Monday, May 2, 2011

Ramona's Happy Village

Ramona's Happy Village (2011)
There is something miraculous about turning little bits of nothing into greatness.   That’s my attraction to collage.  Karen Eckmeier author of Happy Villages: Step into a Fabric Collage Adventure! developed a unique process for transforming geometric polygons into a colorful village.   I was drawn to Ms. Eckmeier’s technique due to my desire to create an art quilt resembling an urban city.  I experimented with her techniques to see if they would help to achieve the city developing in my mind.

Ms. Eckmeier’s technique begins by cutting 6 ½” squares of at least 10 different colors into various polygons.   These shapes are then laid randomly on an 16 ½” square of cotton batting with a dot of glue to hold them in place.  At this point, it looks nothing like a city.    But then roofs, windows and stairs  are added on horizontal planes to make the town emerge.  The entire temporarily glued collaged quilt top  is laid over an 18” square of black felt which acts as the quilt back.  However, something is needed to permanently secure all of the little polygons forming the town.   Ms. Eckmeier’s solution is to layer a square of colored tulle over the collage.  Quilting is added alongside the edge of each shape.  This secures the pieces and prevents the cut fabric from fraying.
Random polygons on batting
Village without roofs & windows

Quilted tulle overlay
My finished piece was very quaint.  It reminded me of a town from a childhood fairy tale.   I liked the way the tulle unified the hundreds of pieces. However,  I’m not sure this is the best technique for creating my urban city.    This is an excellent technique when you’re not expecting a specific outcome or an exact image.   It’s perfect for an artist who prefers letting the creation develop as she goes.   It’s not the way to go for the artist who plans and sketches a specific vision.   Also after experiencing the ease of fusing to secure shapes for appliqué,  I didn’t enjoy using tiny drops of glue to temporarily hold each shape.   Using a product like Wonder Under, Heat & Bond, or Misty Fuse instantly secures the pieces while preventing fraying.   Glue is less expensive, but I find fusing more efficient.  
Many times expense dictates an artist process, but is there ever a time when efficiency and effectiveness overshadows expense?

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