I would love to say I can churn out pieces of art anytime. But I can't. I have to wait until the next idea crystalizes. To keep busy, I quilt.
In January I started working on 3 quilts, at once: the "oops" quilt ( which by the way I have ALMOST finished "un-quilting") a small red and white quilt, ( I liked it SO much I'm working on a full size version, but I ran out of a fabric and had to order more so its still in the UFO pile) and a really lovely blue, grey, and white quilt. That one I finished today. But it too was not without its moments.
Carefully measured and assembled I discovered at the very end of its quilting I had miscut the backing (DUH) and I was short 2 inches! The quilt had to come off the longarm, have more backing attached and remounted on the longarm. Do you think it would cooperate? The long and the short of it was I ended up finishing the borders on my domestic sewing machine. I certainly have more admiration for those who stubbornly quilt on their domestics ALL the time.
I think a glass of wine MAY relieve the ache in my hands and shoulders. Might need two.
After a few wobbly moments and sleepless hours, I declare this piece done.
There was a moment yesterday, when I thought I had ruined it by adding the snow to the trees. The resulting effect was to wash out the piece. There was no contrast left. In the middle of the night, listening to the dismal "spring"? rain, I came to terms with restarting this piece.
There was one last solution to try.
As the trees were now, too pale and washed out, I went at the 3 largest trees with fabric paint and gave them some heft again. My, how good that felt.
I also wrestled with hiding the tips of the deer's feet in the snow, but after a few attempts could fine no satisfactory way to do that. Had I made the "drifts" of snow with folded fabric, then I could have done it with the feet. Doing it now made it look out of place.
I won't bind it for a bit. I KNOW I'll fiddle with something, but my intentions are to give it a 1/8 edging in the dark grey of the trees and then finish it with a standard 1/4 inch black binding.
It took one solid day, 7 hours, to micro quilt the background sky. (I'm sure there were several trips to the bathroom and uncountable trips to see if anything interesting had arrived by magic in the Frig. That's a lot of trips up and down the stairs. Who says quilting isn't an aerobic activity?)
As you can see, I've not bothered about the little fraying parts of the tree trunks. Some of the pieces are only a quarter inch wide. The little threads stand in nicely for bare and broken branches.
HOWEVER........ I ended up taking the deer back OFF the piece in order to stitch the Snow. Getting the lines for drifts was hampered by the deer being in place. So she won't go back on now till the bitter end. After the snow is finished? (maybe a few more drift lines?)
It was time to start adding snow to the trees.
The look I wanted was what occurs after driving snow sticks to the side of the tree. I'm thinking I may rename this piece " The Quiet After the Storm".
But horror of horrors, my sewing machine decided it had had enough and I couldn't raise the feed dogs. They are necessary at this point to get an even feed for the zigzag stitch I wanted to put down one side of each tree.
AND I couldn't find my tiny little screw driver to open the sole plate on the machine. Panic!!
I have a great friend down the street who loaned me that tiny little piece of metal. And when I opened the machine there was enough lint to fill a thimble. The "dogs" had been jammed down by the lint. I think I sew a lot.
Quick fix and snow fell on the trees. ( Well, 8 of them. )
The composition is finished.
I may still add a few small trees, but my deer is in the picture.
There is still quite a bit of finishing to do here. I want to add snow to the trees etc, and I have to decide how to finish the sky. Right now I'm leaning towards a micro stippling. The snow is another issue. The fabric has rippled in a rather natural looking manner suggesting drifts and hollows. If I quilt it down these may be lost. Minimal quilting there is required.
The deer needs a few finishing touches as well. Probably another couple of days worth.
It's supposed to go above zero in a few days. A fitting finish to this stroll in the forest.
I stitched trees until I was seeing stitches with my eyes closed, but there is a good base of background filler now. In a few spots I added more grey organza to add a misty film.
But now the background needs weigh. I started first with tiny minced cuts of browns, beiges and rust to mimic the residual winter foliage. This is anchored with invisible thread under netting, and then over stitched with some shrubby branches.
Finally still in the background I added some substantial trees. Slivers of material zigzagged into place. Trees grow up, but not straight. That was easy to accommodate. The last tree is branched. I may go back in stitch branches to the very back trees. Or I may remove it. We'll see.
I haven't decided on the final placement of the deer as yet. There is lots of play here. It depends really on how large I want the final version to be.
Now that the deer is 90% finished, its time to think about a backdrop.
The original picture was okay, but I think the deer can be made to play a more emotional role with a few changes.
So here is Bambi out for stroll. Weather is nice, but this picture is rather dull. So I decided to make the background vertical so the trees themselves could play. (Okay, I have a thing about trees.)
After a short search I came across this photo. It's not vertical but its the look I'm going for.
It has some much needed colour with the dry beech leaves and they compliment the colours in the coat of the deer.
This is a multi layered picture. The trees at the back are pale grey and almost lost in the winter gloom. As you move forward there are fewer branches as the boles of the trees are more pronounced and they become darker and more detailed. Lots going on here.
BUT I wanted to add one more twist. I decided I wanted a winter evening sky with the oranges and the pinks. Placed behind all these trees, it will almost be invisible but it will show.
As its at the very back, of course, that's where to start.
There are 7 different shades of organza here, roughly anchored under netting. While they don't appear to be smooth on the white background they will be tamed by everything that goes over them.
