Inspiration - The same object from a different angle!

sue beevers headshotJean Jurgenson

By: Jean Jurgenson– QCN
Date: 03/23/2010


When I think about my work as a textile artist, the process seems to break down into two parts, the technical and the creative. Inspiration drives this creativity, so I’ll share a little on where I get mine. I won’t get too far into on the technical aspect of textile art, but I do want to say how important it is to learn as many techniques as possible. The more techniques you learn, the more you can choose from to get the right technique to fit your message.
Now let’s delve into what I consider the exciting part of making fiber art—the inspiration behind a design. I have always said that I find inspiration in those small details that surround us every day. I am awed by the intensity of the light as the sun shines under dark rain clouds, or by the way two fabrics speak to each other. One time I asked my brother to take pictures of the windmill on his farm. He thought one picture would look like the next but then he started really looking at it from different angles, in different light, with sunsets behind it, even with snow stuck to the blades. They were exceptional photographs of a common structure.
Just stop for a moment where you are right now. Look around you. What do you see? I see the edge of a window sill with a crack meandering diagonally down the wall. I see my mother’s collection of scissors hanging along with mine from a rack she made. There are strong shadows from the scissors on the wall behind them. I’ve lived with that crack and those scissors for years, and just now when I made myself stop and look, I saw those design possibilities for the first time.
I often look at ordinary things from—literally, a different perspective. Years ago, I photographed a column inside Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Rather than take a picture at eye level, I stood at the base of the column and took the picture looking up to the ceiling. The strong lines of the column with the beams in the ceiling radiating out from the column inspired me to capture the dramatic design in fabric.
My daughter took a photo of a taxi from the window of her high-rise apartment building in Hong Kong. The elongation of the surrounding buildings as you looked down fourteen floors fascinated me. Thus, my quilt Hong Kong Taxi was born. Many ordinary landscapes and streetscapes can be made infinitely more exciting by finding that unexpected perspective.

Jean Jurgenson Hong Kong Taxi Original PhotoJean Jurgenson HK Taxi Quilt
Original Hong Kong Taxi photo alongside the finished quilt.
Click either image to enlarge in a new window

I would encourage anyone who is struggling to come up with original ideas for their fiber art to stop. Take some time. Look at what is surrounding you. Look with fresh eyes. Does the smooth curve of that wrought-iron gate please you?  Does the wood grain around a knot in that log get you excited? Even if we would never make another quilt, the exercise of seeing the small things in our world will enrich our lives immeasurably.

Please visit where Aileyn Ecob, Franki Kohler and I, Jean Jurgenson, share the Three Visions of our fiber art.


sue beevers headshot

Jean Jurgenson is a long time active quilter, and is a partner in the Fiber on the Wall design team. More from Jean, along with images of her quilts, can be seen at the Fiber on the Wall website

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