“Sticks” – 2 Successes, 1 Failure


I’ve missed chatting with you, but I’m not going to list excuses. We all have them,  and – I hope – you’re here to share what I’ve been doing in the studio. One side note – my husband and I spent the month of April in Australia visiting family and touring. Will the beauty – and friendliness – of this country influence my work? That is yet to be seen.

In the meantime there’s activity in my “Sticks” series. As I mentioned, this series originated from a Nancy Crow workshop in 2011. In the 2012 workshop I did Nancy’s new exercises but continued in the same series. The result is three new Sticks.

The quilt tops I do in workshops are never finished products – far from it! They are learning tools that sometimes – in this case, two out of three – become new works. Two of the exercises I brought home, took apart, inserted new colors and reconfigured before I was satisfied with them. Here are the results, as yet unnamed. Suggestions are welcome.

Sticks 6 What I did on this one was add some lines and lighten colors in the center, which was rather muddled.



 On this one the lines were originally black on the left (yellow) slide. I changed them so that it brought some of the colors from the right into the left side.


So what happened to the third sticks exercise? I chose to work with smaller shapes – or perhaps that was the assignment, I don’t recall. I also decided to work in a relatively neutral palate. Why do I challenge myself and, after much frustration, come out with zilch? Do you ever do that?

I cut hundreds of 3-inch squares in neutrals, slashed them diagonally, inserted a neutral strip in the middle and sewed them together. Here are the stacks: When I started putting them up on the wall, I started arranging the squares, which after piecing were irregular rectangles. I put them together as light, medium and dark in an all-over pattern resembling chopsticks. Aha! A name – Chop-ed Sticks.

Then I started to sew them together. Ack! The squares – cut and pieced improvisationally – looked good on the wall, but sewing them together was awful. The edges didn’t match; none of them were the same size. I know how to fix that in larger pieces, but these were so small it became frustrating. I decided the only way was to trim the blocks to a common size – 2 ½ inches wide by 3 inches tall.

When I put them up on the wall, they fit easily together, but something was definitely wrong. They were too structured! They weren’t “me!” I took them all down, put them in a bag and relegated them to the UFO basket. I didn’t have a pity party, Jeanette, but I did eat chocolate.

When we fail, it isn’t satisfying. But when we fail, we often learn a lesson about ourselves. I like to work with larger pieces of fabric. I don’t like to work in “blocks.” I like to work improvisationally. I don’t like to match my points and have everything even. Did I know this before? Of course! Every once in awhile I just have to prove it to myself … again. Here’s to more successes and fewer failures … for all of us!


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