Saturday, November 15, 2014

Negative Space

RETRO:  Before I start this post I must refer back to my last one.  I never mentioned the value of "needle down" for FMQ.  If your machine has it, use it.  It is invaluable for keeping the quilt in place as you reposition.  Also, I didn't mention that I do all my quilting on my Viking Sapphire.  No space for a long arm machine.

TODAY:  Now for a discussion of negative Space:  What is it?  What am I supposed to do with it?  Is it important?

Negative space is a place where nothing lives.  It can be a plain block between colorful pieced blocks or it can be empty space around a central motif.  Note the quilt below.


Look at all that black around the spiral design.  It makes the spiral look a little lost.  I had finally reached the place where I was able to draw lovely feathers and all that space is heavily quilted with trapunto feathers.  I used a dark grey to stitch the feathers.  When you get up close you can see the quilting, but from a distance it might as well not be there.  The spiral itself is all done with stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.

Galaxies detail
This quilt was juried in to two quilt shows and I was quite pleased with that, but didn't win anything.  One judge dinged me for too much negative space.  The other judge found seam(s) that didn't match up.  Two lessons learned and acted upon with following quilts.

What is to be said for seams not matching?  Not much.  It takes fastidious pinning, sewing and persistence to get it right when there are several seams coming together in one place.  Next time I am going to forget the pins and glue baste.

TIP:  If you are interested creating exquisite quilts, it is important to pay attention to technique from the time you cut fabric to the time you finish the binding.  This is critical if you want to show your quilts.  If there is a mistake, the judges will find it!

As to negative space there is a lot that could have been done and my instinct kept nudging me that I needed something in those corners.  I didn't listen.  Another lesson learned!  I could have put a colorful quarter star in each corner or some sort of appliqué.  I could have quilted with a bright color of thread.  I could have (and may yet) added color to the feathers with Shiva Paintsticks.

TIP:  Pay attention to your creative muse.  It is usually right.  A creative muse is a source of knowledge reflecting an inborn sense of design, experience, vision, inspiration, technique, and external learning.  It will guide you to excellence, but only if you listen and act on what it is saying.

Off Topic:  Can you figure out how Galaxies was made?  I'll share that next week.

12 comments:

  1. When I bought my longarm 16 years ago, I paid an extra $750 for "needle down." Every machine I have must offer needle down. It's all about control.

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    1. When people first started talking about it I thought, "What do I need that for? A tap on the foot pedal and my needle goes down." Well, I eventually got a machine that came with that option and now I don't know what I did without it! That is the first control I set every time I turn on the machine.

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    1. Thank You. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Wonderful tips and a beautiful quilt!

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  4. Mardi - your quilt design and your quilting are stunning! What you have to say is also very interesting - great teaching!

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Come by again.

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  5. I would love to have the needle down option on my machine! Thanks for the tips, I'm not likely to enter any shows but could still do with paying attention to my creative muse :)

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    1. I never dreamed I would show quilts either, but that changed. I am sure you can put the needle down with foot or by hand and highly recommend it for FMQ. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. Well, congratulations at being juried into 2 quilt shows. That in its self is an achievement! I couldn't get the picture big enough to really see the piecing, but it looks very complex. I'll look forward to your next post. I am not a great piecer, but I Do love FMQ - and I like FMQ textured negative spaces.
    I'm in the UK, and I think shows are very different. Firstly, very few are juried entry - secondly I get the impression your judges critic are very much more detailed - and in that way, perhaps helpful - than ours. We get a tick box - either the work is needs attention, is OK, good, or excellent. One written sentence if you are lucky.
    As for needle up/down - most useful thing my machine has!

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  7. Your comment was very interesting. I have been thinking of a series on showing quilts and you have given me some fodder for idea development on an international level. I always enjoy seeing your intricate designs. I love both the piecing and the quilting, but am not sure I could come up with as many interesting doodles to sew as you do. Thanks for the comment. Come back soon.

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