Sunday, 15 April 2018

Fish Out of Water

Finishing up Klenk Junk was really the first big project I worked on in my new, too-small sewing space. I hadn't gotten many scrap-happy hours under my belt when it became very clear that the setup wasn't gonna work... I really missed having a cutting table in the room. Sure, putting up a temporary folding table out in the hallway worked, but only in a pain-in-the-ass sort of wasn't a great solution at all. Problem is that the giant vintage butcher block that I absolutely adored simply does not fit in this wee house and sadly it has been relegated to work bench duty in the garage. What. A. Waste.  But in the spirit on moving onward and upward we won't dwell on that part... the Fatboy doesn't mind sharing his space with the beautiful hunk of furniture!

Anyway, a trip to Ikea and a mitt full of gifted Christmas cash solved my problems. Turns out their counter height desk not only fits the big cutting mat but is also high enough and wide enough to provide a hidey-hole hole for two rolling carts. Holy scrap taming possibilities, Batman! This setup rocks! The wheeled carts provide a bit more horizontal work space when and where you need them! My wee cutting mat sits atop one of them and often ends up beside me at the machine and allows my improv slicing & dicing to happen in a stationary spot; cutting to the left of me and pressing to the right.

Sorting the big piles of scrap proved to be an intriguing exercise for Mr. Recipes and he dove right in to help me sift the bits into the respective low volume, Kona and print drawers. It was while he was sorting that he found random bits that pleased his colour loving spirit and he went ahead and made himself a little pile of favourite scraps.  Once all the scraps were stuffed into their new quarters he presented me with his pile of scraps and said, "Make me something with these!" Of course I smiled and said, "Those? All of them? They don't really match...can I add anything to it?". His answer was simply, "I just like these. I'd rather you didn't. " I'm sure the look on my face was priceless and I know my brain kinda went, "hubba-wah?" but I just took the mish mash from him and put it in a bag, tucked it under The Robot and left it for another day. I was gonna have to chew on that for a bit. It wasn't long when a fire began to smoulder in my brain... that old familiar feeling of must-get-idea-out-now was burning in my brain and I set to work.

First a background. Then some stuff to make it a scene. A tree. Some landscaping. A fish.  Wait... a fish? Under the tree? Ok. Why not? Wait... maybe two fish.

And then the border.  The center scene was so busy. It needed something to frame it, to ground it; a spot for the eye to feel a bit of relief. In the pile there was a selvedge string of Essex linen and the frayed, soft edge really drew me in. So I rooted in the scrap drawer for more. There was just JUST enough. I even had to piece it to get enough length to allow me to mitre the corners. The fringed bit really worked for me... it lended a soft edge to the madness within.

And then I decided to make a scrappy checkerboard border to round out the piece and get in some more of the itty bitty, colourful pieces that Mr. Recipes picked out. So I cut and sewed. And then I cut and sewed some more. And guessed it... I got bored. I hate repetitive sewing. That's when I started putting in some longer bits within the checkerboard. My 1" finished checkerboard border was thwarted by laziness... but, I liked it.

And then it was done. Well, almost.
I trimmed out a lot of the bulk from the back, all those layers of fabric under the appliques creates a lot of unnecessary thickness that sometimes makes quilting a bit tricky. It was after that task was done I decided it needed one more fish.

Some wild, super colourful backing fabric chosen by Mr. Recipes on a trip to Avonport Discount Fabrics, some quilting done at a MMQG sew-in and a black binding finished it up and framed it rather nicely. I got to hang Fish Out of Water in my hair shoppe and enjoy it for a few days before it went off to Fredericton to hang in Mr. Recipes office at Veterans Affairs. He gets lots of fun and interesting comments about the piece... folks seem to enjoy it a lot! Certainly while I had it in the shoppe with me it was QUITE a conversation piece...and really complemented my commissioned mermaid painting, by my very talented friend and local artist Sarah Irwin.

There is something about creating with wild abandon that moves me.
Tossing aside all the rules, forgetting all about the "should" and the "shouldn't", putting the "why not? " ahead of the "why?", and just going for it really, really makes my heart sing! Projects like this feed me...they remind me to push the boundaries, to step out, to keep dreaming, building and exploring.


  1. Yeah for your creative brain. It's a great piece. Glad to see you getting back into the swing of things.

  2. Your fishes out of water is a great piece. It is fun to just let go and run with wild abandon sometimes!

  3. I love the colour and movement of this piece! Thanks for sharing the process.

  4. SO much goodness and HAPPY in this post! Hooray for the new storage/cutting setup and that piece with the fishes is SUPER! Love finding your posts in mt blog feed ...

  5. This is brilliant! Psychedelic and fun. Not pretentious--free. and yet.. still a quilt. Truly a work of art.

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  7. I concur.... It is indeed a superlative work of art.

    From the colours in the body to the myriad references in its tiny border squares to our ongoing journey together, and the love that radiates brightly from it, this piece tectonically moves my soul.

    To meet by happenstance and then find myself sharing my life with one whose gifts transcend art forms as singularity divergent as words, food, quilts, and paint, I find myself more often than not lacking the words to truly paint a picture reflective of the kindness, joy, and light that is inherent to this lady’s existence.

    I am inspired by her brain, her writing, her art, and her face, but never more than by her artist’s soul.

    Notwithstanding her troubling resistance to consistent usage of the Oxford comma, she is the very embodiment of this non-artist’s lifelong self-description as an artist enthusiast.

  8. *singularly

    Damn fat fingers.

  9. so great to see this in person and read again how you made it.