I’ve been working away frantically to finish the last quilt. the show at Art Labs in Parrsboro opens a week tomorrow at 2:00 pm! That’s a month to six weeks earlier than I was hoping for so it’s been a crunch to complete everything and get it all ready to hang. I’ll make the deadline but there’s still quite a bit to get done.
As far as the final quilt is concerned, I have the centre panel quilted, the sashing and inner border seam stitched-in-the-ditch. That leaves two more border seams to stitch all the way around, the wide outer border quilted, and the facing and a label applied to the back. I have time, but the minutes are slipping away!
I just finished adding the sawtooth hangers to the back of the flowers, carefully measuring the hanging position for each on the linen-covered panel, adding small nails to hang each piece on. With a little aligning they’ll be fine.
I still have to figure out some way to hang the panel itself – I’ve got an idea for how to do that, but whether it will work or not remains to be seen.
I’ve finished the Modern Flowers panel, as well. Last week I stopped into Sew With Vision to see whether I could find a fabric to cover the hanging panel because I didn’t have enough navy linen to cover it. I came home with a metre and a half of Moda Basic Grunge in Peacoat Navy. It shows off the small pieces beautifully.
Because the navy Grunge worked so well, I thought I’d recover the Flowers panel to match. I went back to the shop this afternoon hoping to find another metre of the navy grunge – no luck – none left. I bought some dark teal fabric but it was worse than the navy linen – it has lighter blue elements which fight with the Flowers. I decided to stick with the navy linen. I did some browsing to see whether I could find a couple of yards/metres anywhere – looks like this particular Grunge fabric is out of stock just about everywhere, and even if I had found some, it wouldn’t have come for a couple of weeks and I have just one week to get everything finished.
Along my street we’ve got Bradford Pear trees which are filled with lovely “apple/cherry” like blossoms early in the spring. They last maybe a week/ten days and that’s it. I’ve photographed the trees and the flowers each spring I’ve lived in my apartment (going on seven years). I’ll take pictures – of the same trees – again this year.
I did a bit of research to learn more about Bradford Pear trees and discovered they aren’t the best choice although they’re used widely to line streets. One writer identified several reasons why you should avoid them: they grow tall – 40-50 feet, the flowers have a strong, somewhat unpleasant fragrance, often have weak branches – sometimes falling apart after 20 years (!), and they cross pollinate with related trees causing problems if fruit pears are growing anywhere near. Nevertheless, I love how the flower clusters look which is why I decided to include one in this floral collection.
I decided to do very little stitching on the flowers, thinking the detail on the stems, leaves, buds and branch would more than offset the spare flower detail. A good decision, here.
This is #12. The series is now complete.
I’ve laid them out on the floor to think about the display arrangement. I still have to add paper backing, a label, and a sawtooth hanger on the back of each before I can say they are finished. I’ll get that done over the weekend. I plan on showing the full set in Truro, I think. Brandt will only want ten for the December show in Tatamagouche this year – I will have a difficult time deciding which two to hold back! I’m happy with all of them.
Now I can move on to a new quilt, along with some clothing I want to make for the summer.
This flower isn’t from a photo. My friend Elayne gave me a bundle of four 1-yard pieces of Hawaiian barkcloth a number of years ago. It has lovely tropical flowers very sharply printed on a 100% medium weight cotton fabric. I’ve made a couple of wall art pieces from it by carefully cutting out flowers and leaves and mounting them on a raw silk background, then thread painting the resulting image.
I’ve shared the fabric with participants when I’ve done workshops on raw-edge appliqué with thread painting. I still have a lot left. I liked this printed Cereus bloom so I chose it to be one of the flowers in this 6″x6″ project.
This particular fabric had a lot of grey in the leaves and in the centre of the flower – I chose to obscure it with the thread painting. The challenge with this fabric is the weave is somewhat loose so the raw edges are “raw.” I do my best to tame them with edge stitching. I can see a few loose threads in the photo – I will use my very fine pointed tweezers to pull those threads out, and trim what I can’t remove with very sharp, fine embroidery scissors.
When I’ve finished the last flower – Bradford Pear (which grows just down the street) – I’ll decide which of the twelve pieces will go into the final collection of ten. This one may just stand out as different enough to be eliminated. I’ll see.
Lots of thread changing involved in stitching this flower. You’re not aware of the changes because they mirror the shading of the petals and sepals.
Again, the difficult decision – how much to stitch and what to leave open. I’ve enhanced the brightness of the flower colours using the Inktense watercolour pencils – just enough to make different areas stand out a bit more. Overall I’m happy with the detail I’ve managed with this flower.
I took the eight completed pieces to the knitting group yesterday – the reaction was favourable – I guess I’m not wasting my time on this 6×6 project.
What was clear, however, is the women had no sense of the complexity of the work – that for ten of the pieces I’m doing a fabric/threadpainting rendering based on my own photos (the remaining two I adapted from fabric floral prints).
I explained to the gals that I started by going through my photos setting aside any I thought might be turned into a 6×6 piece. Next I edited them, adjusting the colour and cropping them to a 6.2″ x 6.2″ square so when I print them they are the right size for mounting and the colour strong enough to permit me to embellish them. Then I print each photo on a letter size piece of cotton lawn fabric (which is backed with plastic so it can move easily through the printer). After the print dries for a day or so, I removed the plastic and back the fabric with a fusible paperbacked glue sheet before I carefully “fussy cut” each flower.
