Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Intuitively, on the wall

"I was emotionally burnt-out when I started this series in 1985 and was not sure I could go through another new struggle to make a quilt.  Instinctively, I felt I had to start simply."  Nancy Crow
YELLOW CROSSES 1 by Nancy Crow, 1985  82" x 82" hand quilted by Sarah Hershberger and Mrs. John E. Mast
"I decided each quilt in the series would start with a simple structure of yellow crosses.  
I cut out long narrow rectangles and pinned them up on the wall.  Just putting up those simple crosses to indicate the final size of each quilt was therapeutic.  I let them stay there, solitary, for several days so I could react to their shapes against the white spaces of the wall behind."
Colour Blocks 1 under construction.   The center cross is made up of nine patch blocks.
Colour Blocks III under construction.  1988-1989.

"The crosses symbolize the burdens that people must bear during their lifetimes.
Burdens of sorrow, fear, guilt."
Colour Blocks 1 by Nancy Crow 1988  62" x 62"hand quilted by Elizabeth Miller

"My quilts are developed intuitively.
All my quilts after 1978 have been made intuitively.
To size, on the wall, with much fabric wasted in the process.
I must work this way making visual judgements as I move along.
I hate working from a drawing.
It is too constricting."

All text and images in this post are by Nancy Crow and are from her 1989 book, Quilts and Influences.  
merimekko black and white fabric pinned beside the start of Lady of Guadalupe III 1987
This post is about the importance of a pin wall to Nancy Crow's process.  


  1. I thought that I was going to teach a quilting class locally to young women.

    It was through the local college's continuing education program, but there was not enough enrollment.

    These posts about pin walls are part of my preparation for that class. I hope to continue with prep - teach the class sometime in the future.

    Nancy Crow and her pin walls was very important to me when I was a young mom with artistic ambition. I purchased her book in 1989 when April was two years old - the three children older.

    Yay pin walls.

  2. Though I know you aren't, I feel like you're writing this to me. I have such a teensy studio with such incredibly low ceilings - I just haven't been able to find a way to have a pin wall. I dream about being able to stand back and see things as I go instead of just sketching something out and starting to stitch. My ceilings aren't high enough to even hang my finished pieces so I can see them in totality. I am now considering ripping out the ceiling, though. Don't know what's up there, don't know if it will give me enough height anyway, but I think I've come up with a plan. I hope I've come up with a plan. Cross your fingers for me?

    PS: Sorry about your class not making.

    PS2: I'm sorta' lying. While I am sorry it didn't have enough interest, I'm delighted to reap the benefits. x

  3. I didn't find a way to have a pin wall in my studio either. But at least I can hang the the works around the my home and see them from the distance, specially in front of my couch. I need to look at them and think slowly.

  4. I always have a quilt on display in my home. I often use that quilt to pin works in progress up. My family is used to living in an artist's studio...and I too need to look and look and think and undo and redo.


  5. "my family is used to living in an artist's studio" . . . now that just thunked me up side the head and opened up a whole new way of thinking about/using space. i've always kept my art doings confined to my little out-of-the-way nook, keeping public gathering spaces filled with OPA (other people's art). to think about putting some of mine around the house, to imagine walking past them in ponderance, now . . .


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx