I started to keep a sketchbook of my work eight or nine years ago. And I think it is the most important tool in my studio. Well, perhaps not as important as my rotary cutter or my sewing machine, but still vitally important to my studio practice.
I find that the pages of my sketchbook serve several purposes:
- I record the progress of each piece, in pictures, fabric swatches and notations, as I create it. From the pile of fabric on the cutting table to the finished quilt hanging on the wall.
- I include a written critique of each piece, sometimes of the work in progress and always of the finished piece. I try to be honest with myself. It’s hard, but it helps me to step back and look at my work with a more objective eye.
- I record dyeing, printing, surface design sessions and “experiments.”
- I jot down ideas and/or make sketches for future pieces. Things often occur to me as I’m working, ideas for the next piece in the series.
- It preserves a history of my life as an artist. I have a shelf in my studio with 14 sketchbooks stuffed to the brim with my work and my thoughts. I occasionally pull one down and leaf through it’s pages. They are records of my successes as well as my failures. And sometimes a source of inspiration for future work.
The sketchbook has become an important part of my studio practice. At the end of each day, I photograph the work on my design wall and tape the photo into my sketchbook, along with any notes for the next day’s work. It is my “end of the day” ritual, one I don’t think I can do without.