The first class I took with Jane Dunnewold was a kind of survey course in surface design. We started with dyeing and overdyeing fabrics, and then progressed to painting, foiling, etc. It was a revelation for me.
On the second morning, after my first day ever of dyeing fabrics, Jane got the class together to talk about ‘boyfriends.’ You know, those fabrics that come out of the dyebath just perfect. It is love at first sight. You want them just the way they are. You will love them forever. And you never ever want them to change.
The author William Faulkner advised you must kill all your darlings, and Jane was suggesting just that! Put them in a discharge bath. Or another dyebath. Or paint them. Or something else. Her point was that the first boyfriend is just a start and you can always find another boyfriend, just as cute. Or maybe even cuter.
In my last dye-a-thon, no less than FOUR new boyfriends came out of the dyebath like a Botticelli Venus. Here they are.
Boyfriend 1 is lovely but too loud a background for my samaras series. He is a loose weave linen/cotton blend. Not sure he will take paint or other processes well. I do plan to manipulate him and dump him in another discharge-and-dyebath. Perhaps he will adorn some clothing someday.
Boyfriend 2 is discrete. Subtle. Elegantly understated. Arching stitchlines create the pattern in a lighter blue-green color. This is the one I can change with the least amount of regret. So I will. Problem is, he is silk broadcloth, and will not take too many discharge/dye processes before he is ‘spent.’ I have to be careful not to overdue it with him, because I won’t have infinity chances to get him right.
Now, I REALLY like Boyfriend #3. I love his angles and geometry. The subtlety and more defined random pattern. He is definitely my style and someone I can really work with. He’s silk broadcloth, too. Do I dare do anything else to him?
And I saved the best for last:
Fuschia Boy started out as black cotton fabric. Manipulated in a crazy, freeform energetic stitched pattern. Discharged. Dyed in my favorite color (okay, that was a mistake.). Love his little mirrored images. The crazy overall chaotic pattern. The subtle color changes and not-so-subtle ones. Today, he is my favorite.
But there is this nagging doubt: Am I selling myself short? Is he really this perfect? Can I make him better? Can I combine what I love about boyfriends #3 and #4 to make a long term commitment, settle down, and make a quilt together?
What do you think, girlfriend?