I hope no one’s bored with book covers yet. I’m making a cover for a 12” square sketchbook – though I expect it will be more of a notebook, really, with drawings. Somewhere I can jot down ideas and designs for Red Bubble.

Book cover in progress

I’ve always enjoyed seeing red and turquoise together. It started me thinking about the concept of clashing colours, and I’m not sure that I agree there is such a thing. In my experience, you can generally put any two or three colours together and they will sit side by side fairly happily. Red seems to go with pretty much anything; so does purple. I think there is the potential for a problem when you put too many different colours together, but even then you can generally tone them down by adding some black and white.

Front cover, about 12” square

The main problem I’m having is trying to get an accurate photograph. If the red is right, the turquoise is wrong, and vice versa. Suffice to say the colours are richer and deeper in real life.

Moon flowers

The design initially started with the red circle, which is a piece of shot silk from an old sari layered over a circle of felt. I was going for a fairly obvious red bubble, but then the little flowers popped up and it’s turned into a kind of moon flower arrangement. These things happen. I find the thing that grows organically in its own way is usually better than the thing I was aiming for. You just have to trust the process sometimes. The turquoise background is pieced together using strips from the edge of a hand-dyed vintage tablecloth. You can see the creases, which formed the edge of the cloth where the fabric had been doubled. They won’t iron out, and in any case I quite like these scars from a previous life.

And then I found a piece of really ugly fabric. I don’t often have dye disasters, but this poor thing was definitely one of them. Usually you can rescue a disaster by over-dyeing it, but I think this one has been over-dyed a few times and never looks any better.

A dye disaster

But actually it looks ok here. It looks as if it has found its place in the world. Maybe ugliness is as much in the eye of the beholder as beauty. Maybe there is even no such thing as ugly. Beauty is, after all, one of many problematic cultural concepts that just excludes the non-conforming. It’s not exactly a match made in heaven, but then most of us can rub along ok with most people most of the time. Perfection is virtually unattainable. I will settle for OK on this occasion.

The back almost made itself. I already had the patchwork circle, pieced a while ago when I was gathering together some scraps of red print. These are mostly shiny/glitzy silk and satin, fabrics I wouldn’t ordinarily use much. But put them together, cheek by jowl, and they seem very happy.

Patchwork circle, paper-pieced, about 9” diameter

I often think auditioning fabrics to see which of them looks good together is a bit like sending them on a blind date. Sometimes they instantly find true love, and sometimes they never want to see each other again and end up back in the drawer. Eventually there will be something for all of them, even if that turns out to be solitude. Some fabrics don’t need others; they do just fine on their own. Some need company. Sometimes which of them ends up together is more luck than judgement.

Red and gold glitz

Author: Karen

Textile and mixed media artist

6 thoughts on “Matchmaking”

  1. I’m with you all the way about red and turquoise … one of my earliest Jude Hill-inspired pieces was titled “The Turquoise Trail” after a trip to New Mexico … the background to the turquoise patches was a mix of woven reds

    And I couldn’t help but think “black and white and red/read all over” when I saw the back … a joke much loved as a child, now totally incomprehensible to today’s kids … but Red Bubble may very well be on their radar someday

  2. This is so gorgeous and I am agree with you, that sometimes we have to trust the process. The patchwork circle is so pretty. I love how different texture of fabrics, mix together beautifully. I am so glad I found you through Instagram!

    1. How lovely to see you here, Elvira, thank you so much. Yes, trusting the process is usually the best way forward.

  3. Anything with turquoises and teals is always a happy sight for me – although I do agree about the difficulty of taking photographs. One suggestion someone (can’t remember who) gave me is to take the photo including a contrast colour, and then crop that out of the photo when you come to display it. So, for example, when I was doing Akhenaten, the sandstone/salmon coloured silk was a horror to photograph, until I hung a turquoise and lime green ribbon over it. As long as it was in the shot the camera was taking, it improved the colour no end, but I could still crop it out afterwards…

    1. Interesting… thanks for the tip, I will try that. My camera has no end of trouble with blues and greens.

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