Thursday, October 4, 2012

Epic Maverick Fail

     Now that all of the Maverick quilts have been revealed, I thought I'd share with you the utter disaster that was my first response to the theme.  Maybe this is a good example of an interesting idea gone sadly awry.  Or of how doing more can make something bad even worse.  Or ... well, you can tell me what this is an example of.  I'm not sure.  In any event, since I'm sure none of you reading this has ever had this sort of thing happen in your work, I will use my disaster for its instructive purposes before I wad it up and throw it away.

  My original idea was that homeschooling is a maverick approach to education.  As a home-schooling mom (and one who never intended to homeschool and ended up doing it as a necessary evolution due to circumstances), I realize this all of the time.  We are way, way off of the beaten path in terms of schooling.  So how to illustrate it?

   I started with the shape of a school desk, and I drew one and then carved a stamp of it.  My thought was to have lightly stamped images on the background fabric for texture and the suggestion of an empty classroom -- the students have left!  Clever, eh?  Well, see this stamp?  It was the best part, as it turned out.  I warn you now: it's all down hill from here.


    I stamped it all over fabric.  (No picture, sorry.)  Then I thought I'd do a collage of the things that Miss C and I have been doing in our homeschooling lately.  I figured that even if they were only meaningful to me, I could at least make them look interesting and cohesive through composition and color.  (Turns out I was wrong.)

    So a big red A, because we just finished studying The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. (By the way, notice how the stamp looked on fabric ... too dark, but heck, it was identifiable as a desk.)

 
   Then, because our study of the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette was made most memorable when we watched the Sofia Coppola movie "Marie Antoinette," I included a Marie Antoinette style shoe. (There's a great scene in the movie, which beautifully portrays the ridiculous luxury with which the teenaged Marie Antoinette lived, where she and her friends are trying on beribboned, pastel shoes.)


  And then, because Caroline has been working on anatomy, I sewed a tulle overlay skeleton, which I then highlighted with colored pencil.  Ahem.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.


   At that point, I had a very odd jumble of items (the A, the shoe, the skeleton).  How to make them look school-ish or show learning?  I figured science-projecty labels might help.  So I printed them out on organza and fused those on.  Because, you know, adding writing and sheers and more little bits can't hurt, right? And I needed to balance the red items on the left side, so I added a red apple to the skeleton's hand on the right. Apple.  Teacher.  You get it.
 

  It still read as a confused mess to me.  (I'll digress here to add that I had the vague sense that there were big problems with color, and scale, and contrast.  But I pushed forward.  When all else fails, keep going.)   I know, I thought, I'll overlay a sheer house shape to show that this is learning AT HOME.  And then I'll tie all of the elements together by having ivy (get it? Ivy?  Ivy league?  Education?) flow out of the house chimney and twine around the various elements.  Maybe that will pull it all together, she thought hopefully (or in full-out denial.)

  I cut a big house shape out of a green piece of organza and fused it down.  And stuck it up on my wall, and here is what I had:


  Oh dear.

  And if you thought I'd wise up and throw in the towel at that point, you'd be wrong!  No! Because when all else fails, do MORE!  Ever confident in the power of my beloved Neocolor crayons, I figured that the problem (yes, still in denial) was that you couldn't see the house shape.  So I figured I'd define it by making it darker.


   There.  That's better.  NOT.  The only thing that became clearer is what a disaster this was.  And that, my friends, was the point at which I abandoned it.  Thank goodness, you say?  Yep, that's just how I felt too.

   Maybe that makes you understand why, when I started Maverick #2, that I went in the opposite direction to pale and simple.  Phew, it's a relief, isn't it?



15 comments:

Vicki W said...

It's the failures that make us better! Thank you for sharing it. Most people would not have done that.

Gerrie said...

It had great elements. I appreciate your sharing this.

Terry Grant said...

I am so in tune with this process! Some things will just never work despite all the good things that go into them. BTW, I am totally in love with the Marie Antoinette shoe. Might that show up again, somewhere, somehow??

Terri Stegmiller said...

You definitely get an A for perseverance! Thanks for sharing that. It was a fun read.

Sarah Ann Smith said...

I'm chortling out loud. I confess the phrase "hot mess" did come to mind...lots of good ideas, good elements but.... cut up and use parts?

I'm thinking the contrast between the stamped desk and background is too much... but if you were to cut up the letter, show and skeleton and re-compose (perhaps not in that challenging 12x20 shape, too) you might be able to do something with this. Or just bin it!

On to the next one!

Amalia Teresa Parra Morusiewicz said...

My homeschooling friend Misty hails from Loosiana, so I thought of the Big Easy with it's French, frilly and voodoo in your piece.

I put my finger over the shoe and once I blocked it out the shoe, I like it better... so my thoughts looking for why .... a large shoe when other elements are delicate, not so good, and a large shoe really close to a boney foot, also not so good. I think a good name would be "waiting for the other shoe to drop"...

Absolutely love the stamp you created - What block did you carve with? Moo Carve, Stadler? Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Sleen said...

You are a great writer! I loved reading about your adventure. So! You made your readers happy, that's something, eh? :)

Of course you know I'm loving the carved stamp. Awesome!

Karen said...

Wow, I think that's as bad as my failure. Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes.

Renate said...

Thank you Diane for sharing! What you call a maverick fail to me is a success. Why a success? You have taught me that even our failed attempts can teach something.

Plum Cox said...

I have so much sympathy for you - a kind of laughing through the tears moment! I'm sure that the work isn't wasted, though, and will make fabulous backgrounds for ATCs or postcards..... but I really,really, love your new piece! Well done for having the courage to start all over again.

Deborah Boschert said...

I really like the elements here. The desk is wonderful in its simplicity, the skeleton is awesome and I love the twirly vine. But ... wow, they are not working together. Thanks so much for sharing!

Lily said...

Thanks so much for sharing. It's comforting to know even the best quilters have epic fails!

Dana said...

Amazing Diane! Thank you so much for sharing your process. I know I used to think art sprung from the artist perfectly formed... now I know it's work!... real work!

kirsty said...

Well, you gave me the giggles! At least you recognised when enough was enough...I'm still working on that concept!

Vicki Miller said...

Thanks, Diane, I think sharing mistakes is a good thing, but you are wrong on one point, that is we have all - well I know I have and believe most of us have produced disappointing results - we just don't tell anyone. I'm sure van gogh produced messes too.