I took this photo in the main square in Cortona, Tuscany in April. We were visiting the city and enjoying the food and the shops and just wandering around – these two men deeply engrossed in conversation caught my attention. I’ve known from the outset this would become the basis of a wall art project.
Enjoying The Morning Sun
I started playing with the image yesterday – first I wanted to remove the other people, to isolate the companions. The blue-shirted gentleman is making a classical Italian gesture – thumb pressed to first and second fingers moving his wrist back and forth; in his other hand he has a cigarette. I want to bring the viewer’s eye to this man.
Morning Sun – Initial Steps
With the other people removed and just the shops behind, the men now stand out – I removed the advertising from the supermarket windows – I will do them in the same dark colours you can see through the open shop door. I intend to keep the partial bench on the right (having taken away the woman who is reading and smoking).
Looking at this image now, I think I want the men to be on the right side – it’s got something to do with the speaker being stronger in that position. I’m about to try cutting off the building on the right and repositioning it on the left, reversing the bench so it is cut off at the left edge – that will also allow me to strengthen the greenery growing on the stones of the facade behind.
It’s not enough that I’m taking on this project, I’m also working on a second. I took photos of some poppies in Marlene’s front garden this summer and these two oriental poppies are striking. I started by outlining the petals so I could do a tracing which I’ll use for cutting out red fabrics. They’re growing beside a light green hosta, with a taxus shrub behind and a darker hosta in the top left corner.
Tomorrow I will start looking for fabrics I can use to construct both these images. Generally I work on one piece at a time. For some reason both have been insistent I begin work on each of them.
Yesterday I finished a second leaf. For the moment I’ve left the medium teal unstitched and I think I like how it looks. I’ve covered the grey with the light teal thread and the dark areas are stitched but I like the texture leaving the medium coloured area as is, for now, at least.
Next I will tackle the red/pink anthuriums – they will actually be a bit easier to work on because the colour moves in a way that will make the stitching flow. Probably not today, though. This morning I went back to the double convergence quilt top.
One leaf done – a second underway and weeks of work left to do.
The question is why bother? Why didn’t I just fussy cut the flowers, fuse and edge-stitch them in place and leave it at that? Good question. The thread painting, in spite of the large amount of work involved, adds interesting texture and dimension to the fabric turning it into a piece of wall art. I probably should have thought more about the size of the piece before I began, choosing fewer elements, but this panel does make an interesting art object. So I committed myself to the work. In addition, the fabric raw edges are inclined to fray because the bark cloth is loosely woven – thread painting lets me densely edge stitch creating a sharper outline for the flowers and leaves.
I started with printed bark cloth given me by a friend – 4 one metre pieces with different coloured backgrounds. I chose the blue to work with here but you can see from the black piece just how clearly printed the flowers are. The fabric provides a lovely foundation for doing thread painting.
The first step is to choose a few flowers/leaves and cut them out. Next I apply a fusible web to the back of the fabric, pressing the whole thing flat, then fussy cutting before removing the paper backing from the fused web – the paper makes cutting out much sharper. Once the flowers are fused to a background fabric, thread painting can begin.
So that’s where I am in the process. It will take many hours to fill in the colour gradation of the leaves and flowers – I’m working to eliminate the grey using light values of the adjacent colours so “grey” won’t mean grey when I’ve done thread painting – there will be pale green, or pale teal, or pale pink where grey currently is found.
The flowers/leaves on the black backed fabric don’t have grey, instead the fabric has appropriate light shades for each element, making the decision-making process somewhat easier. But now, back to the teal leaf which I began yesterday….
You’d think because this piece has borders and piping that I’ve done all the thread painting – wrong! I started adding borders on the weekend because I was having the second session for the thread painting workshop and I needed to be able to show the gals how I finish a piece. I’d carefully marked (using a heat removable Frixion pen) a centre vertical line, used that to set up the inner border line. I kept all the markings visible as I partially bordered the piece. (Here are instructions for how I do borders with piping: creating borders). I marked locations and created a signature to show how I position the signature embroidery, as well.
