Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Serial Work

There's a lot of buzz these days about working in a series. A few years ago I made about ten quilts all based on "the Idea of the City" - each one 60" square...I had one show where they all hung together and it was amazing....

 Working in series is not a new concept at all - Van Gogh made many different paintings of his vase of sunflowers, Edvard Munch produced a lot of Screams!!  Must have been quite hoarse by the end!
Our most famous quiltmakers, also, have always picked an idea or a theme, whether based on form or content and worked many examples of it.  I remember reading with fascination Nancy Crow's beautifully illustrated first book: Nancy Crow, Quilts and Influences, (only $5 second hand on Amazon, an amazing bargain), and seeing how she would take some formal idea like three or four strips of fabric, joined and then cut into squares and rearranged and make many different examples of it.

And, of course, the Log Cabin pattern, one of the most traditional of traditional quilts has numerous variations.

So, why work in a series anyway?  Why did all these people do it?
 What is so helpful about doing it that most major artists, in no matter what medium, all seem to do it?

And the Big Answer, the Most Important Answer, is because it works!  yes, this particular mousetrap is worth beating a path for!  Serial work leads, almost inevitably, to better work.  I say "almost" because you have to keep pushing, not just iterating.  Serial work doesn't mean developing a formula and sticking to it for the rest of your life no matter how stale it becomes - we've all read those awful potboilers, and I'm so disappointed when an author with great promise in his or her first few books gets caught up by the great "publish and prosper oligarchies" and starts churning out one stale hamburger after another.

And if you want to know more about serial work, I just happened to have written a book about it!! I promise there are going to be no potboilers, or stale hamburgers issuing forth from my keyboard, however!  The book is on Amazon: Working in a Series, published by C&T.  Or you can contact me for a signed copy, I still have a few left. (link on sidebar at the top).  Or you can sign up with the Academy of Quilting for my Working in Series class which starts this Friday.

Take a look at your own work - you might be surprised to find out that you've been serializing yourself!!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading.............Elizabeth


Margaret said...

"See" you in class... :-)

Vicki Miller said...

Currently reading the book and will join you on friday - can't wait!

Melanie McNeil said...

I've been making medallion quilts and learning more with each one. My local guild had Laura Wasilowski present last year, and she talked about working in series. That's when I realized that is what I've been doing.

I'm glad to have both of your books now. I haven't been doing any art quilts, but I find a lot of the material overlaps anyway, because it is on design. We ALL benefit by that, as long as we design our own work.


Elizabeth Barton said...

thank you so much for signing up for the class! we'll have fun - and learn a lot. Melanie - thank you for buying both my books; I'm so glad you find them helpful and inspiring...yes designing your own work about your own life and feelings and thoughts is what it's all about.

Renate said...

I'm so sorry that I missed your class at Academy of Quilting. I have your two books and have started reading them. Will you be holding this Working in a series class again?

Elizabeth Barton said...

Yes, the class will be running again later this year...and also next year...all the classes I do with Academy of Quilting rotate..with occasional gaps when I go gallivanting off to foreign parts!!