Saturday, July 16, 2011

Inspector Body

When I was a kid, we had a book called Inspector Body. It was about how your body fights infections and sickness with the help of a small guy that lived in your brain and told everything what to do. I must be remembering the name wrong, because I'm having no success googling it for more information.

I bring it up, because it had a very particular color palette. I'm not normally a fan of purples and pinks, but in certain combos, it can really work for me.

When the third Project Modern theme was announced with the theme of "Organic", my immediate thought was, "well, gonna sit this one out!". The word organic has a lot of associations, but for me personally, it takes me right back to design school. Our classes were really small, and always with the same people, and after a while, critiques started to take on similar tones. There was one student in class who used the word "organic" to describe people's work all the time, whether the term applied or not. As time went on, it was a word we started using when we didn't know what to say about somebody's piece. Sort of mediocre piece that could go either way? Organic. Bad piece that nobody wants to call out? Organic. Piece that somebody is obviously very proud of but kind of sucks? Organic!

In short, when I hear the word organic, my first though is usually, bullshit.

This is, of course, a view colored by my own experiences with the word. In truth it means a lot of wonderful things.

When I thought about the challenge a little further, I decided to read definitions of the word to see if there was any inspiration there, and the first definition I read mentioned that organic can refer to organs.

As soon as I read that, I knew that I wanted to do something drawing from human organs as inspiration. I thought back to the colors of the Inspector Body book, and knew that there was potential. I decided to abstract the idea of organs into a two dimensional patchwork design.

I like seeing what a really twisty, 3-D system looks like when you match it up with the demands of patchwork quilting. I think the color palette helps sell it as a body interior. I've got lungs, liver, stomach, and large and small intestines represented.

While patchwork can be very geometric, free motion quilting is more like a continuous line drawing. You can have anything, anywhere. I decided to use some traditional quilting patterns like feathers and stippling to mimic the shapes of the organs.

I've never quilted feathers before. I did a lot of drawing practice ahead of time, and then did a practice stem of feathers.

I glanced at it, and proceeded to start the feathers on the quilt itself. I got halfway through the first large intestine section I was adding the feather to, glanced back over at the sample and had a moment of panic.

What had I been thinking? The sample feather looked horrible to me at that moment. The feather I was quilting looked horrible. I had to take a break. I decided to continue on with the feathers, even if they looked awful because I really liked the idea of feathers representing the large intestine. As I kept sewing, I felt better about it.

I think it's true that the quilting isn't show worthy, but it's not awful either. I have to remind myself that things aren't always going to look perfect right away, or the first time I do them, but it's still important to keep doing it. I may or may not get better at making feathers, but I won't improve at all if I don't at least try.

At the end of it, I like the quilting quite a lot. It's not perfect, but it represents a process. I'm glad I didn't let my lack of technical skills stop me from trying to execute the vision I had when I thought of this quilt.


Carol said...

I like it! Very clever interpretation!

Christina said...

SNAZZY. The feather for the large intestine is awesome. Your stitching is so great! I love it when art and biology intersect, thanks for giving me a thrill!