It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

Is a piece of art ever truly finished? I recall that the movie “Mr. Turner” showed J. M. W. Turner adding a touch of red to one of his paintings while it hung at an exhibition. My work bears absolutely no comparison to Turner’s, but I do succumb to the urge to make changes after a work is supposedly done.

All the time I spend at home due to Covid and winter has led me to reorganize my stored quilts. As I look at them I find I just have to revise some I thought I could improve with relative ease.

“Broken Glass” was made in 2014 in response to a tour of a glass making firm. It’s meant to be colorful and recall the huge tubs full of glass pieces awaiting reuse. However, the multicolored ribbon I used in the center area competed with all the other color. I knocked back the brightness with dark purple Inktense paint.


“A Real Fake” is even older, 2011, and was made for a guild challenge. At the time I decided to use a dark green border strip on the left to suggest a wallpaper border, but now I see it distracts attention from the window.

The strip I cut off is on the left, and the binding is clipped down for resewing. I was and am proud of the window, which I made from hand drawn freezer paper templates.

“My Brain on Xmas,” circa 2015, is another loud multi-colored piece that began with a peculiar scrap of fabric that featured a temple dog.

Temple dog is lower center.

After I took the photo above I added a ton of machine and hand stitching – far too much. I wasn’t willing to rip that out, but I decided the dog had to go. The round crocheted doily is a better match to the brain. It’s still OTT, but has a bit more holiday spirit.

A cyanotype printed circle was fused on and stitched around. It covered some quilting, but so what.

Do you ever do a retrospective of your oeuvre and try to see how it could be improved? Do you revise? If so, at what point?

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects

13 responses to “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

  1. Donna

    I enjoyed seeing how you revised your quilts. I recently turned two UFO quilt tops into finished quilts by taking them apart and reconstructing them. It is a good feeling to improve on past efforts.

  2. Gwyned

    Fascinating! Relatively simple changes with HUGE impact. You could do a lecture on critique with these examples.

    • I won’t be giving lectures anytime soon, but I realize my awareness of design has grown over the years. I still make bad design decisions, but I try to catch them before the quilt is finished.

  3. Good idea to make changes into a quilt you no longer love the way it is; I have never changed a finished quilt, but I have in mind one or two that could be improved 😉

  4. I haven’t done anything big to any of my pieces. I have one quilt I’d love to be skilled enough to requilt more to my original concept, but I’m not. And I might never be. And so it goes. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing these and the changes. I especially think cutting off the wallpaper from A Real Fake made a good difference!

    • There are some pieces I will never fix as they need a total makeover. It was easy to fix Fake to correct my wrong design decision. It’s taken me a while to realize that just because I have an idea it doesn’t mean it’s a good one.

  5. I think it takes some bravery. These all look like good decisions with better outcomes. I’m amazed by Broken Glass and how the Inktense did knock down the brightness. I especially like “My Brain on Xmas” – all that stitching is fantastic!
    After over ten years I started to add more hand quilting to a (60″ almost square) hand quilted and appliqued quilt, but I put it away because I knew I could just keep quilting on it forever! The new quilting wasn’t really adding much to the over all look, it just made it look more held together, to me. Thankfully that quilt sold so I don’t have to think about it anymore!
    The plexi-glass/photo on one of my Photographs on Fiber pieces broke so I repainted the fiber/painted/quilted fabric part and I’m going to put something else where the photo was… someday.

    • I see it more as if I don’t like how a quilt looks, what do I have to lose by changing it. Yes, I did do more hand stitching on Brain than is my wont. I was at a retreat and wanted to work on something as we chatted on the porch. It sounds like you made lemonade out of your “lemons.”

  6. I enjoyed this post and seeing how you changed your pieces. I haven’t changed a finished piece, I don’t think, but I have stuck it away so I no longer have to look at it. I have cut up one quilt top and made it into something else that I liked much better, which was delightfully fun.

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