Then I began thread painting – this is going to take several weeks – there’s a lot of fabric to cover – I did enough on the leaf on the bottom left to give an idea of how I shade the colours using two different but similar rayon threads through my needle eye. This provides a bit more texture than using just a single thread and lets me fill in spaces more quickly.
Thread Painting Underway On A Leaf
My plan is to eliminate the grey on leaves and flowers using other shades to in-fill spaces. In this leaf, I’ve used pale greens/yellow greens to stitch in the grey areas. I also did pistils on the anthuriums, flower stems, and leaf central veins while I had a specific thread combination on the machine. This is not my usual way of working but in order to share technique with the gals I did a lot of skipping around.
Now I need to settle in to resume thread painting; this weekend I plan on finishing this leaf and move on to the darker green one above. I also need to baste the edge of the outer border to the batting so I can more easily move the piece around while threading painting.
Finally finished this convergence quilt yesterday. Got the binding done and label sewn on. Two sets of mistakes that went together – totally unexpected and unplanned. It definitely worked out quite well.
Finished Quilt Top
I’m happy I took out the narrow vertical turquoise stripe – it disrupted the left-right movement of the convergence flow. Replacing it with the narrow turquoise border was a good decision. I didn’t have enough grey crackle fabric to complete the binding so I incorporated a turquoise piece I trimmed from the backing after I’d finished quilting. I ran out of binding as I was coming to the join and inserted another small piece of turquoise to complete it. I like where that insert landed.
Fiished Quilt Back
To create the quilt back I set up a “jellyroll race” using leftover bits of fabric from the top, with a narrow strip inserted and two unequal sashing strips. Using the turquoise for the backing sets up an interesting flow from top of quilt to the back. There’s enough turquoise in the top that when you flip the quilt over you retain the connection between top and bottom.
The ombre fabric I ordered online arrived Friday so I will now work on completing the double conversion quilt featuring the ombre fabric.
But before I can get to that, I’m have to work on the thread painting wall hanging.
Detail – Thread Painting Floral Wall Art
I started the thread painting last Tuesday as part of a class I’m teaching (I stitched the dark green parts of this and another leaf although you can’t really see what I’ve done in the photo). We meet again coming Tuesday and I have made no progress on the stitching work. Nevertheless I need to move on to framing the piece so I’ve trimmed it, I’m in the process of adding a bit more batting to the edges to allow enough background to balance the floral arrangement and provide support for the borders. Then I have to set up the marking (using Friction heat erasable pens) so I can apply the borders – have to get that process well underway before Tuesday – not completed, but started so I can demonstrate how I add borders. The framing of the piece won’t hinder the massive amount of thread painting I will still have to do.
Just finished the panel. (It’s actually squarer than the photo shows – its all about the angle I’m holding the phone at).
Australian Open 2018 – Federer’s 20 Grand Slam Win
Finished size: 20 3/4″ x 16 1/2″.
Techniques Used: Raw Edge Appliqué, Thread Painting, Machine Embroidery.
In the end I did less thread painting than I originally intended – I did none on the court walls other than to secure the edges. The grunge fabric provided quite a bit of texture which I decided I didn’t want to disrupt so I left the dark backing alone after embroidering the Jacob’s Creek name and logo. I did the barest amount needed to hint at the shadows of Federer created by the overhead lighting. I did densely stitch the white lines on the court to hold those narrow pieces securely. But that was it.
That’s all the wall art for now. This is #9 of the pieces I wanted to complete for the showing at the Art Labs in Parrsboro end of July to mid-August. Added to the 8 quilts I have ready, the gallery walls will be full.
I have two large projects I agreed to do for other people that have sitting around for more than 6 months – I have to get them done and out of the apartment. Then I can turn to making some clothing for myself and think about how to use a couple of fabric collections I bought for quilts a couple of months ago.
This is as far as I’ve got with this wall art panel at the moment.
I had set up embroideries for the Jacob’s Creek winery logo and the serve speed readout. I tested each embroidery on fabric scraps, made adjustments and tested them again. Then I took a deep breath and started to embroider directly on the panel. One error and the whole project is a goner. I was very lucky – the Jacob’s Creek logo embroidered nicely each time and the serve speed readout turned out crisp and a good size.
