On Sunday I gave a demo to the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild which happens to be my guild. I talked about working with ugly fabrics (and how I've grown to love them), showed off Ellis Island and some larger chunks of ugly fabric that went in it, and emphasized the importance of value. I didn't bring any value-less (hee hee hee) examples with me because it was supposed to be a short talk. So let's see if I can do a better job of explaining myself here.
In order to check value in my quilts in progress, I use red and green value finders. I have a mismatched pair but these are Cottage Mills Color Evaluators and they work great.
You can get the filters from Amazon for sure and sometimes get lucky at a quilt shop. Or, use camera filters or plastic or acrylic in red and green. Doesn't have to be anything fancy, but you need both colors.
You hold one of the filters up to your eyes and look at your fabric or blocks. I put the blocks for Pokey's Quilt up on the design wall today and this is what it looked like through the green filter.
I could not get a photo through the red filter for nuthin, but it would look similar (but different). The point is, I can see light lights and dark darks and no area where everything is blending together. If I find the same contrast looking through the red filter, I know this quilt is working great. (Which it is, woohoo!)
What is mush you ask? Here is Kansas City Troubles which I made in the 1990's. Very typical of my colors of the time.
It's a quilt that never worked and I didn't understand why until many years later. If I'd had the filters I could have looked through them and seen something like this:
Okay, there is some contrast here. It's not really sharp, but I can see triangles and sawteeth and a strong inner border. And here it is through the red filter:
That's a lot of mush, with an inner border.
I faked these two filtered pics using Picasa, so this isn't entirely accurate BUT you can get my point right? Use both the red and green filters and you need to see contrast in both unless you are purposely doing a low-volume quilt but that is a whole other animal.
So if you keep the red and green filters by your sewing machine you can make frequent checks on your progress. I've gotten much better at seeing it myself without needing to use them.
Another great tool, which many of you already know about, is your camera. Look at a photo of your quilt in black and white (on your computer using photo editing software unless you have a really peachy camera).
Mush. This is the most accurate representation of the value, but not necessarily the easiest one to work with constantly.
Did that make sense? Was it helpful? Feel free to ask questions.
Here is a tutorial by Piecemeal Quilts that I think is wonderful. Great examples of pushing your fabric choices so there is less mush and more zing.
I surprised myself at just how much fun I had doing the demo. I need to remember that and not be so intimidated about teaching. Speaking of which, I'm coming out to Colorado to teach in May! fingers crossed.
Okay, before I go, here are a few kitty pics. Old photos, which says something about how long it's been since I've done this. Annabelle
She was three months old when I took these last July.
They've gotten so much bigger since then. Annabelle is still getting into trouble and Cooper is sleeping a lot (growing boy).
If you want to see more kitty pics, Friend me on Facebook. I am better at posting there...