The first thing on the background is grey organza, marking the location of the furthest visible trees but implying more forest behind. And on those pieces, in the palest of grey I stitched a naked tree.
After the first layer of trees, more organza and a darker shade of grey. Yes the first ones will disappear into the background, but they have to be there to fill the void.
I've done as much on the body of the deer as I can until it is anchored to the background. Over stitching in some areas needs more body than this thin cartoon can offer. The stitches won't lay right without the density of the backing.
So here she is for now.
However........ I have considered putting antlers on her/him.
Today I moved onto the main body of the deer. Contouring the belly,flank and shoulders with several colours separate the parts from each other.
I moved onto to head because I found it difficult to keep my reference points with regards to the neck and head. Using black and white I inserted the eyes, nose and with a little bit of grey, the ears. Now its easier to go back to the body and keep the proportions.
So that's probably it for today. I have three hungry young men coming for dinner and I need to start cooking.
It's time to set the quilts aside for a while and get back to my favourite pastime.
It takes quite a while before I commit to a piece. I spend a lot of time looking at photos and fabric and planning how to render what I see in a photo. Well I woke yesterday and it was the day. I spent part of the day selecting a few photos and then projecting them onto my working pages and tracing the outlines. This page is permanent and is kept for future reference and is used as reference for the work in progress. Copies are made of it for piecing.
I haunt the Weather Channel as they have a section where amateurs can post their pictures of the wildlife that lives in their yards and area. What a treasure trove. I can check on colour and sizes and postures.
This is only one a an excellent group of deer photos taken and posted this winter.
A little " photoshopping " and the composition and colouring are vastly improved. So this is what I am attempting today.
The drawing or cartoon comes first.
All of the information about sections of coat colour are put on the drawing. These are not etched in stone. Some get extended and others ignored. Front it patterns are made.
I have chosen three fabrics for this deer, all upholstery in the same weave and weight. The photos add a moiré pattern unfortunately, that does not exist in the material. It does hamper the picture.
My reasoning for three was, the colour of the deer changes from the foreground to the background and this would best be show with actual different colours. The range of threads used to highlight the coat will be the same.
I assemble the shape on a lightweight woven poly, a material used for tracing patterns. Its stands up well to repeated handling and sewing and cuts away easily.
The White tail is inserted here. There are several places where white will be added as well as black. Thread painting will do for most areas but this was a large portion and needed to be solid.
To control the fraying which often accompanies upholstery material, I first anchored all the edges with an invisible thread zigzag. Then I started on the tail and the back end.
First up was a thread colour as close to the fabric as I had, then overlaid with a darker brown, following visually the markings from the cartoon and the picture.
And then one last past with a very dark Brown.
I will not touch the white areas until I'm ready to do the ears and the rest of the white patches.
A rather handsome rump!
My initial layout looks great. I've decided to replace that floral intruder with a lovely batik piece.
And here the slippery slope begins. I was trying to restrict myself to using only my charm squares and not cut anything, but oh the possibilities If I do.
I guess I really want a full size quilt and therein lies the problem.
I did come across one solution albeit a bit radical.
Here's the original.
This was the intended (by my hosts) layout. Very sweet and I would be happy with it if it weren't for the size. It would be a charming and unusual Baby quilt.
This was my first variation, Sash everything.
It does add an bit of interest as well, but still too small.
So I increased all the sashing to the width of the white fabric bars. And Voila! A Queen size.
Now the blocks appear to be floating. Nice. HOWEVER, I have to check to see if I have enough material. The white was a remnant.
While I loved the QR Code, this canvas was still empty so I filled those spots with an appliqued sailing vessel, 3 times the size as the background ones and, because every sailor needs one, a Compass Rose!
It was so nice to join other members of my quilting guild last Saturday, Feb 1 for a full day of sewing, chatting and eating. Our guild hosts a PPM's (Past President Mystery Quilt) several times a year. The limited participants are given scant information and arrive with their fabric choices and wait for further instructions. ( And we are shamelessly waited on with coffee, sumptuous food and IRONING. OMG! What's not to love.)
Last year's was such fun I happily joined in a again. (It took me almost a year to finish last years')
For my materials, I opened my stash and grabbed a handful of charm squares (5 inch blocks) I had accumulated over several years. These were all given to me by members of our Fibre Arts Group exchange, and I had a large selection of blues and greens. (Might these be my favourite colour?)
So I assembled all my blocks and now remains to arrange them, sew them together. This is not a large quilt and if I do decide to try to enlarge it to bed size, I have no more charm squares in these colours. I COULD cut material but that seems to me to defeat the point of this exercise, using up the charms. Do I add another colour, or will simply reconfiguring the design give me a pleasant and charming lap quilt?
Here's my first layout.
Not too bad, I suppose. Gradual progression of colours.
Stay tuned for more variations.
Well things can't always go along smoothly. We need a few humbling moments in out lives. So this is mine for January/February.
I'm in the process of un-quilting a queen size. Sigh.
I thought my idea was pretty good.
It's a batik. They originate from the far east. The symbols that come to mind were similar to the Henna designs that women apply. Why not on the Quilt. (I'm so clever) And I did them REALLY BIG.
IF I had chosen one and repeated it.. maybe, but I did 14, and I did them in dark purple.
Looked like a dogs breakfast, with no cohesion.
2 days of quilting,.......3 weeks and counting of un-quilting. (Gotta take a lot of breaks! )
At the END I finally came up with a suitable design. Its still gotta go, I don't like the colour.