File, Act, Toss

One of the few staff development seminars I recall was F.A.T, or file, act, toss. The idea was to clear your overflowing desk by going through all the paperwork on it and decide whether to keep it (file,) respond to it (act,) or throw it out (toss.) I used the process with my pile of surface design experiments when said pile fell to the closet floor. The pile is now smaller and neater.

Once I threw out experiments that were beyond help – too overworked, just not appealing, etc. – I chose two to act on. The first is a painting experiment with an empty toilet paper roll cut to flare out. You dip the flared out end in paint and dab it onto fabric. I used it for free motion practice, and gingered up the color with oil pastels. It may become a pillow cover.

Next, I finished quilting an ancient sampler from about 2005. It was made from scraps left from an Amish type wall hanging, and I had hand quilted about half of it. Knowing I would never finish the hand quilting, I completed it with machine quilting and bound it.

With some actions under my belt, next I turned to the file pile. I tend to have groups of experiments in similar colors or themes as they were done in one session. Here are a few of those groups.

Finally, I decided to keep pieces of dropcloths that could make good backgrounds and a screened linen piece that I just don’t know what to do with.

Both are old cotton sheets that have a lovely hand.
This suffers from fold lines that took the spray paint differently.

I didn’t photograph my discards, though some of you may think I still have plenty to toss. I have lots more in my pile, but those bits are cut into squares in anticipation of a future project.

Are you a hoarder of such experiments or are you more ruthless than I am?

I am linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques

6 responses to “File, Act, Toss

  1. Jane Herbst

    More power to you, Joanna, being able to part with your experiments. One of my inner voices is like Ann Scott’s: “I know I can do something with this.” I like what you’ve done with the various pieces shown. Personal opinion: I don’t think the last item “suffers” from the fold lines. To me the fold line effects give the impression of changes in a background landscape … field turns to river turns to mountain …. I like it!! I also like the stenciled color catchers. I have saved “colorful” color catchers since starting to dye fabrics, and have had fun playing with the results, just no “final product” yet.

  2. I don’t hoard experiments, but I do hoard finished tops awaiting quilting. 🙂

    • I will pat myself on the back and say that I came clean with myself and separated out the tops I will probably never quilt and use them for backs on tops I do quilt. But I mostly work at a fairly small scale, no larger than 45″, so this method is pretty easy.

  3. Well, this post was made for me! If experiments are what I hoard then that’s the only place in my life where I do hoard. I love every piece you’ve shown, especially the first and last – flowers, plants, leaves, always my most favorite. Isn’t it hard NOT to see potential in even the most questionable outcome… Have have that little voice that says “I know I can do something with this.”

    • I so agree with you. Alas, my enthusiasm for potential has led to many donations from well meaning friends who are convinced I will spin straw into gold. Just this morning I was handed a bag of shiny floral fabrics, and I thought that maybe some of them would work with my pinkish experiments.

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