Monday, February 13, 2006

Thoughts on the Design Wall

I was excited when I figured out a way to include a design wall in my tiny office. I bought two styrofoam insulation sheets, covered them with batting, and screwed them into the wall behind the door and over my file cabinet. It's not a huge space, but it allows me to see most of what I want to see on a decently large quilt.

You can see it here... the quilt is crunched up on the bottom right where files are sitting on my file cabinet. This top is about 54 by 54 here, so you get an idea of the size of the wall area.



But recently, I've become cautious about how I use the design wall. I quilt in bursts, time wise-- I don't work on one project days on end until it's done. Instead, I start something and usually work for every possible moment over a day or two, in that burst of early enthusiasm. But then work and family and other activities intervene, and I'm left to work on it at odd times in between. And, during those "off times," my current project sits up on the design wall.

I took a great workshop from Karen Stone some months ago (the Cinco de Mayo quilt with complex New York Beauty type blocks which take a while to make) and she mentioned in passing that she'll work on them, one block at a time, but she doesn't set them all up on her design wall. She stacks the blocks in a box, and then each time she works on the quilt, she has the fresh excitement of seeing the blocks again and being surprised at how she likes them.

Bing! Lightbulb moment for me! She's expressed something I hadn't even begun to articulate, but that I was starting to discover through experience... When I leave something up on the design wall for days or weeks, I stop seeing it with fresh eyes. It becomes less interesting to me. Originally, I thought that something up there would keep me thinking about it, even while I had to sit at my computer to do other work. And that's true, for a day or so. But beyond that, I'm finding, the thrill and the desire to move it forward wears off, somehow.

The quilt shown above is a good example of this. I've been working on adding a pieced border to these blocks, and I had about 2/3 of it done, pinned in sections to the wall. Then I had to switch gears to other deadline projects, and I found that I didn't get excited looking at it on the wall. I took it down and put it on the "finish this soon" shelf in my newly tidied closet...and now, not having seen these blocks for about 2 weeks, I'm excited about it just pulling up that picture for this entry.

So, nowadays I'm trying to be judicious about what is up on my wall and for how long. I'm working on my aerial view landscape, for example, but I'm not getting big chunks of time right now. So I'm keeping it rolled up on my sewing table where I can't see the front until I unroll it to start work anew.

Another thought about work in progress: I work in such weird stages, and on several things at once, that if I only showed things on the blog that were totally finished, I wouldn't have much quilt stuff to show. So, I've been posting things as I go...sometimes in progress in small increments, sometimes revealing it first when I get it to a presentable stage, like where the top is done, maybe.

But now I'm thinking that it might be useful TO ME to not let myself show stuff until it's finished...So, as Melody says, the desire for the "a HA!" reveal moment will help push me to get it done. I apply that rule to my work for showing things at my art group and quilt guild.

I'll probably keep doing what I'm doing, posting along the way, because I like it so much when other artist bloggers do that. I love seeing the process.

Still, I'm thinking about this.

1 comment:

Scrapmaker said...

I like to see work in progress, but you should do what's best for you.
I think taking things down from the design wall is good, but sometimes I don't want to lose the layout. I started using cheap fleece backed vinyl tablecloths. Put one up, arrange the blocks, take the whole thing down. The blocks stay together, and they are portable if you take them somewhere else to sew. Jen