Peony

With the Peony, I’m playing around with Danny Amazonas’ fused appliqué technique – a collage of small pieces of fabric fused on top of one another to create depth and detail for both the background and the main subject.

I began by preparing 20″ x 26″ pieces of muslin and batting and sewing them together along the 9″ x 12″ dimensions in the center of the quilt – this marked my outside boundary. Then I pencilled in the approximate location for the focal element – the peony. That gives me an inner boundary for the background appliqué collage.

Backing Prepared

One of the things I’ve learned from looking carefully at Amazonas’ textile art is the background is livelier when there’s visible small pattern elements in the fabrics. The overall effect is a shaded dark support for the focus element which sets up the contrast for the finished art work.

I cut pieces from the fabrics I’d collected and auditioned them to see how I might establish a colour flow within the background.

Auditioning Fabrics For The Background

I applied “wonder-under,” a paperbacked fusible web to my complementary and contrasting pieces of background fabric. Then I cut small pieces from each and arranged them filling the space from outer to inner boundary.

Background Fused In Place

At this point, the background looks lighter in overall tone than it will once the light fabrics are added in the center to create the very pale pink flower. If the background still seems too light when the peony is added, I will apply a wash using acrylic paint to tone down the brighter colours.

As far as I can tell, Amazonas doesn’t sew on top of his constructions. My plan is to do the same in this demonstration piece. However, when it’s assembled I may feel it wants more detail and add some thread painting. I’ll have to see how it turns out.

That’s it for today.

Rudebeckia II

I’ve been working away at the Rudebeckia piece all this week. Tons of decisions to make, this fabric or that, cut using a traced template or free cut, where to position the elements, how much detail to use in the background, what colour thread…. Every decision is a final one as well – there isn’t much that can be undone as the work grows. It’s how it is.

Here I’ve partially stitched “leaves” in the background (I’ll finish that stitching when I’ve done the thread painting on the flowers). The central flower is all assembled and fused in place as are the other two flowers.

Applique Fused, Partially Stitched

And then the thread painting began. I started in the middle of the main flower and worked my way out from dark thread to the light. I worked at my machine for a couple of hours each day until I finished the detail stitching this afternoon.

Here is the back of finished piece – you can see how much stitching it required to complete the work.

Thread Painting From Back

Final decision – the piece is a work of art, it needs a signature and date. I set up an embroidery on my computer, transferred it to my embroidery machine and used my metal hoop (which uses magnets to hold the fabric in place). I carefully measured where I wanted my signature to go, then holding my breath hit the embroider button. It came out fine.

This is the finished piece (I still have to hand stitch the invisible binding in place which I’ll do this evening). Final dimensions: 9″ x 12″ – it’s a small piece but a lot of work.

Rudebeckia Completed

That’s one piece completed and three more to go before June 6.

Rudebeckia

Rudebeckia

I’ve started this appliqué piece from a photo of a large textile art piece by Kate Themel. Mine is going to be small – finished size ~ 9″ 12″. I’m doing it as one of several examples of textile art for a class I’m teaching in June. I decided to use this image because it’s obvious where the colour demarkations are – they are often hard to see when you’re not used to looking at photos for that detail. To emphasize the colour layers I often print my photos (or enlarged photo elements) in black and white so I can distinguish contrasting tones. I will do that in another of the examples to illustrate how that is done.

Here, I began by tracing the main image areas thinking about the fabric layers I’d need. Then I pulled lots of scraps from my stash in the range of colours I wanted to use, making sure I had lots of contrast.

Rudebeckia 1

Next I set up my working background – a piece of muslin 20″ x 26″ (much larger than the finished art piece just in case I might want to add borders, binding…) backed with Warm ‘n Natural batting. I marked both the horizontal and vertical centres, then marked the dimensions for my finished piece, and stitched along those lines. Although the piece has to built from the background up, I focused on the main flower to begin with, cutting out the petals and the darkest accent from templates I created from the photo.

Rudebeckia 2

Next I added a dark background, fused and stitched it in place. I’ve done some dark leaf cutouts which will be fused in position later. At the moment I’m building up the layers of each petal of the main flower – four to go (I’ve kept each template pinned to the fabric so I know where the petals go later when it’s time to fuse the flower in place). I’ve also chosen fabrics for two background flowers which will be darker, less prominent, than the central one.

Before I can add the main flower, however, I have to thread paint the dark background to suggest foliage, then add the background flowers and thread paint them, add leaves and thread paint them, and finally the main black-eyed susan.

The next small example will be based on Peony by Danny Amazonas:

Peony

I’ve chosen this example to illustrate his fused appliqué without thread painting. Again, Amazonas’ piece is quite large, mine will end up a similar size to Rudebeckia – 9″ x 12″, so I won’t be able to include quite as much detail as Amazonas but I will be able to show the building up of the image from background to central focal point.

The example after that will be based on a photo I took a number of years ago:

Fence

This piece will illustrate how to create the effect of light by setting up extreme contrasts – the fence rails will be done using off-white fabric, heavily stitched with both blending and contrasting  thread to suggest the shadows. Also I will construct the background at the top of the image using pale fabrics but cover  it with one or more layers of pale grey silk organza to suggest the fog and the foreground will require a LOT of thread painting over carefully fussy-cut layers of fabric.

