I always wonder how artists come up with their designs. Or I should say, I wonder if most artists come by their designs in the same way that I do. Do they say to themselves,'OK, I am going to design now', take pencil in hand, run the lead around a little bit to smudge up the paper and, then, there it is? Or do they pick something up, get a lightning bolt through their fingers, then, hurry up to write it down while their fingers are still sizzling? Is it always the same no matter what genre they are working in?
I used to think that there was only one way for me to design and that was when I picked up a piece of ephemera or special paper of some sort, I would get an impression in my head...a starting point if you will. However, I knew that once I started to work, that each piece would talk to me and the end result usually didn't look a whole lot like the 'impression' I had to begin with. At least that has been the way of it for paper and my muse. Even in the situation of designing to sell products and having to keep in mind that some sweet lady who finally got to retire will be looking at the project and the point was to make her feel that she could do it. Even then, the process seemed to somewhat follow that same little crooked path. Then, along came fabric!
Fabric has been a whole new game for me. I have always used bits and pieces like old lace, buttons and the occasional scrap of something I loved in my art, but until recently, I had not designed with fabric specifically in mind. And oh my, how the whole approach has changed. Although I still love the lightning in the finger tips and still occasionally just pick something up and start in, for the most part, I now use a pencil and drafter's vellum as the first tools I pick up before starting a project. It may be because I am so new at it that all those little resistant rascals that new artists face with paper are now facing me with fabric. But I also think I love the smell of pencil lead a whole lot more than I would previously have admitted. I have come to love the precision of designing a pattern and having to figure mathematically what just comes natural with paper. I mean a tote bag has to have two equal sides for the most part, of course not always, only if you want to actually have it function as a real tote bag. So I stand at my double stacked large storage bins, three to each side, with the bulletin board placed upside down for my drawing table, pull out a generous amount of my drafting paper from the tube and click that mechanical pencil into action. I have found myself just as lost in the wonder of lines from that pencil as that of gesso being sloshed on whatever the substrate. I love plotting the course. Tearing the tote in my head apart to see how it's ticked so I can take notes and use all of my rulers! This ran true of the mini quilt I did and will probably continue for the other purse designs that are sitting up in my private attic awaiting the light of day and the line of pencil.
Now the fun can begin. Everything is drawn out so I will not waste my precious bark-cloth or antique lace or Sulky thread. I throw all the possibilities in piles of what looks good with what and what will be that jazzy thing that only I will think of because it is my baby. I start cutting out, which is probably comparable to getting the substrate ready, which means the boring part that better be accurate or the whole thing will fall apart even before it is put together. Things literally go flying once this is done. The machine is hummin......the gum is chewin.......the music is rollin....and I'm rockin' out with it. And before you know it, be it one day or two or however long I allow the process to happen, I have a finished project. WOW!!!! But the real zinger hit home after completing the second one...I forgot to look at all those careful notes and plans that I so painstakingly put down on that graph paper. Yeah, it was great to cut out everything the same size and maybe all those notes were just for stored information, but I still can't believe that I did all that work and probably really didn't need to. Until it finally hits me. I liked it. I liked it because I got two processes to work out for each tote I did and THAT dear bloggers was the real prize.
So, take a look at the totes I have uploaded now that you know all their little secrets and make sure you see the fun in every stitch that is there because that was what it was all about!