Improv process sometimes reminds me of game-books, those stories where the reader can decide how the plot goes on, by choosing between different options at the end of each chapter, thus being redirected to distant pages to continue reading; multiple story endings exist, as a result of the alternative routes taken.
Sometimes I see, inside one of my completed quilts, all the different paths I had in front of me while sewing, all the versions that I didn’t make come true, like the multiple game-book story ends.
For example, during the construction of the columns and rows quilt, I prepared digital images that developed possible options on how to finish it: a full texture overlay; texture fields interrupted by windows. Even if I finalized it in another manner (with an open-boundary network), I still would like to look at the real quilt, and to see, like a hologram, the other possibilities coming true.
Photographing construction alternatives is even stronger in showing me the history of a quilt improvisation path. I completed my first exercise attending the course of Irene Roderick, where I photographed all the different compositions tried with the process named quiltdance. I still love one of such photos, an improv I did not materialize, a “deep sea” version: it had a blue area going down bigger and bigger; it should have contained strange yellow shaped creatures, diving scattered versus the bottom: I still wonder which shapes those creatures may have grown into.
When I pose myself the question on how to check the effect of different composition choices, I can hear the voices of Nancy Crow and Lisa Call, telling me: “Do them all! Work in series!”. I visualize the effort of spending months sewing the remake of all the imagined versions for the same quilt. But, in contrast to such good rule, many other ideas push and wish to open the door; all the unused colors in my fabric stash ask for their turn in a fresh new start. I often remain with the words of Alanis Morissette, singing in my mind: “The good advice, that you just didn’t take… isn’t it ironic?”
In the long run, with some favorite shapes, I still do a bit of work in series mode. I have a few preferred motifs, or concepts, to whom I periodically return. Such as the simple, and evergreen, nested square shape. In the past years, I’ve tried several ways to position squares in a textured field. This month, The Orange Summer Challenge gave me the perfect opportunity to continue such series.
Since the Orange Summer Challenge is still open until late September, I decided to sew a second orange quilt. While participating to the game with a second entry, I didn’t feel the pressure I experienced with my first entry: I didn’t need to try something unusual. I could select something I was familiar with, remixed within new boundaries, i.e. the simple rules set by the game.
Now, my orange squares quilt has become one of my favorite versions of square-based quilts in my series. I can admit it: repeating an exercise serially feels like a good idea.