Susan 6-24-09: I finally have something to share.  These photos for the current Spiro project follow the progression of dividing the wedge, symmetry, shorthand, and a drawing I made using Auto Sketch. I use this program to digitize designs for my Statler Stitcher, it is not exact but it gives a fairly accurate representation of the layout of the spirals. And thanks to mirror imaging and arrays, it did not take very long to draw.

Susan W IMG_4525  Susan W IMG_4528  Susan W IMG_4529  Susan W IMG_4532

I played for three days with the mandala concept and have a stack of paper and pencil sketches about half an inch thick, then I played with various versions of symmetry in Auto Sketch. This design is not what I originally had in my mind, it just sort of evolved. [R:  Yes, designing a mandala is very much a process of letting it evolve: it tells you what it wants to be!] I was playing with crayons trying to color the tiny pieces (I couldn’t find the colored pencils). At this point the colors only represent possible effects of light and dark.

Before I continue with either coloring this one, or go in a completely different direction, I would like your comments as to where I should go next. Work on variations of this one, or go for something totally different? Thanks.

RaNae:  Hello Susan! So glad to hear from you and see your progress!

Your design looks great. First of all, the underlying skeleton and the placement of spirals is strong — simple, fits together well, no T-joints. Good work.

As for the coloring: remember that you need variety and contrast to see the design clearly. If you do go with something this subtle and monochromatic, you will need to place lights and darks very carefully to make sure that the design doesn’t dissolve into a solid circle of blue. You have correctly used gradations to accomplish this to a degree; I bring up this point only because it will be critical to the success of your mandala and you need to remain very aware of it as you work out your coloring and choose fabrics.

My other thought about coloring is that the placement of the pink in your design emphasizes the straight lines of the skeleton, rather than the curved flow forms.  If you do decide to keep these straight lines, make sure that they complement the curves of the flow forms, and that they do not interrupt the overall flow of the design.  You’re on your way to a strong design, and I look forward to seeing your progress! Don’t be a stranger!

Susan: Thanks! I looked at what other people have done and a lot seem to be 8 wedges, so I went with 6 to be different. As I mentioned, the coloring didn’t have much thought in it other than the sharpest crayons in the box to try to color tiny lines with some light and dark 🙂 but I definitely see your point about where I put the contrast. And I was just at WalMart and forgot to buy colored pencils! I didn’t finish coloring because I wanted you to see it, before I spend a lot more time on it. I was thinking about some negative space within some of the spirals, but I will be sure to keep the color and lines flowing, rather than linear.

I think I will play with it some more and see if I can make it a little less “star-like”. I also want to play with where the centers of the spirals are placed. Now that I have had a few days away from it, I can see it from a different perspective and maybe something else will evolve. 🙂

RaNae:  Susan, it seems like you’re confidently on track, and I will look forward to seeing what develops as you finalize this design.

Susan 7-18-09:  I discovered that simple is good, but what intrigues me is making the middle of the spiral off-center! It creates some very interesting shapes. I have at least 65 versions on my computer, I have attached some that I did a few weeks ago. Where I get stuck is on the coloring. I guess I don’t quite understand where the colors should change. Do I accentuate the shapes, or parts of them? Once I figure that part out I will get busy sewing!

Susan W IMG_5318  Susan W IMG_5318 markup

Susan W IMG_5317  Susan W IMG_5317 markup 

Susan W IMG_5314  Susan W IMG_5315  Susan W IMG_5316  Susan W IMG_5319  Susan W IMG_5320

RaNae:  Wow, Susan, your designs have really gone to another level!  My favorites are the first two.  I looked carefully at these to see why they seem so different from the others, and realized that it is because you’ve gone outside the wedge — you start with a wedge in the middle, but then went in a different direction, beyond the boundaries of the wedge.  Few people have done this, and I think these are TERRIFIC examples, so would you please do one (or even both, if you’re that excited) of these?  You mentioned simple is good, and I agree — the first one above is simple and terrific, and I think would be really encouraging to someone who wants to “color outside the lines” — whether they are a first-time or an expert.

As for your question about coloring, the colored examples you have above are good.  In general, go for emphasizing the curved flow forms, rather than the straight lines.  However, if a straight line serves a design purpose, go for it.  Within the flow forms, you can color them a solid color (see Betsy Vinegrad or Linda McGibbon), with a gradation (Susan Ott has a couple of good examples) or variegated (see Holly Watson’s Zebra quilt, or Debra Nance’s sketches).  In either of the top two examples, I would probably use gradation — it will give dimensional effects to a design that will really take it to the next level.

I’m curious to see what you would do with any of these in an off-center design. But at the same time, I’m anxious to see you go ahead with sewing.  If you have time to balance the two, I’d be curious to see what off-center things you might come up with.  By the way, take a look at Jill Kerekes’ finished quilt — it’s off-center.


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