Monday, January 13, 2014

Tension is good for you!

I came across a natty little quote from Diana Vreeland, the grand lady of fashion, the other day and it so much pertains to the art of quilts (as well as the art of dressing well) that I wanted to pass it on. 
She said:

“A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika.  We all need a splash of bad taste – it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical.  No taste is what I’m against”.

And havn’t we all seen those quilts that are so bland and tasteless?  Adding a dash of paprika ( or the equivalent thereof)  here and there would help SO much.

 It’s strange but I’m currently working on a sweater that has a sort of Gees Bend-doesn’t-quite-line-up idea to it – 3 front panels of stripes that don’t quite match and the colors I’d chosen were soft and pretty and neutral but oh so safe and oh so dead.  Headed off to the yarn store and what did I come back with but a small hank of paprika wool!!    This was before I read about Vreeland too!!  Weird how sometimes the same idea will come at you from different directions.

They used to say that human beings sought homeostasis – getting everything into perfect balance: everything just right, no tension, no worries, no unexpected, unplanned for events, everything at the right time and in the right place.   But soon they figured out that our minds and hearts and bodies begin to atrophy when everything is just right.

We all know (I think by now!) the Ps of good design – the principal principle (oh what a lovely use of the two spellings of the same sounding word) – of which is: unity with variety or tension or edginess.  People often ask me what tension or edge would mean in the context of a quilt design – I think Vreeland summed it up well: “a splash of bad taste”
Something that doesn’t quite match, isn’t quite in harmony with the rest, is contrasting, perhaps a little out of place but by whose presence the whole is made so much richer, more personal and more authentic.

So please…go and add a little paprika to that dull quilt blocked out on your design wall! 

Apologies for the long lag – due to holiday festivities, a further bout on crutches (well I did need the upper body exercise) and, most recently, a major storm which destroyed all our cable utilities....thankfully now partially restored - just as I was about to go into internet DTs!!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth


elle said...

How good to be set free from matchy matchy! Don't ya just luv paprika! The sled dogs delivered my book, Elizabeth. Thanks so much! Hope you are up and running soon!

Dolores said...

I do think that a little unexpected spice is a great thing in a quilt. It's nice that you can see the benefits of being on crutches. I hope it won't be for too long.

Elsie Montgomery said...

Interesting how paprika turns a bad taste into a palette pleaser! Good thoughts for a very grey and dull day here. I think I need some bright red...

Georgina said...

Its a tricky thing though isn't it, (apart from taste being a matter of....taste!). My father always used to impress upon me that in order to subvert one needed to know how to conform and he would point out that fact at odd moments such as when Les Dawson did his off-key piano playing - There - he would exclaim - he can only do that because he is an accomplished pianist. Picasso was another favourite exemplar for his theory. So perhaps we are allowed to do safe for a little while, before we spice it up, but spice it up we must!!