Thursday, October 27, 2011

Challenge 62: NOTAN

Challenge #62 – October 2011 
Hostess:  Wendy Wetzel, Flagstaff AZ
Notan is a Japanese concept that utilizes black and white to demonstrate the contrast of positive and negative space.  Often done as pen-and-ink drawings, Notan can easily be adapted to fabric with stunning results.  This technique can help us evaluate our own skills with balancing the positive/negative space in our quilts.
This past summer, Cathy Miller, AKA The Singing Quilter,, issued a Notan Challenge on her blog (just a hint there).  Cathy and her husband, John Bunge, are good friends of mine and always camp out at my home when they are on tour in the southwest.  Cathy taught her Mock Mola class to our guild this summer, and while they were here, she introduced me to her fascination with Notan, especially since it works so well with her Mock Mola technique. 
If you are on Facebook, you can “like” her page (Cathy Miller – Musician/Band) and go to her photo album for the Notan Challenge.
We did a lot of paper cutting in July!
Here are the basics, an online Art Class on Notan
For this challenge:
You can either elect to photograph and submit your freezer paper cutouts fused to dark fabric, or turn your favorite into a small art quilt.  They don’t take long, so if you have several you like, upload them!
Warning:  Notan is highly addictive!
Materials:  Freezer paper, “paper scissors,” black or other dark value fabric, iron.
Symmetric Notan Instructions:

Cut a 6” square of freezer paper.  Start by folding the paper in quarters on the long side or on the diagonal.
Everybody with me so far?   It doesn’t matter which fold you start with….  Do some both ways!
On an edge OPPOSITE from the center fold, sketch a random drawing that is a closed shape that uses the free edges as part of the shape (not just a line), preferably one that consumes most of the available space.  This can be complex or simple.  Play with both!   
Cut out the shape.  Save all the pieces!

Open the center piece and position on black fabric.  Gently press with a hot dry iron to fuse.

Arrange the cut pieces to match and mirror the negative space revealed by the cut.  Press with hot dry iron!  Take a picture!

This is a very simple example but gives you an idea of what Notan can be!  You might also want to experiment with rectangles, circles, and triangles as your base shape.  The possibilities are endless.
You can set your block design in a straight or on point orientation… they might look totally different!
Ready to play some more? 
Extra Credit – Asymmetric Notan:
Starting with a 6” square of freezer paper, start the design on one edge and cut away your shape, exiting the cut on the same edge from which you started.
If you chose to make a quilt from these exercises, the freezer paper templates work well as patterns for appliqué.  Make sure your fabrics have high value contrast.
Since others have written about Notan in a far more eloquent way, here are some great explanations of the Notan concept:
Jane Dunnewold’s instructions:
And some online examples:
Projects due November 5!     And one final word:  Have fun with this!

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