This past couple of weeks I’ve been teaching a class on improvising wall art and I’ve been working on four Skinny Quilts/Banners myself as part of that project. The other day when I finished embellishing each panel (although I still have to bind each one), I thought about another project that might interest the gals.
Last spring I attempted a watercolour quilt – made from many 2″ blocks cut from small print floral fabrics to use the colour in the squares to “paint” a canvas. I have many bags filled with 2″ squares (light, medium, dark) and thought this might be an idea to interest the women.
I laid out an array (9 x 12) creating a colour flow across the surface, stitched the pieces together and took it to class yesterday to share with the women. Today, I decided to finish the piece with a narrow inner border, a piped border, and a wider dark border. I’ve added a hidden binding and backing – I just need to do the hand stitching to tack the binding in place.
The photo doesn’t do the panel justice – the prints are all quite sharp and showcase the colour flow rather better than the photo would suggest. Looks like this might be a go for January. The women all thought it would be fun to attempt something like this.
I was on a photo-taking adventure near Canning NS, on a foggy October morning in 2006, with David Lacey, a NS landscape artist. Near the beginning of our backroad trip we spotted an old fence at the edge of a field. The sun was still low and the ground fog hadn’t yet completely burned off. Standing where I was, the sunlight on the fence created a sharp contrast to the morning fog hovering over the farm buildings in the distance.
Foggy Morning – Photo
This was one of the photos I’d set aside as a possible subject for a textile art piece. The challenge is creating the “fog” – it seemed to me I could capture the faded texture of the foggy distance with a layer of silk organza over an underlying image of the farm buildings and trees printed on fabric.
First, I enlarged and printed the top half of the photo on fabric and added a fusible backing. Next I’ve added layers of printed fabric to the middle ground which is still somewhat obscured by the fog. I will do quite a bit of thread painting in this middle ground to increase the detail although it will be covered with organza.
The foreground, consists of pieces cut from the photo printed on fabric which will be thread painted to bring out the detail. The shadow of the ditch is created using an underlay of black batik. Now that I compare the photo and my pieces of fabric (not yet fused in place, thank goodness) I can see I’ve missed the cow path which is integral to the image. So I will have to go back to my fabric stash to find a dark grey something to set that up….
Foggy Morning – In Progress I
Here is the fence, the focal point of the piece, tentatively in place – I can see I will need to do a lot of thread work where the fabric meets the organza in order to marry the foreground and the middle ground better.
Foggy Morning – In Progress II
However, I’m happy with the start – I’m beginning to see how to construct this piece.
I did a bit of thread painting on the background of this piece yesterday during the Art Quilt Class – I wanted to demonstrate how I double up the rayon thread and use both in a single needle, how I stitch the raw edges using a very narrow blanket stitch, how I freely sew flow lines in the background.
Today, I finished up the background by adding a bit more dark fabric to the water and doing quite a lot of stitching for detail (the thread actually becomes lighter the farther from the foreground it is). As well I did some dense stitching along the water edge to suggest foam. I left the darker edge of wet sand clear of stitching because that sand is always packed densely while it’s still wet. The stitching in the sand is intentionally more random to hint at the irregular detail from many footprints.
For the moment Charlie is still a piece of paper. Tomorrow I’m going to work on creating him from 4-6 layers of flesh-toned fabrics from very l light on his right shoulder to very dark at his bum and the backs of his lower legs.
I added my signature while I was working at the machine rather than struggle to add it later. I do the embroidery using the metal hoop which allows me to just place the art piece flat and hold it in place with magnets instead of trying to force it into a double pieced hoop – much easier to position the fabric.
I’m still not sure whether I’ll border this piece or not or whether I’ll use a hidden binding – I’ll see how I feel when the child is assembled and added. Finished dimensions will be approximately 12″ x 10″.
First Swim with Child
OK, so I didn’t wait until tomorrow – I pieced the child this evening. Didn’t turn out badly at all. Now to edge stitch all the pieces – slowly and carefully.
Dots – Completed
Having given the piece a name, I realized the majority of the fabrics I used to construct the piece had dots in them! So to take the idea further, I appliquéd more dots of various sizes to add further detail to the piece, and stitched around the outside edge with rayon embroidery thread using a narrow blanket stitch. Although difficult to see, the 1/4″ binding is also a dotted fabric. Finished size: 12.5″ x 17″.
Another demonstration: a pieced portrait.
I started with an image of a face, printed it in black and white, outlined the colour boundaries, pulled all the beige tone fabrics from the stash I could find (large pieces and scraps), created templates for the large areas using baking parchment paper, cut them out, then created templates for the smaller areas, and cut those out.
What I didn’t do here, but should have, was to apply fusible web to the fabric before cutting it – instead, I’ll use a glue stick to adhere the cut out pieces to the background.
I was mainly playing around to see if what I ended up with resembled a face in any way and it does. Once I’ve glued the pieces down, I’ll probably do a bit of edge stitching to hold the thing together.
With the Peony, I’m playing around with Danny Amazonas’ fused appliqué technique – a collage of small pieces of fabric fused on top of one another to create depth and detail for both the background and the main subject.
I began by preparing 20″ x 26″ pieces of muslin and batting and sewing them together along the 9″ x 12″ dimensions in the center of the quilt – this marked my outside boundary. Then I pencilled in the approximate location for the focal element – the peony. That gives me an inner boundary for the background appliqué collage.
One of the things I’ve learned from looking carefully at Amazonas’ textile art is the background is livelier when there’s visible small pattern elements in the fabrics. The overall effect is a shaded dark support for the focus element which sets up the contrast for the finished art work.
I cut pieces from the fabrics I’d collected and auditioned them to see how I might establish a colour flow within the background.
Auditioning Fabrics For The Background
I applied “wonder-under,” a paperbacked fusible web to my complementary and contrasting pieces of background fabric. Then I cut small pieces from each and arranged them filling the space from outer to inner boundary.
Background Fused In Place
At this point, the background looks lighter in overall tone than it will once the light fabrics are added in the center to create the very pale pink flower. If the background still seems too light when the peony is added, I will apply a wash using acrylic paint to tone down the brighter colours.
As far as I can tell, Amazonas doesn’t sew on top of his constructions. My plan is to do the same in this demonstration piece. However, when it’s assembled I may feel it wants more detail and add some thread painting. I’ll have to see how it turns out.
That’s it for today.
I’ve been working away at the Rudebeckia piece all this week. Tons of decisions to make, this fabric or that, cut using a traced template or free cut, where to position the elements, how much detail to use in the background, what colour thread…. Every decision is a final one as well – there isn’t much that can be undone as the work grows. It’s how it is.
Here I’ve partially stitched “leaves” in the background (I’ll finish that stitching when I’ve done the thread painting on the flowers). The central flower is all assembled and fused in place as are the other two flowers.
Applique Fused, Partially Stitched
And then the thread painting began. I started in the middle of the main flower and worked my way out from dark thread to the light. I worked at my machine for a couple of hours each day until I finished the detail stitching this afternoon.
Here is the back of finished piece – you can see how much stitching it required to complete the work.
Thread Painting From Back
Final decision – the piece is a work of art, it needs a signature and date. I set up an embroidery on my computer, transferred it to my embroidery machine and used my metal hoop (which uses magnets to hold the fabric in place). I carefully measured where I wanted my signature to go, then holding my breath hit the embroider button. It came out fine.
This is the finished piece (I still have to hand stitch the invisible binding in place which I’ll do this evening). Final dimensions: 9″ x 12″ – it’s a small piece but a lot of work.
That’s one piece completed and three more to go before June 6.