Whether we’re working with type, making biscuits, or figuring out the best way to keep track of jobs, creating a bit of a mess is part of the process of achieving final results. When master printer Jim Sherraden assembles a paper quilt, a series of seemingly small but beautiful messes are necessary.
Jim carves his blocks at home, in winter, when the nights are long and cold, separating little bits of wood from the blocks, to create the imagery he uses in his quilts. Wood shavings end up strewn about his kitchen table. Or so we’ll have to imagine, as he has not taken any photos of this. What we do see are the final blocks:
As the blocks are printed, their printing surfaces develop an ink-stained patina.
He prints these blocks all together, using dark colors.
One might look at all these prints and think the process is simply a matter of laying the prints side by side to assemble a quilt rich in graphics and color. There are more messes to make!
Cutting up the prints almost distills their visual impact, but to ensure it is maximized, Jim adds more color, hand-watercoloring the pieces.
Just like those who crafted the work that influences Jim, ranging from Mediterranean tile makers to his own, traditional-quilting aunt, distributing the color to achieve a sense of balance goes hand-in-hand his color choice. So, sometimes the quilt is pieced first and then colored, sometimes a quilt is built from pieces that are already colored.
All these steps and decisions come together in the completed quilts, assembled by hand.
You can view the full effect of the completed quilts in person, through August, in Hatch Show Print’s Haley Gallery, and meet Jim Sherraden August 6 at our First Saturday Art Crawl, 6 to 9 pm.