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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Quilting 101: 9+2 is a 10... Really

I thought it might be fun to teach you a snappy little 'basic' trick. Think polymer clay checkerboard cane... on serious steroids! We all know checkerboards, right? Extrude some solid colored clay, stack, reduce & have a good time, right? And don't get me wrong, I adore checkerboards, maybe more than many, because I only work in large pieces. Checkerboards are great eye candy between primary cane designs & final borders. But, checkerboards do have several 'down sides'. Let's take a peek.

1st, we are somewhat locked in on color - use solids OR for a smidge of creativity... we can 'marble' our color to a degree - but solids are the Only way we have any design control. 2nd, when you are only covering a teansie area, our cane doesn't need to be 'perfectly precise', but on a slightly larger piece like a bracelet, imperfections are obvious. And the the larger our pieces, whether a box, canister or even a larger jar or vase...  the more glaring those slight imperfections. The cane above looks fine, but would be a travesty on a larger piece. Another consideration, although some are blessed with that awesome $250- slicer, most of us are slicing the good old fashioned way. The larger our piece, the more essential it is that we have slices that are of the exact (or at least extremely close) same thickness, otherwise simply smoothing our piece will 'warp' our design.  Quilting is all about absolute precision & control in every aspect of our design - with the added joy of simplicity.

The formal name of this little ditty is a 9 Patch, what the quilting world calls a simple basic checkerboard. We simply roll our sheet through the pasta machine, so ALL of our work is the exact same thickness. Instead of being limited to just solid colors, we do surface work to assure every single centimeter has lovely design, when we choose. I LOVE working in faux Batiks, & have some great ways to reproduce them to share with you... tomorrow. So, 2 big obstacles are overcome, easy cheesy & fun playtime. Now, how does this compare to conditioning, extruding, reducing & imperfect slicing?

1: Set out selected decorated sheets.
2: Cut horizontal strips in desired thickness. ( Often times, I will use 1/8" to 1/4", 
    depending on size of piece being covered.
3: Lay your strips 1 next to another, following the color charts. I will use 4 strips 
    instead of 3 ONLY for 2 colored 9's. 
4: Make vertical cuts equal in distance to horizontal cuts. IF strips are 1/8" tall, then 
    they should also be 1/8" wide.
5: Lift sections of 3 pieces together at once & set these together in groups of 3 per 
    line for 9 pieces total. 
6: That's it, a few slices, set slices in a line, a few slices & set together in groups of 9.
    These entire process takes 2 minutes IF you needed to mist your workspace 1st.

 2 Color checkerboard like you see in this photo.

Checkerboard with 3 or more colors

Ok, we've got a lot of checkerboards, what shall we do with them, beyond 'usual' border type work? Well, you can build 'squares with a few more simple slices that match the height & width of the 9 patch. For example, IF your 9's strips are 1/8" high, then your height & width for 'squares' are 3/8"h x 3/8"w. The REAL fun is selecting the color combo's you will use. Here's a few ideas for some interesting ways to mix em' up a bit. As with ALL clay, it's just a justartig point, our creativity decides our path, right?

   Play with your colors, adds to the fun as well as your layout.

 To shake it up a bit more, add a few extra strips & rotate the 2 blocks. Easy cheesy - looking even better!

Here we can alternate 9's with faux ceramic tiles. Photo is from Connie Kresin's website...
Freemotion by the River . You should follow her, you will learn so much about color & shape from her, she's fabulous!  This design is on my 'To Do list' to play with.

Or we can use a few to build 1 new 'block' as a focal point OR simplify to add borders to a completely different design.

So, when is 9 + 2  a Total 10?

Sorry for taking the long scenic route here. I wanted you to have a bit of 'foundation' before the Really REAL fun begins. Now, you are sitting at your table with a plain old sorry to say 'somewhat common' 9's checkerboard & you want an easy way to amp that beauty up? Simply cut it 2 times, 2 simple sweeps of your blade, like so...

I like to set my 9's on glass over a graph that has all cuts marked so I don't even have to measure. It takes an extra 30 seconds & is instant stunning. And, when you are arranging several together, as with our Kaleidoscopes, wonderful complex designs appear. And. playing with color placement changes the finished look in the same way.

Duty beckons for now. But when I return, I'll bring a cool way to combine our canes with strips in 1 of my all time favorite ways... & I'll leave you with a taste of our next 9's lesson... by adding a few more cuts. 

Have a wonderful day!
ClayPlay Liz

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