I was on a walk along the Halifax Harbourfront at 10am on a July morning in 2010. There were a couple of sailboats moored alongside the Acadia (a WW1 warship, now part of the Museum of the Atlantic collection) with the fog lifting in the harbour and the Dartmouth shore a pale form in the distance.
I captured the moment – recently I added the photo to my collection of potential landscape/art quilts.
With the Art/Landscape class underway for a second time, I thought I’d give the sailboats a try. Sky with a bit more cloudy texture (because I had the perfect fabric), the opposite shore (heavily stitched), the water in a very soft blue-grey. I did some preliminary thread painting and texture building in the water on the left, then positioned the sailboats (printed on fabric, backed with fusible web, fussy cut) and pressed them in place. Now I have to add the reflections in the water to tied the image together. I elected to eliminate the small dock next to the Acadia and the just visible stern of the ship. I preferred just the two lone sailboats for my wall art piece. Although barely visible, I’ve used silk organza on the left of the image to represent the fog, added after the initial thread painting to blur the textile and stitching beneath.
I will work on the piece tomorrow in class so I can show the gals how I solve various technical issues – including creating an inner mat, making piping, and selecting fabric for the framing. They’ll also get to see how I go about thread painting with my feed dogs in the engaged position (I can’t free motion and obtain an even stitch length at all well, but I’ve figured out how to keep my feed dogs in position and do a “free-motion like” sewing). I want them to see how I do that.
I am probably also going to add a bit more movement to the water on the right, but not until I’ve finished the reflections of the masts, the mooring lines, and rigging on the boats.
More after tomorrow – our second class (one more after that on framing and finishing an art piece).
Just finished the hidden binding (with a sleeve for a rod to hang the art piece. I darkened the uprights on the fence a bit with permanent marker after I’d put on the dark piping – now the two are more balanced. The border fabric has the texture of old barnboard which brings out the colours in the scene in a way I’m happy with. That fabric was a lucky find yesterday – a fabric by Moda: grunge! And the distant fog obscures the trees and buildings in the distance but when you look more closely you can just make them out (as you would with fog).
Foggy Morning – Completed
That’s it for now. That gives me eight wall art pieces to take to Parrsboro beginning of September.
Here is the piece after working on it for a large part of the day.
First, I placed the fabrics for the distant background and middle ground, covered them with silk organza (which I fused to the fabrics below – I didn’t want to stitch over the organza (which would have destroyed the “fog” effect I was trying to achieve), instead, I did quite a bit of stitching to suggest the texture of the fields in the distance before fusing the organza in place.
Next, I laid in the foreground, including the fence (which I had very carefully cut out using very sharp scissors from the photograph printed on fabric – did that weeks ago). Then, I began edge stitching all those elements. I have maybe about 1/3 of the edge stitching done – some on the brush in the foreground and on the fence to hold them in place. I was beginning to feel the strain in my back so I stopped working to discover I’d just put in close to 5 hours on the project! Time slips away when I’m working on something like this – “I’ll just to this one more bit…” and before I know it, the day has disappeared.
Foggy Morning – In Progress I
Here is the original photo for comparison – it’s getting there. The colours are somewhat different, but when the thread work is done it should be closer to the photo – that’s what I’m aiming for, anyway!
Foggy Morning – Photo
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 spent the entire day working on the pilots wall hanging. It took a good part of the morning strengthening the white caps on the Bay of Fundy which is always windy. More difficult than doing this embroidery work without the pilots in place – I had to work up to the edge of a figure, end the thread, start again on the other side. When done in the right order it’s clear sailing.
Then I took a deep breath and started stitching around the colour areas. Here they’re shown on the black and white prints on paper. My plan was to stitch around the outlines of all the coloured areas using coloured thread to blend with the fabric in the clothing.
Somewhat more difficult to do on the machine than with a pen! Click on the photo below and you’ll see the stitching – I didn’t quite capture as much detail as I did on paper, but the stitching does bring out the boundaries between the differently shaded areas. You don’t notice the stitching when you stand back but it’s evident when you’re close up.
I added an inner “mat” using 2 1/2″ raw silk strips, carefully positioning them and stitching them in place (with mitred corners folded and pressed).
Now the piece needs a border/outer mat. I have several sets of 4 of various fabrics the question is whether any of them actually enhance the piece or do all of them detract and I should go shopping for something better.
This is a dark border:
Here is a lighter border:
This is a medium border that brings out the blues and greys – what I can’t decide is whether it’s too busy or not.
This is one to sleep on. I need to see all three in daylight – then it will be easier to assess the colours and degree of busyness of the batik pattern.
Maybe I should bring out some solid Kona cotton and give that a try – I find “storm” a very useful colour – I’ll do that tomorrow.
Yesterday I worked on the water of the bay. I wanted to suggest the white caps but not to cover the entire surface. I played around with stitches on my sewing machine – several provided possibilities. My machine allows me to modify and create actual stitches so that’s what I did. I tried a couple; in the end I modified the “grass” stitch – I made it narrower and removed several stitches from the single repeat to give me a short burst.
Then I used Neocolori Wax Pastels to hint at the roughness of the sea.
Wind Waiting: Current State
It’s all about experimenting with the stitching before actually attempting it on the piece itself. I have just one chance at “getting it right”. Once I start stitching I have to continue, can’t take it out because the needle marks will show, so I try out different threads and stitch settings before actually working on the piece.
Looks a mess, but in my head I can see the effect of each experiment. Underneath are my tests for the water; on top I’m working on the grassy foreground – I need two effects: first, I need to imply the texture and height of the grasses and small shrubs on the bank – that will take the form of rows of horizontal stitching using three or four different variegated threads; second, I want to create a rough edge against the water – the pilots aren’t on the edge of the sandy beach (the landing zone below), they’re at the edge of the bank 89-100 ft. above the water (the launch zone). The edge of the bank, therefore, should show some grasses and twigs against the sea.
Last night I spent a couple of hours modifying some built-in stitches that will hint at that texture. (Once the pilots are constructed and appliquéd in place I will add grasses to cover their shoes because the vegetation at the edge of the bank wasn’t mowed.
So now I have to take a deep breath and start in. This is it!