A few days after wrapping up Ice & Fire, I had another finish, putting the final touches on Two Complex Shapes on the Friday after Christmas.
It's the second time I've finished this quilt, actually. It was "finished," or so I thought at the time, in 1999, and it was actually the main piece of decor in my old apartment's living room for a number of years. More recently, though, I'd become dissatisfied with its minimal and poorly-executed quilting. With its large pieces outlined "in the ditch" (and some supplementary tieing of the biggest pieces), 'Shapes had always lacked something in the texture department, and in recent years had begun to sag.
I was pretty sure it would look better if I went back in and overquilted it in a denser pattern, but I'm very happily surprised with how MUCH better it looks. The change is kind of hard to capture on film, but it's pretty dramatic in person. Here's what it looked like before:
I like Two Complex Shapes for its uniqueness. I've never really seen another quilt piece quite like it. When I designed it, back in 1999, I was dating a painter, and had developed an interest in abstract modern art. This was an attempt to create a quilt piece inspired by that tradition. The specific design began as a doodle I made while one of my undergraduate students was giving an oral presentation of his term project. When he was finished, I had a design I liked a lot, but realized I hadn't paid attention to a word the poor guy had said. I gave him a "C," reasoning that if it had been an especially good or an exceptionally bad presentation, it would have held my interest better.
The teal fabric of the background was leftover from a set of living room curtains I had made earlier in the year. I picked out the orange to match it for a kind of "corroded copper" combination that I like a lot (I used the same basic colors later for Log Cabin). Cutting out the large, irregular shapes was brutal. I managed to get them more or less accurate, cutting with scissors (!) on the floor of the girlfriend's painting studio. "More or less" accurate -- in the top half of the smaller complex shape, you can really tell that the fabric has been coaxed and cajoled into position.
The quilting pattern -- the part I added this fall -- is a triumph of one-inch painter's tape. Since the background is quilted in those one-inch parallel lines, each of which gets interupted once or twice by the shapes, there were approximately six zillion loose ends to bury once the sewing itself was done. Finally, I replaced the previous slim hanging sleave with one at the standard 3 1/2 inch width, which gives me the option of putting it in shows.
The thing I like best about the new 'Shapes is the collaboration between 1999 Michael and 2007 Michael. I like the younger guy's design, and I like the older guy's machine quilting. I didn't tear out the old, crude quilting and tieing, so all of the old flaws are still there. Plus, there are a few new flaws thrown in for good measure -- this is the quilt, you might remember, that taught me that painter's tape and scissors don't mix. But for all that, I'm pretty happy with it. And, it's done!
The back side looks kind of cool, too: