Dreaming in Color - Opposites Attract with Jean Wells



Putting on my explorer hat in this new calendar year I wanted to challenge myself to work in a color palette that was completely new to me. I chose blue and orange, which are opposite each other on a standard color wheel. I always begin by pulling as many fabrics as I can that “might work” in the composition. Log cabin style blocks are my very favorite and allow the use of a variety of fabrics with a mix of solids and prints.


My first block ended up more blue than orange, and you can certainly see the variety in the different oranges. As I worked it became evident that one of the colors needed to be dominant, there was a bit of a struggle for a time. Because of the strong contrast, each wants to dominate or be most important.


Once I had a few blocks made I wanted to start designing the quilt. Using a piece of foam core board, with the background fabric I had chosen pinned to it, helped me to see how the blocks might play together. I struggled with rearranging for a while, and realized that most of the blues were flat or dull. I looked for a brighter blue that was more intense and it certainly added interest. At the same time, I came across a red orange that I didn't use and added small bits of it, like little brush strokes. I think I am ready to sew it together.



This was a good exercise for me. Below you can see a small piece I made featuring yellow and purple, opposites once again. This was another experiment and I found out how very strong the yellows were that I choose to work with. This is a totem style composition and works well for putting smaller, experimental blocks together.



“Hidden Stone” began as a red quilt. I pushed the color red, to red violet and to red orange. An ancient rock wall was my inspiration for the shapes and once the quilt was finished it looked better on its side. While working on it, it was feeling a bit boring, so I snuck in some acid green and for me it felt more complete.


In "Landscape" you see a mostly green quilt with just a touch of red.


An idea for you is to audition a color palette by making a small log cabin block, or two, experimenting with the fabrics to see how they play together.


To construct the pincushion, I free-cut the strips to fit as I add them around the center unit. I do not use a ruler, but trim and angle shapes as I work. I do plan the end size for the block, and keep adding strips in a variety of widths until I reach that number. I find that I feel more and more creative as I go and start seeing some results.

I like to fill the pin cushions with crushed walnuts. They keep the pins sharp.