today, then leave it for awhile and try a few experimental small pieces. Some exercises in design. See what I can find out about myself.

Oh, I have so many things to say, I am busting. I'll get them out in good time though.

Have the best stitching day, Gilly.


  1. since Jude's classes, I start small and expand as needed. I find it harder to work small--as though there is no 'breathing room'. every little stitch and piece of fabric must have more meaning since your eye does not have too far to travel along the cloth.

  2. small or large, i struggle with putting the last stitches in, it's all the same. do as the mood suits yourself and for yourself...k.

  3. Thanks Deanna and Kaite, I appreciate your comments. I agree that pleasing myself is the way to go. Better than having an ice-cream treat! G

  4. i think of the small things as just steps to something larger, be it a thought or a piece of art. my big projects are ore personal and are never for sale. and they take a really long time. sometimes forever.