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Moon shots and astronauts

Earlier this year I was invited to interpret an astronaut for a retrospective look at the Apollo programs. Although I missed the eclipse due to rain and clouds, I managed to finish up this piece the day of the eclipse. It is now ready to send on for inclusion in a show and book—to be announced later.

My assignment was Dick Gordon. I looked through official NASA photos–all copyright free, and read about him on his website and on Wikipedia. He is an impressive person as I suspect most of the astronauts are.

Here is my interpretation with a couple of detail shots.

a few details here

For those of you curious about my process:

I choose a photograph and do some drawings to get a general feel for working with the image.

I enlarge either the photo or the drawing, preferably the drawing and mark major pieces==head, hand, hair, suit.

I choose fabrics for the image and compose a background. The fabrics are carefully chosen, in this case I used a print of the pledge of allegiance. It is small enough that the viewer must get close and even then turn to one side to read it.

I piece the pieces together and use needle turn applique to place the figure on the background.

I back the fabric with a sturdy material of some sort. This time I used silence cloth–a non-woven flannel like fabric used under tablecloths to sllence the sounds of cutlery and china. My favorite fabric is waleless or fine wale corduroy; this fabric is very fuzzy and I had to clean my machine at frequent intervals.

I stitch the image down by machine using a very small and fine zig-zag stitch in approximately the colors of each piece.

Now, comes the fun part. I add lots of thread in assorted colors. I make a selection of colors and place them by families in a deli-tray–the round kind with a center for the dipping sauce. In the center I place six wound bobbins of a medium color Dual Duty Coats N Clark thread.

When I have used those six bobbins I stop for the day. I need to step back and assess. I frequently steam press the piece to keep it flat.

Depending on my assessment, I will wind another six bobbins and continue on until I have the piece completed to my satisfaction. It may take up to a week or more of this step depending on the size and complexity to complete the piece.

Now I place the piece on a back of some sort; pin  baste it, and quilt around the main pieces, just enough to keep the backing and top together. The piece is squared up and bound; a sleeve attached to the top, and washers to the bottom to encourage the piece to hang straight.

A label is added, official photographs are taken and uploaded into smugmug, information regarding size and other details is logged into my notebook of artwork and it is time to begin a new piece.

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