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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Designing Ways: The Container and the Contained

" Mother, Mother, May I swim? Yes my darling daughter. Hang your clothes on the highest pin and don't go in the water."

In the same way we read mystery and horror novels, and watch romantic comedy, we flirt with edges. Come hither, hold on tight, don't let go, what really is at the edge? There's a lot of drama to be gained from art in the process of making a box and then breaking out of it.

We need the box. We need the safety and the security of it all. But we crave the excitement and drama of the edge. Where one thing starts and something else ends. When that edge is clean, straight and clear, it's very tidy. But it leaves us wanting to break out.

Nature, life, the world, the universe is not full of a lot of straight edges. We impose those on our world, but they impose right back at us. A good example is mint in your garden. You may have planted it in a small plot in a straight line. Blink twice after a good rain and you'll find it across the yard and down the hill has well. My feeling is that I might as well just go along with it.

So within art it's worth building both. You build the surface of your work, which is a container. Then you break out of that container,as nature itself is bound to do. The stripes here create a sense of order as well as filtered sun, but the leaf refuses to stay in place. It pops out and our ladybug comes right along with it.

The vine here creates the border here, and our lady bug nestles within it. But it too refuses to stay just on the surface. It pokes out just enough that we know it's a living thing and not about to follow a ruler.

This bug is contained by the flower she's on. But not entirely. She's clearly heading for the edge.

Finally this bug and leaf create the border together. They are the container and the contained all in one.

Wrapping it up:
As quilters we're used to square corners and straight edges.  We depend on them. They make a container for our images. But as we make borders and let our work edge right off them, we can take our contained work and put it in motion, by breaking out of the border and refusing to be contained.


BJ said...

I love all of these pieces, breaking from the straight defined edges that we are so used to doing. Going with the shapes of the subjects really brings these pieces alive and draws you in.

norma said...

On these pieces it makes so much sense to have them peep beyond the edge. Beautiful work, as usual!

Judy said...

Such beautiful pieces of work Ellen..and I'm with you on the edges.I have an aversion to straight lines..your pieces "move" beyond the confines of the borders.

Vicki Davis said...

Beautiful pieces! I love the way they create the boundaries as well as break out of them. As always, you've given me some great ideas!

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