I belong to two quilt guilds. They’re different in size and focus, but each one has provided the opportunity to learn from incredible quilters. There have been times when I’ve dragged myself to a meeting for speaker whose topic I was not interested in only to find that I was enthralled and fascinated by the presentation. I’ve taken advantage of the chance to go on quilt retreats and sew and sew and sew for an entire weekend (with some eating and fabric shopping to break up the day.) I’ve attended workshops and learned new skills. I’ve participated in challenges.
After almost ten years in a guild, you might think that the speakers or topics have become boring or humdrum. Far from it. I was so excited when I saw that one of the guilds was bringing in Esteria Austin for a program – and even better – for WORKSHOPS! I was familiar with her work from the Quiltart list and have long wanted to take a class with her.
Last month I had the opportunity to take the class. It was wonderful. Although she covered the basics of taking a photograph and turning it into fiber art, we didn’t use our own photographs for the class. She provided a pattern. This ensured that we would actually leave the workshop with a piece that was substantially done.
The workshop dovetailed nicely with the art class I’ve been taking. Like in drawing, fabric portraits require looking at values of light, medium, and dark and seeing how they play out in the picture. For this class we used hand-dyed and batik fabrics. I brought some, but I also brought a bundle of marbled fabrics. Esterita suggested I try the marbled fabrics. What a challenge. Although I took the right cheek and lips from one fabric, the rest of the face and neck came from a different one and once I began to use the second fabric, the colors in the rest of the first fabric no longer worked.
There isn’t a lot of value in the fat quarter I used. The lights, mediums, and darks are all close in value. They ended up being light, medium, or dark in relation to the other shades in the fat quarter. Others in the workshop had more dramatic differences between the values in their work.
When I had the my piece up on the wall, the marbling in the cheek and neck reminded me of the gauntness I see in the faces of some of my hospice patients. It also made me think of Deidre Scherer‘s work. Interestingly enough, one of the other participants in the workshop had the same reaction.
I haven’t finished the piece yet. She now has hair and eyebrows, but still needs a blouse. She still has to be quilted. And I’ve been busy sketching, working, and combing through my photographs, looking for the one to do next.
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to take this workshop. I learned several new techniques. It reinforced what I’m learning in the drawing class. And for seven hours I was fully engaged; totally absorbed in the process of creating art. All of my everyday concerns were set aside. There was no computer, no Blackberry, nothing outside the walls of the room. All that mattered was the value of the fabric, and how this piece went (or didn’t go) with the last piece. When the day was over, I had a fiber piece that I can finish without the need for more instruction. More significantly, I left revitalized, refreshed and ready to go back into my everyday work world.