Saturday, January 05, 2008

Two Complex Shapes: Done

It's Another Finish, People!!

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!

I can see the patch, but I bet you can't.

The back side looks kind of cool, too:


Su Bee said...

VERY cool! The quilting had to be perfect on that, and it is -- great job! I like that concept of meeting your past life; makes it a real journey.

Exuberant Color said...

it looks a LOT better now. I have had the same thought about some of my old pieces not having enough quilting.

gl. said...

oooo, i really like the back! black on black texture rocks.

Jennifer said...

I'm trying to remember whether this is the piece I was looking at in your old mint ice cream colored apartment when I said something along the lines of, "Um, Michael? I thought that quilts were supposed to be, well, quilted," and you said, "Hush! Let us never speak of this again!"

But then I've never been very obedient. :-)

Jennifer said...

P.S. I always think of this one as shouting coming through an old-fashioned telephone, like in a cartoon.

Shanthala said...

Ah, I see...or maybe. The 2 orange bits are the shapes. I guess I was reading more shapes!

Rebel said...

I like this quilt.... it's really funky and unique without being weird. The additional lines of quilting really improve the quilt. Although I'm a big fan of 'in the ditch' quilting myself, I think tieing is cheating. =P

Good job, and I totally can't see the patch, in fact I've forgotten which color got snipped.

Rebel said...

In fact, the more I look at this one, the more I like it. There's a 3 dimentional aspect to it... in kind of an Esher-esque way. I kinda want to make the shapes into blocks, but they don't quite work, so there's visual movement - which parts stick out, which parts fall back. Kinda like a Rothko painting.

Michael5000 said...

Shanthala and Rebel, the two of you are really making me look at my own quilt in a new way! Since I designed it from the "two complex shapes," I've never really thought to look at the other shapes that can be found in it, especially in the blues. Fun!

Jen, it is the same piece you remember. I've heard people mention telephones before; my version of that is thinking of it as a map of the British Isles.

atet said...

The quilting really looks great on this one. I also like the fact that it is a bridge in your creative life -- remembering who you were and celebrating who you've become. (ick -- did I really sound that stiff and like a Hallmark card?) As for the grading thing -- um, I would have to admit that I may have done something similar a time or two.

Heatherbee said...

Wow. I love this one, though Rebel has said pretty much what I wanted to say about it. My eyes keep trying to make it into solids. In fact, until you confessed to having just designed the red shapes, I had credited you with much deeper geometric intentions. :D It's beautiful, anyway. And I agree with the comment that it's original without being, well, weird or ugly.