Recently I've been quilting more using improvisation. I typically do a bit of research about a technique once I've used it a time or two. In this case, I've used it quite a few times and I've researched. Sort of. Meaning I read a few blogs, looked at quilts, and played with ideas that came to me while I was doing said research.
One of the things I've figured out is that improvisation means basically the same whether it's quilting, acting, or some other form of art. Thus, improvisation means to arrange or compose something without a plan in place. I think of improv as doing something with reckless abandon. Reckless meaning entertaining and abandon meaning no rules.
In the case of acting, improv is to act "on the fly" or without a script. When I taught speech, my students loved improv work. Two or three of them worked as team, playing off of each other. Generally, they pulled a topic from a hat and and began speaking and acting within 10 seconds. One student began a dialogue and the others jumped in, trying to entertain the rest of the class.
I have no doubt that an improv quilt class would be great fun, and I'm considering building a class for a local guild that would use some of the components that I used in my class to get students started. In the meantime, I'm trying to play in improv, and I've been reading other blogs.
In one of my favorite blogs, Sew Slowly, Kaja recently wrote:
One of the things I have been reflecting on is that it often seems to be easier for people to work in an improvisational way when they are using scraps; cutting into yardage is somehow harder. I am as guilty of this as anyone - in fact one of my sticking points is often that I am trying too hard to preserve a fabric when I should be thinking about how to cut it.
While reading her words, I started thinking about all of the fabrics that I have stashed aside. Most of them are complete collections of a focus fabric and 10 or so coordinating fabrics.
Unwilling to cut into the focus fabric, I put the whole set away. Certainly one can't separate a perfect collection! And they have waited. Oh, they are safe. Safe from the person who loves them most! Isn't there something wrong with the scenario?
Thank goodness I've begun pulling them out and using them. It's been difficult, however. I've pulled out two or three sets before deciding which one I'll chance. I've put one or two back after picking up the rotary cutter. I will. I won't. I will. I can't. I won't. I should. I....
I'm as bad as Hamlet trying to seek revenge. Claudius could sleep soundly if I were the one making the decision.
But I'm going to give up Hamlet's ways and make the decision to cut into my pretty fabrics. No matter how difficult it may be. No matter how nervous I get at the thought of cutting. That's the hardest part. Cutting.
Well, first there's the part where I have to decide on a pattern. But using improv allows me to bypass that difficult decision and move right into the cutting part. Maybe cutting into the fabric is easier if there's no pattern decision. Just get to it.
That would be pretty awesome. Just make a cut. Doesn't matter how big or small. It can be straight or not. It can be whatever it ends up being. Oh, wow! That sounds liberating. Reckless abandon, indeed!