My local guild has an annual challenge. In the eight years I’ve been a member, I’ve participated a couple of times. For the red and white challenge in 2012, I entered this quilt using a wedding ring block. I designed the setting.
I didn’t win. My guild has very talented members.
Really, the goal isn’t to win. It’s to challenge yourself, in the process building skills and creative power.
This year’s challenge, issued last September, is to create a quilt from all solids, using at least three colors. I use solids, but generally I mix them with patterns of one type or another. Last fall I made a small quilt all in solids. It is pretty but not very interesting.
In fact, solids are not very interesting to our eyes. They are flat and don’t provide any sense of depth, rhythm, or contrast. Unlike patterns, they don’t hold attention, as we quickly determine there is nothing more to see.
There are a number of ways to make solids more interesting in a quilt. One is by covering them with beautiful quilting to add texture and pattern, as the famously solid Amish quilts do. Another is to use them in unexpected ways. Unusual color combinations or arrangements of elements can hold interest, even when the fabrics individually do not. In a block quilt, that could mean an unusual layout of the blocks. In a medallion, using asymmetric borders might draw us in. A lot of solid modern quilts successfully break the grid altogether.
I don’t want to spend time making an uninteresting quilt with uninteresting fabrics. I’ve had a hard time feeling inspired to begin this challenge. That changed recently when I saw a photo on a blog. Notice the quilt hanging on the left, obscured by the chandelier.
I don’t know if it is made in solids, and it doesn’t matter. The arrangement of elements — color, value, shape, line — is unexpected, interesting, and held my attention. I sent the photo to my sister and said, “I want to make THAT quilt! Except of course I don’t want to make someone else’s design.”
Challenge: design and make a quilt in all solids of at least three colors. How can I use solids in a new, interesting way? Seth Godin writes:
This is a challenge I can meet. I will try to pull a hat out of a rabbit, turning the question upside down, to do it backwards, sideways, or in some way significantly more generous or risky.
I have a plan and last week I began construction. Since then we’ve had company a couple of times, slowing me down. In a few days I’ll have a finished top and will show you the work in progress.
How do you challenge yourself? Do you seek out new problems? Or do you try to solve problems in new ways?