Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Batik Blur

I used to love batiks.  When I started making "wearable art" about 12 years ago, batiks were new to me, and they were perfect for what I was doing. 
 The low value contrast and blended colors worked for quilted  clothing, because after all, not many people want to look like they're wearing one of Grandma's quilts.  Some of my batik stash dates from that period, but I've added to it constantly, finding uses for some of it, but always thinking "Some day I'm going to do something wonderful with these batiks!"

In the last few months, it's been dawning on me that I no longer like batiks so much.  They've become much more common, and often are used in such a way that their already blended look becomes just a blur--there's no pattern left in the quilt.  The popular jelly rolls are very much to blame for this.  Many batik jelly roll quilts seem to me like a big smudge of finger paint--pretty colors, but without any pattern definition.  Now if you love jelly roll batik quilts, I know I'm stepping on your toes.  Don't take it personally.  You can still love them.  It would be a dull world if we were all alike, right?

So--DRUM ROLL:  It's time to use up some batiks! ( It's not that I don't like them at all, it's just that I'm not "saving" them any longer.) I'm making Athena's Puzzle, from a pattern I bought at the Chicago Quilt Festival last spring with the aim of busting batiks.  I love the Greek Key design, so that's a bonus, and it's actually just a simple Courthouse Steps block.

I have a retreat coming up in two weeks, so I'll cut this out and sew it there, and will have reduced the batiks stash noticeably.  The quilt will be fairly blurry, but that's okay.  Nine yards of fabric, plus backing and binding will have been finally used.

I keep repressing the voice that says, "You're going to want that blue for sky!  That blue-green has been perfect as an accent.  No! Not that purple!  You'll be sorry."  So far it's working.


The Calico Cat said...

DITTO! (Except that I came to the realization before the jelly rolls.) I kept some for a round robin that I was in for the eventual "Use batiks" person.

I also kept a few for some vague reason - it has stars, it has cats... But my batik "Stash" is gone. (I do have two 100% batik quilts...)

*karendianne. said...

I like this post. I like how you share your thoughts about starting to change your taste in fabric and I also enjoy reading about what you see changing in fabric. That's a valuable and noteworthy item to blog about and kind of "hold onto" I think. Perfect for looking back on. Fabric does change just like everything else. I like reading about what you see!!!

I hit the link to see the pattern your making. Really a neat one and "yippie" it's almost time for a retreat.

Repression is good for something dagnabit. Continue the practice Grasshopper! :)

Liz said...

Isn't it interesting how our tastes and viewpoints will change over time? I don't know how many times I've said 'what was I thinking?' LOL! The start you showed looks great. Can't wait to see more.

Libby Fife said...

I was mad for vinatge repro. prints which are impossible to deal with in a finished quilt unless your whole house is decorated that way. I never caught on to the batiks I guess because they were always just a bit more expensive.

I have done the same thing though (not used a fabric because I was saving it for something) and the stash just grows and grows. I am glad that you are using your stuff and I had a good chuckle about you repressing your inner voice:)

dee said...

Hi Kay,
I get what you're saying completely. I don't even wwant to display some of the pieces I made 20 years ago. The fabric is to cutesy and doesn't look well anywhere in my home. My general aesthetic has undergone a major change and thank goodness for it. I saved batiks for a long time as well but now all I see is the muddiness of them. I'll keep a few and launch the rest. Maybe it's just this time in my life but I need color and patterns that are fresh and fun.

Debra Spincic said...

You already know that my mission this year is to use it all--I'm not saving anything for anything. There is always something new and pretty out there to tempt me but with shelves stuffed full, I can't buy it. So, like you, I am using it!

Your pattern looks graphic & like it will make a dramatic quilt.

floribunda... aka Julie said...

Kay, that's one of my favorite blocks, so I'm looking forward to seeing your quilt. I've been collecting batiks for years and keep telling myself I need to use up some of the "other" stash before I dive into the batiks -- but that's crazy, right? I have plans for batik quilts but somehow just never get started.

Barbara C said...

Using up the fabrics you've been saving is a great feeling. Your quilt will also be beautiful, because those fabrics are still pretty special. That vest is delicious. It really features the fabric nicely.