I have decided to call this piece finished.
What does remain is the backing, sleeve for hanging, and label—but the art part is complete.
Some of the additions were challenging as I worked from the back; the thread I used was a ribbon type thread, too thick to go through a needle and had to be wound onto the bobbin and the tension loosened. The piece is getting quite thick with the many layers of fabric and thread and my machine was not happy about punching through it.
The next parts will be fairly easy—I just need to finish the quilt loaded on Vivian before I can load up this one and do a bit of minimal quilting. Then the formal portrait with detail shots. Fortunately it is fairly small—24 by 28 and so will fit just great into my photo studio—and I won’t have to get out the pole and drape and ladder for the outside of the shed photo studio.
Since I’ve been working on finishing up some more traditional projects, the next art piece will take a bit of thinking before commencing. I have two ideas, but will mull them over and do a bit of design work first before deciding.
After some thought, I decided that I needed more contrast in the stones to make them appear rougher. I wound Designer 7 (YLI) black—onto several bobbins and began working some darker areas into the individual stones. This is challenging as I am working from the back; the bobbin thread is all the same color from the previous work and it is challenging to see where one stone ends and another begins.
This still wasn’t quite right and so I tried placing a thick cotton thread around the facets of several stones, thinking I would couch it down.
This didn’t seem quite right either.
After more thought, I got out some jeans thread–white—and started working in some lighter areas on the face of each stone. This is heavy work as the piece is getting quite heavy now with all the thread and layers. The bobbin trace got so hot, it burned the bobbin thread and so after two hours work I had to stop and let the machine cool—and my shoulders and elbows and wrists rest as well.
I think this is going to work. I have several more hours of threadwork ahead of me–limited by the heat of the bobbin trace–but a clear path lies ahead.
That print I chose for the wall behind the rocks seemed too bold; I toned it down with some strips of a sheer blue with black polka dots. No, you can’t really see them but they do add to the textural quality. I’ve also added a sheer with black swirly lines over the stones and begun to stitch it all down.
That base fabric is not heavy enough to hold the many layers of thread I use and now you can see on the very edges the addition of a fine wale corduroy. This is one of my favorite fabrics to use as an under layer. It is heavy enough to withstand the stitching, yet flexible.
At this point there is a lot of thread and I am wondering if I have lost the feeling of individual stones.
Time for another rest of the eyes.
Taking a break to do a few other things and letting me eyes rest from the project at hand always seem to let me resume with enthusiasm.
I thought the large pieces of fabric were too plain although I used prints. I wanted more definition of the rocks and so I began adding some bits of color to each stone.
If you look closely you can see the button head pins I used to place some of these pieces. By this time, all those rocks are sewn onto the underlying base fabric. I use a fairly sturdy material such as a duck. I am not particularly concerned with fiber content although I usually use a cotton or cotton blend.
In the upper left corner, I began to add some dyed cheesecloth and tulle to further enhance the idea of rocky surfaces.
Occasionally it is helpful to step back from a piece, fold it up, hide it or bury it under piles of stuff to let the eyes and vision rest.
Working on a small project or three is fun. I save the trimmings from various projects in a small pile on my worktable and will use them to make some small collages destined to become postcard type pieces.
Here is the beginning:
Here is the result with two portraits of Hondurans–an old man and a young girl. I haven’t got them quite right yet–still working on them. It may be time to hide them and put the rocks back up.
After three days of selecting, cutting, some piecing of the tops of the stones and lots of pins, I am now ready to attach these pieces to the background. I like to use a relatively heavy weight fabric such as no-wale corduroy or sometimes canvas. I use a lot of thread and it needs to have a substantial fabric underneath to support the threadwork.
Starting a new piece is always chaotic. On the design board is the full size photo poster. on the floor behind the ironing board and on the floor in front of the ironing board are the pieces being cut from the selected fabrics.
Yes, those are large Tide boxes you see on the shelves behind. When my boys were still at home, I bought the largest size Tide boxes I could find–as I did several loads of laundry every day and more on the weekend. The boxes are sturdy and my fabric always smells nice.
A pile of rocks against a weathered barn wall caught my eye. There was an abundance of moss on a few of those rocks suggesting a long term placement. The rocks or stones or building blocks were piled on each other and on some weathered boards and were definitely not uniform shapes.
After learning a bit in Photoshop in a class by the Pixeladies two years ago, I was able to convert the photo to black and white; resize it and then rather than printing it section by section on my home printer, I emailed it to Office Depot. I splurged on a bit more expensive paper for a poster sized print I could use as my direct pattern for each piece.
The next step was to pull appropriate fabrics–not necessarily true to life colors but ones that were appealing AND as part of a composition exercise regarding proportions of colors contained in a non-related picture. (my image was a map of somewhere near Seattle with cities, roads, rivers, and suggested route in red). Although I started with that color scheme in mind, it quickly became something else.
Tomorrow I’ll show you the next step.
Here is my eye!
I do have two of them.
They are a kind of greeny brown changing in color a bit depending upon what I am wearing. I always wanted blue eyes and that song–Turn my brown eyes blue seemed written just for me.
So I married someone with gorgeous blue eyes and have three sons with equally gorgeous blue eyes.
This piece is going to Sacred Threads for a special exhibit featuring the human eye.
Sacred Threads is a textile/quilt show featuring works of spirituality and human emotions. Some of the pieces are lovely, others reveal the anguish of life.
I’m not sure what mine really reflects.
The background is denim–my favorite go-to fabric, my face is a feedsack, my eye an architectural print, the lenses of my glasses is tulle–a party fabric, and then there is the thread–lots of thread.
It measures 5 by 23; and was a nice diversion from a larger piece that I hope to finish in the next few weeks and show how it came to be.
One of the most challenging things about art is taking its formal portrait.
I’ve tried enlisting local photographers leaving them with explicit instructions only to have images returned with clothespins fastening the piece on a wire–a sleeve was attached to the top; pieces shot at an angle; no detail shots.
That being a failure, I tried pinning the piece to my design boards–covered with gray felt. Then there was the problem of distance from the piece.
I tried hanging the piece on my front porch from hooks and a wire strung through the sleeve. Although I started with not a wisp of wind setting things up; by the time I was ready to push the button on the camera; gale force winds ruffled the edges of the piece.
My next effort including buying two sets of stands and a black photographic drape. This works well except on dark rainy days; additional lighting casts awkward shadows. And I was still limited by size.
And so, this is my next iteration for larger pieces. I hung two sets of brackets on the side of the shed; hung a drape leftover from a quilt show; set up the tripod–remembering the clamp for the camera.
Success for the smaller piece.
Excited by my success, I hung up the next piece. It was too long!
Up on the ladder I went, and moved the closet poles up next to each other.
However, I have a still larger one to photo today. I will be moving those brackets up about six inches.
Thanks to the Pixeladies, I know enough photoshop to crop and re-color, rotate, and resize the images.