The Taos Color Study Series
Taos Color Study No. 7
Back at the end of August I went on a week-long artist’s retreat in Taos, New Mexico at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house. (If you are on my email list, you probably heard about it already.) I “gifted” this creative trip to myself many months prior when I reserved a spot. As I have mentioned a little bit, our family has been in the throes of an interesting couple of years. In-laws passed away, my mom passed away, health battles preceding those, passings, and lots of things to settle afterwards. When this trip came up, I thought, I should really do this trip for myself, then reserved it.
And promptly forgot about it.
So when it came time to plan what I was going to work on, I was a little overwhelmed with lack of inspiration. What was I going to do all week? What was I going to make of this time I had gifted myself?
Taos Color Study No. 9
During that time I had launched my Quilt As Desired Membership, and had asked members to tell me about their creative spaces and specifically their fabric stashes. I designed the Estrela Block of the Month that we are designing and constructing inside the membership to utilize scraps, and prompts to get us all taking a deeper look at all the fabric we have in our creative space.
Do you have alot of fabric? Only a little? Do you like the fabric you have? Do you remember what it all looks like?
What I learned is that fabric stashes and how we use them is complicated and multi-layered (excuse the pun). A large fabric stash can be a source of creative comfort. For example, if the world suddenly locks down again, I have enough fabric here in my space to make all kinds of things. It can also be a source of pride. A large fabric stash implies skill and knowledge to know how to use it, sometimes with you even having to say what you do out loud.
But I also heard from several people if that they have way too much fabric, and they are coming to realize that they can’t possibly sew through it all. At times, their creative spaces have become more of a storage room full of fabric.
And then there was also alot of talk about scraps. Fabric scraps and left over pieces from other projects. Those are neatly (or sometimes not so neatly) stored, and lie in wait for the perfect scrap-busting project.
With all of this fresh in my mind I gather only small scraps for my trip to Taos. I had recently finished a quilt of many shades of solids colors that I was just crazy about. In my mind, I wasn’t finished using all those colors together, so I collected all the scraps leftover from the quilt, added in a few vintage and special remnants I had, dusted off my trusty featherweight Tiffany, and left for my retreat.
Taos Color Study No. 2
Each of the 13 participants were working on whatever it was they brought to work on- personal projects, many different mediums, many different disciplines. (I was the only one with a sewing machine in our shared studio. Thankfully Tiffany is very quiet.)
I started sewing together bits and pieces of the scraps I brought with me. The sewn pieces sometimes ended up being only slightly bigger than the scrap pieces themselves, but I was suddenly really inspired! Why can’t a quilt square that explores color and value relationships be mounted and enjoyed on its own?
I took this seed of an idea and sewed all week, not sure exactly where I was going with it all, but wanting to continue to make what I was making. What a gift to be able to sew and experiment with no real thought needed beyond that? No end use in mind, no purpose other than to see what I make. It was like some sort of weird kind of meditation. I loved it.
I sewed, cut, studied, sewed, cut, studied… I made an Instagram reel of scenes from my time in Taos and the resulting work.
Taos Color Study No. 1
I came home with a small stack of what I was referring to as “color studies”. Each of them use elements of the color palette I am so crazy about right now, and many incorporate beautifully made vintage needlework and thread-drawn pieces. I now understand and have an appreciation for using and creating with scraps and little cherished bits of fabric more than ever. I don’t know if I found any resolution to the complex subject of a quilt maker’s fabric stash, but I’ve thought about it more over the past two months than I have in years. Which can’t be bad.
I will have a selection of these original “Taos Color Studies” available in my shop next week. As always, my email subscribers will be the first to know when they are live on the site. If you are interested in knowing be sure you are on my list.