Watching the World

My fourth example may well be based on this photo (with boys positioned to the right rather than the left) to illustrate incorporating photo elements printed on fabric into a textile art piece.

I’ve got my work cut out for me for the next month!

Sunflower – Completed

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“Sunflower”

Just finished!

I started working on this piece two weeks ago. I began with the original photo – cropped it, enlarged it, then printed out sections, taped them together, traced individual petals using tissue paper, planned out the background and traced the shapes…

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“Sunflower” – paper template to enlarged size

Next I collected fabrics from my stash, bought some new pieces, started building the background, cut out the petals and arranged them in place,

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“Sunflower” – the elements cut out and positioned

then started stitching: I laid down four horizontal strips of fabric from top to bottom, stitched them in place. Then added the leaf elements, edged stitched them – I didn’t “free motion” because I wanted more precision so, instead, I slowly freely stitched with my feed dogs in place – that allowed me to stitch very close to the edge of the appliquéd pieces. Next, I added a bit of detail and fill.

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“Sunflower” – background stitched

Once the background was completed, I laid out the flower petals, fused them in position, then began carefully stitching them, first using a light thread at the edges, then more golden/orange threads for the centre of each petal. Finally I stitched the centre of the flower – my goal was to bring out the spiral pattern of the florets (the centre of the flower was printed on fabric to retain the natural detail of the floret arrangement, as well as the few small bursts of blue – too small to add using cut bits of fabric).

To finish the piece, I added a 3/8″ inner border of raw silk, mitred at the corners, then a purple piping, and finally a 3″ batik frame also mitred at the corners.

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“Sunflower” – stitching detail

The whole piece I backed with muslin, including a sleeve for hanging at the top.

Now I’m walking around the apartment trying to find a place to hang it – there doesn’t seem to be one, without taking something else down! I’m really going to have to think about where to display it.

"Sunflower" without frame

“Sunflower” without frame

Art Quilts: Flowers

Danny Amazonas is a Taiwanese textile artist who makes amazing art works (many of them quite large!) by sketching an image on blank fabric then using bits of fabric (with fusible interfacing on the back) as if it were brush and paint. I can see how the work is constructed from the background up. What I can’t tell is whether he top stitches any of the elements (although I’ve seen photos of him sewing on a large piece so perhaps he does some stitching). Here’s a recent video interview of Amazonas in Tokyo where he’s describing his art quilts.

The reason for my interest in Amazonas’ work is I’d like to try it on a piece of my own. I’ve been scouring my photo collection for images of flowers that a might make a strong visual image when constructed from many bits of fabric.

Version 2

Sunflower

I took this photo of a sunflower it’s gotta be 15 years ago – I have a copy of the photo hanging in my apartment. But I’d love to enlarge it somewhat and have a go at piecing the image. I love the detail of the flower, but I also love the soft green/mauve background which sets off the yellow of the flower.

Other artists piece their work but also clearly top stitch/thread paint their creations:

black-eyed-susan

Kate Themel – Rudbeckia

zinnia950

Barbara Olson – Zinnias

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Zinnias Detail

I have a couple of other images that would work as floral panels as well – I guess I could always do a series of hangings:

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Phaelanopsis

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Strelitzia reginae

both of which would make spectacular images. I’d crop both to make the bloom more prominent. If I were to try panels 14″ x 10,” a series of three would be interesting.

In any case, my next step is to cut a piece of muslin about 20″ x 20″ (to give me lots of area to work with), sketch out elements of the sunflower, go through my stash pulling every bit of yellow/orange/brown I have (small scraps are going to be useful), collect some blues/greens/pale mauves/ for the background. I will need to add fusible interfacing to pieces of fabric then start cutting, placing and pressing…

It’s like facing a blank canvas with some paint on my palette, taking a deep breath and just starting.

Double Vision Quilt IV – Completed

Finally done – the binding turned out to be a very fiddly job – I decided in the end a single fabric binding would clash with the border no matter what fabric I chose because the gradation from the dark burgundy to golden yellow was so great. The solution: to have the binding mirror the border with the joins aligning as closely with the border slanting seams as I could manage it.

Finished Quilt Top

Finished Quilt Top

It’s taken three days of measuring, sewing, unpicking, re-sewing, to make the joins look continuous. I’ve done a pretty good job although close scrutiny would show I missed by a wee bit on some of the connections but hey, this is a quilt after all, so I decided to live with the minor imperfections that showed up when I was stitching the binding on the right side.

Binding - Detail

Binding – Detail

In the end I decided to piece a simple back since the front is so complex and for some reason (which I can’t explain) I thought placing the strip on one edge was what was called for. The binding I knew would also add some interest to the back.

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Finished Quilt Back

I quilted using straight vertical and horizontal lines midway between the circles. So far, I haven’t quilted the border although that is still a possibility. It’s probably a tiny bit wide to leave unquilted. For now I’m putting the quilt aside to move on to other projects.

Double Vision Quilt III

My initial plan was to border the central element with a black-grey-white border. I laid out the fabric (before cutting the 3 1/2″ strips, thank goodness) and it looked awful!

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Auditioning a border

I stood back for a bit and walked around the pieced centre and decided to try a border in reds – that’s gonna work just fine!

So tomorrow I will cut out my strips from the fabrics assembled, piece them (using mitred joins) and apply the border to the quilt – also mitring the corners.