Before doing the embroideries, I’d shaded the court and thread painted the surface adding the shadows beneath Federer’s feet (both feet are about 1″ above the court surface – he’s actually in the air in the original photo) as well as the lighter shadows cast by light coming from another direction at the end of the court.
Australian Open 2018 – Federer vs. Cilic
I’m still thinking about whether I want to put in any shading on the court walls or not – if you click on the image you’ll see I used a shaded fabric (Grunge by Moda) – I’m not inclined to follow the random pattern of the fabric; were I to add thread painting, I’d mirror the shading I used on the court.
I’ve stopped for now. I’ve stitched around Federer himself using a fine clear (invisible) monofilament thread. I will likely stitch the shadows on his clothing and body and indicate the colour changes on his shirt, socks, and shoes. Tomorrow. I’ll look at it again tomorrow and see what I think then.
I also have no idea yet what to use to bind/border the panel. When I get the thread painting done, I’ll trim the panel, add the narrow silk inner border, then see what I have in my stash that might complement the panel itself and bring out the colour in it.
Finally done – borders and backing completed. I have to say it’s growing on me. In spite of the fused interfacing I still got some “bubbling” of the fabric. It’s much less noticeable when you stand in front of the actual panel but it is definitely visible in the photo.
Finished size: 16 3/8″ x 20 3/4″.
Techniques: raw-edge appliqué, thread painting (done with feed dogs down, and needle in the down position which lifts the presser foot when I stop, so I am able to maintain a consistent stitch length but freely move the stitching as I sew to create curved, flowing lines).
The background is pieced from fabric; the figure was enlarged, printed on fabric, and “fussy cut”. In the original photo the woman was on the left of the image; in this rendition I moved her slightly to right of centre to provide a better context for the direction of her gaze. The dark outer border fabric strengthens the light within the image.
I’ve got this far today. Added the windows and the handrail (lots of stitching on both). Added shading to the decking and stitched the boards.
I’ve positioned (and sort of fused) the woman – now I need to stitch her in place using a clear invisible thread and a very narrow blanket stitch. Then I’ll be able to fill in shadow lines and other colour demarkations. I also need to add her shadow to the deck so that she’s attached to the rest of the image. Tomorrow!
On Deck 3
Finished these colourful socks last evening. They’ve gone in the give-away collection – while I have clothes in these colours I don’t need (actually, I don’t have room for) another pair of socks in my sock drawer!
Today: I added a medium weight woven fusible interfacing (which doesn’t seem to have “fused” – oh well – I’ve stitched it at the edge and around the “finished” image lines), I finished stitching the water, added some darker thread strategically to the headland to give it more depth, did a bit of sewing in the sky, just enough to bring out some clouds.
On Deck 2
Now I need to plan out the windows (the decking is there – I’ll make it more plank-like with permanent markers and stitching with dark thread). The windows I have to think about, so that’s for tomorrow – I need to let that next step percolate and see what ideas emerge in the morning.
Yesterday I visited my friend Marlene – her Oriental Poppies were in glorious bloom (it hasn’t rained here for a few days although it’s raining today so I imagine I caught the flowers at just the right moment).
The petals just glowed! Simply wonderful. There are lots of buds still to open so she should have more flowers after today’s rain has knocked the petals off the present ones.
I tried, unsuccessfully, to grow oriental poppies both in the garden beds and in my container garden at the townhouse, not enough direct sunshine. I never got much of anything. Marlene’s have been growing in that same location at the front of her house forever – close to 50 years, I’d guess.
I’ve given up gardening altogether (except for a few phalaenopsis and an occasional amaryllis indoors) – my balcony faces north-east – right now I’m getting the sunrise coming in my living room windows and on my deck but the sun’s completely moved on by 10:00am – not enough direct sun for anything other than geraniums. I wanted to grow hibiscus – I brought two potted hibiscus with me when I moved into the apartment, but once on the balcony I stopped getting flowers – just not enough sunlight.