Thank you, Jess, for having me here on your blog to talk with you about a subject that is responsible for about 80% of the reason I am drawn to being a quilter—that is color! If you are familiar with my blog Gone Aussie Quilting, you will likely find lots of vibrant saturated color mixed together in bold combinations. I still consider myself new to this art we call quilting, I am untrained in any artistic way, yet that I believe is what has kept me unafraid to experiment with my craft and to use color freely. I must admit, I am not a color snob, that is to say, I do not dislike any color. In the fashion that a foodie will eat anything, I will use all colors in my work and like to combine them with the enthusiasm of a chef trying out new food combinations in the kitchen. In a very similar way to food, not every color combination will be to everyone’s tastes, but I firmly believe that in order to create something that works, we must first let go of our prejudices and fears and try combining colors using our instinct and passion as our guide. I have a tendency to live my life with grand ambition and a “more is more” philosophy. This translates to quilting in that my quilts tend to be larger in general, but also that I tend to use more fabrics and more colors within a quilt as well. You can see an example of this in a project that I am working on currently (a few years in the making) of a quilt that combines literally hundreds of fabrics and colors, my Japanese + and X quilt.
As important as it is to choose a variety of fabrics, I also find that placement is as important. In this case, the green highly contrasts next to the orange and makes a serviceable background for the block. My approach with this Japanese + and X quilt will be to keep the colors of each block as its own independent color story. Each block will then be placed next to similar colored blocks to create a wash effect across the quilt. This idea was inspired by a vintage quilt I once saw on an Ebay auction long ago that intrigued me. This quilt has been an experiment for me in playing with color without the usual mode of using a background neutral as a resting spot for the eye. A typical approach might be to use a neutral low volume print or solid fabric as the background fabric to create a restful place within the quilt. For this quilt, I wanted to experiment by using color contrasted against color to see if by arranging colors next to each other if I could make the chaos settle.
Another example of using color contrasting against color you can see in my current attempt to make a New York Beauty quilt.
This quilt still in its infancy is an experiment of using all highly saturated colors and placing them so that they lie next each other far enough along the color wheel so that they don’t run into each other.
In a completely different approach to the use of color, I would like to show you some of the blocks I am currently making for my Steam Punk quilt. My goal in this project is to use muddier low volume fabrics and then use the brighter colors sparingly in order to make them more pronounced. This is a trickier task for me, as my natural tendency is to overkill my work with vibrancy and saturation. I started by picking fabrics from my stash that are murkier in order to focus on what I am trying to achieve with the Steam Punk blocks.
This murky palette is not over stimulating and will provide the right balance to let color shine through. You can see that the Steam Punk blocks have as many different fabrics as in the Japanese + and X quilt, but the background choice has allowed the color to come through and pop out at you.
As with the Japanese + and X quilt, each block keeps its own color story and will be tied together by using single grey sashing that will unify all these block into one quilt. Somewhat different to the way that the murky fabrics allow colors to pop through, using all one neutral light background fabric has a tendency to brighten the entire work.
These churn dash blocks look fresh against the light low volume background fabric. Sometimes I find it useful when I have a specific idea for a project to do some research via the internet and Flickr to gain some inspirational color ideas. I had an idea for a project a while ago to work with colors of the 1950’s, the only problem was that not having lived during the 1950’s, I wasn’t sure what the colors of that time period were exactly. I searched 1950’s cars on Flickr and ended up creating this collage with the colors that seemed most prominent.
This is just an example of how you can approach choosing color for your projects. I’m still not sure if it will be a project that I pursue, but I wanted to show you that sometimes researching an idea from a different angle can lead you in a direction you might not have thought of previously. I hope this has shown you a few different ideas on how to approach color within your quilting projects. My best advice is to trust yourself, you are here for your enjoyment. Let your work be a reflection of yourself first and foremost. Don’t be afraid to try something new as we are evolving creatures after all! Thank you Jess for having me on your blog to talk about one of my favorite subjects!