Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why the Tuning Fork?

I have been in a bit of a funk since I returned from Ohio.  It's ridiculous -- I've been home 4 weeks,  and I have very little in the way of work to show for it.  At least, no work that I like.  It's not that I haven't put in the studio hours, though I will admit that I have found some very creative ways to avoid going into my studio.  When I've been in the studio, well, my heart just isn't in it.  Why is that?

When I left for Ohio, I was flying high.  I've been getting into art quilt shows, I've been winning awards, I have ideas for new pieces and everything has been going very smoothly.  And then, in Ohio, I started to question the validity of my work.  And I made the decision to move on from the tuning fork series.  I started "playing" -- and playing is in quotes because although the word implies fun the process was painful -- with other shapes and other formats.  And I became a little depressed in the process.

A friend told me that I should think about what drew me to the tuning fork shape in the first place.  What is it about that particular shape that sparked my creativity?  I'm often asked if the shape appeals to me because of the musical connotations, but although I love music, I don't think that is the answer.  I have been thinking about this a lot, and I've come to the conclusion that the shape is only a tool.  What appeals to me is the way I can use the shape to flow colors and values across the surface of the quilt.  What I think of as amorphous piecing.

I studied geology in college.  My favorite classes were mineralogy and the study of rocks in thin section.  Geology is in many ways a visual science.  I was drawn to it because I had always collected rock samples.  They appeal to me aesthetically -- they sometimes have pretty crystals, they often have beautiful coloration.  Looking at thin sections through the microscope introduced me to a world of interesting shapes and colors, and the different minerals tended to "flow" across the surface of the slide.  If you would like to see what I'm talking about, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a wonderful website of photos of minerals in thin section.   The world under my microscope was full of brilliantly colored shapes swirling across the field of view.  Magical.

I think that informs my work today.   I like things to flow.

This week I've started to work again on the tuning fork series.  I have a small piece that I hope to quilt today.  I'll post a picture later.  And I have started a large one that I hope to enter in an art quilt show.  I won't be able to post pictures of that, but I'm getting very excited about it.

It's good to feel excited again.

For now, a few pictures of my garden.  It's where I've spent most of my time this last month.


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