Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Can't Draw

I spent yesterday sketching.

Polly and I both agree that the biggest challenge in designing (fabric, quilts, and rugs) is getting the ideas that are in our head - down on paper. We are not talented with drawing skills. Our sketches would fit right in displayed on your fridge with your kids and grandkids artwork. Because we are handicapped in this department, we have learned a few tricks.

First lesson: Remember 1st grade. Simple shapes work. Don't try for detail when simplicity works. My most treasured lesson is cutting snowflakes. Remember when we folded up paper to make these classroom decorations? The principle still works. Any shape you can cut once - will make a perfectly symmetrical shape if you cut it on folded paper.Here are my templates for a leaf and vase. Both used this trusted technique. I am working on a border for a future applique quilt. Symmetry is your friend when designing a border. Remember that you only have to draw half of something. Once drawn, a mirror image of this sketch and be added to make a complete sketch.

My second favorite trick - vellum tracing paper. I can't stress enough how much I love this stuff! It's kind of expensive and I had to buy a whole roll of it at the art supply store, but oh, was it worth it. I now have a lifetime supply of graph paper that 1) is see-through and allows me to trace images on it. (see symmetry-mirror image hint above). 2) Vellum is sturdy and holds up to many, many erasings. This is very important. Last night, when I was done sketching, my office chair wouldn't roll on the wood floor. This was because I was sitting in a pile of eraser leavings. Little puddles of spent eraser. It's no exaggeration that I go through more erasers than I do pencils. This is the corner of the border. Because of my see-through traceable graph paper, I know that the mirror image of this will neatly turn the corner of my quilt.

Oh, and blue painter's tape. It leaves no residue on paper or wood. Another good tool. I taped, retaped, and taped again my graph paper over and over each other to get the final product. It was a day well spent.



pdudgeon said...

lol, you say you can't draw, but your designs say otherwise! nice job!

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!! to much work for this brain.
I can't wait to see how this works out..............looks wonderful.

PamKittyMorning said...

Now I can't wait to see what that turns into!

Pookie said...

Oh my gosh, I love vellum! I got my undergrad degree in technical theater just before everything moved to AutoCAD, so I had to take a bunch of drafting classes. I loooove drafting, because I also can't draw. But I love writing -- and erasing! -- on vellum. I wish I still had an excuse to.

Have you ever used an electric eraser? Those things are wild. Wild, I tells ya!

Minick and Simpson said...

There is such a thing as an electric eraser??!! (Head spins) I am off to do an internet search. Awesome.


Allie said...

I LOVE this post! I can't draw either but have discovered the trick of half. I usually use regular tracing paper, but it doesn't play nice with erasers - awhile back, I found a roll of vellum paper at the thrift store, for .50, and picked it up not knowing what it was good for. I'm so glad you told me, lol!

I can't wait to see what this becomes, it looks lovely already.

Sharon said...

I'm the same, using lots of tips from other quilters, I've been able to muddle through things.
This border looks inviting!

Janet said...

Thanks for reminding me of this aspect of being a drawing-challenged quilt designer/quiltmaker. It is usually on the second attempt that the light dawns and I remember that your tip always works for me!! For some reason I'm ok on doing the small scale very rough sketch but become a little bit ineffectual when drawing pattern pieces.
Will try to do it in the right order next time!
Interesting to see others' creative processes.

Vicky said...

About 150 years ago when I was a beginning court reporter typing on a manual typewriter with carbon paper (I really am that old!), I had an electric eraser named "George." I would have starved without that thing as we got paid by the page! (Laurie, look in drafting supplies.)

I wasted a whole tree this weekend trying to draw some flowers. I didn't remember the snowflake technique! Will have to try again! Thanks!

mary at FOUND said...

my eraser also disappears long before the pencil,too. i'm going to be watching the comments for more info on that "magic" eraser. i think i just need to go to my magic drawer and get out the gum eraser, but the one on the pencil is so handy...

jaybird said...

good tricks!! ever read the book "drawing on the right side of the brain" ??? good read... that often serves as an eye opener of sorts to many people!

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