At the start of the project I had prepared myself a dozen 9 1/2″ x 91/2″ squares of silk tussah which I’d backed with Sewer’s Dream stabilizer to keep the silk from fraying. I marked the position of the 6×6 square using a heat-erasable pen so I’d know where to place the flowers. After each flower was cut out I carefully positioned it onto the silk background, and fused it in place. On some flowers I added extra leaves before the final fusing.
Before doing any thread painting I use a heat-erasable pen to suggest the colour boundaries to be stitched. I might also intensify some colour with Inktense colour pencils or permanent markers. Then I begin sewing.
First I pull spools of thread from my thread stash (which at this point is quite large – a couple of hundred spools in every colour imaginable, a mixture of rayon and polyester – on this project the fibre content doesn’t matter, the colour does, so I mix and match). I constantly change thread (and bobbin) colour as I outline or infill aspects of each flower. For some flower renderings I’ve had to create machine stitches. After finishing each flower, I add my signature.
As I explained my process to the women they found themselves looking at the pieces differently, examining the detail more carefully. At first glance these pieces aren’t necessarily complex but the process of arriving at a finished 6×6 textile wall art piece takes me anywhere from 6-7 hours over a couple of days – likely longer than were I to simply paint the flowers on the 6×6 canvas!
Yesterday when I stopped working on the Iris it didn’t feel done to me. There wasn’t enough detail on the leaves. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to colour them a bit more or just add a bit of stitching – in the end I did both. I shaded both the cluster of leaves on the left as well as the leaves beside the stem. Then I thread-painted the shading. Because the leaves are darker they blend into the whole, not drawing attention to themselves. I’m much happier with this piece now.
One more piece done – #5. This purple oriental poppy was growing in a friend’s garden several years ago. I’ve kept the photo in my library and from time to time I have thought about what I could do with it. I decided to include it in this 6″ x 6″ collection.
I’m reasonably happy with how the flower turned out – you get a sense of the depth of the bloom. The flower centre was challenging – the oriental poppy has a gazillion feathery stamens with long filaments. The pistil is elaborate, too. I had to do quite a bit of practice sewing to find a way of representing the fullness of these floral elements. When you stand back from the rendering (where you no longer can see the stitching), it looks remarkably like a vibrant oriental poppy!
I’ve spent the morning, fussy cutting the flowers, laying them out, fusing them to the raw silk background, redrawing the finished block size, positioning where I want the signature to go on each. The remaining nine are now ready to thread paint.
I’ve tidied up the top of my cutting table, putting fabric scraps back where they live. Stacked the rules in the ruler holder. Put my rotary cutters where they’re normally stashed. Now I have to start selecting thread for the stitching.
It’s a lovely sunny day out – no clouds at the moment. So once I’ve got myself organized it’s time to get out of the apartment! I’ll start sewing on these tomorrow morning.
This one is #3. I finished it yesterday. A surprising number of thread changes involved in this one. I’m pleased with how the flower centre turned out – I didn’t feel it needed a metallic thread; the dark brown/black set up enough contrast with the golden yellow to make the flower lively. The challenge is deciding how much stitching and where. The flowers look better when there is some unstitched space but there still needs to be enough thread painting to give the flower texture.
This is what’s on my cutting table (anti-clockwise starting at the bottom left) – a purple poppy (needing to be fussy cut), a Blue Flag iris, Bradford Pear, a clematis, a peony, a day lily, and a hibiscus I cut from some Hawaiian bark cloth which I’m not going to use. Instead, I added a few more printed photos to the collection – a yellow/pink phalaenopsis, a more vibrant purple iris, and a golden/red hibiscus. That gives me the ten flowers I’m hoping to complete for this set.
I’m waiting now for my latest order of 6×6 mounted canvases to arrive so I can mount these pieces when I’ve finished thread painting. This project will take me another ten days or so to complete.
Osterspermum are African daisies. I first noticed them at garden centres maybe 20+ years ago. They come in a range of colours from off white to a lovely purple, red, orange. I started planting them in the container gardens on my back deck. Over the years I took lots of photos of them.
I decided to include an Osteospermum in the set of ten pieces I’m working on.
Again, on a raw silk background, I fused the fussy cut flower printed on cotton. I selected a variety of rayon and polyester embroidery thread to use for the thread painting. Then I started stitching – first the flower edges with a dusty pink thread, then I spent about an hour designing a stitch to use for the small central florets – I stitched each one separately. Then I worked my way into the centre. wanted to catch the viewer’s eye at the centre – I used a metallic thread paired with a rayon to stitch the unopened florets at the very centre. Last came the leaves.
A second 6×6 piece finished.
Then I went back to Rudbeckia II – I wasn’t happy with the flower centre. I removed the piece from the canvas backing, pressed it lightly and reworked the centre and dark purple areas thread painting with metallic thread.
You can just see the glint of the metallic thread at the centre and in the deep purple areas. The thread painting with metallic thread gives more depth and texture at the flower centre. The slight glint of purple metallic thread livens the whole flower.