Monday, May 12, 2014

Cabbage: Cure for Anxiety.

I hate working under a tight deadline.  Tight deadlines don't get my  adrenaline going, as they do for some people.  For me, they get my dread going.  Under a tight deadline, I worry, I fumble, I make mistakes.

So when I found out last weekend that an impending deadline for an Important Show was less than a month away, I felt the anxiety coming on. 

This deadline is for publicity for an art quilt show in which I'm participating with an ad-hoc group of other art quilters, ladies who are among the most talented I know:  Kate Themel, Mickey Lawler, Trish Hodge and Diane Wright.  Together, calling ourselves Five Fiber Friends, we've been able to interest Fair Haven Furniture, a New Haven furniture store with an art gallery in its midst,,
to hang an art quilt show.  This will take place in August and September, 2014.

But oops, now we find the publicity deadline is June 1.  By that date, Fair Haven Furniture needs images of our work for its advertising.  So I've got to do something quickly, and it's got to be good.

Did I mention that I was nervous about this?

Originally, my plan had been to try a new technique.  In fact, I was going to spend the spring and much of the summer trying new materials for this show.

But now I find I don't have the luxury of time for experimentation with anything new.  I decided that I'd be better off going with something that I already know I can do.

That would be cabbage.

Here are a couple of the cabbage images I've created over the past few years:
Glowing Cabbage III, 2011, private collection

Glowing Cabbage II, 2011, private collection
Homage to Cabbage II

Homage to Cabbage III
I decided I'd made enough cabbages to take the stress out of creating another. 

Cabbage.  The cure for anxiety.

I culled through my photo bank of images of cabbages I've grown in my yard, and I chose these three:

I'm calling this one Weeping Cabbage.  Look at the big teardrops on the bottom leaf.

I'm calling this one Perfect Green Cabbage

I'm calling this one Brooding Cabbage for the dark rumpledness of its leaves.

Unable to choose between the pearly silvers and lilacs of Weeping Cabbage and the pearly green of Perfect Green cabbage, I chose to proceed with both of them.

I printed out the images of each one on business size paper, then traced the images onto tracing paper.  I brought the traced versions to Staples and asked them to blow them up to 20 x 20--the size needed for the publicity shots.

 To choose the colors for the leaves of the two cabbages, I experimented with Jacquard and Pebeo Setacolor paints.  My painting is inspired by Mickey Lawler's Skydyes, an all-purpose handbook about applying paint to fabric.

On the top row, from among the greens, I chose the rightmost two.  On the bottom row, from the pinks, I also chose the rightmost two.  Each is a blend.

I think I got pretty close to the colors of the leaves in the photo images.

Before applying paint to fabric for the leaves, I  traced the outlines of each image onto a piece of fabric that would become the background for the cabbages.  On another piece of fabric, I traced the outline of each individual leaf, which would be embellished and layered before being cut out.

This traced background shows me where to sew the leaves, once I'm ready to sew them on.
For the leaves of Weeping Cabbage, first I put down  a mix of Pebeo setacolor paints in shimmer pearl mixed with silver and a blend I call vibrant reddish purple  (vermilion and ultramarine).  I then followed those colors with a second sponging, this one with a mix of Jacquard colorless medium blended with Pearl-Ex powder in silver-gray lavender. The result was pretty close to the duskily glowing purples of the weeping cabbage.

The color for the leaves of Perfect Green Cabbage was similarly a layering of different blends.  First, I put down a mix of Pebeo shimmer pearl, silver, and one drop of a color I call dark spruce green (emerald with a drop of black).   I then followed that with a second sponging, this one a mix of shimmer pearl, a color I call dark tropical green (yellow, cobalt, few drops of black ), a color I call dark teal (a blend of emerald and cobalt), and a Pebeo color called light green.

I think I came pretty close to the color for Perfect Green Cabbage.

You can just see the outlines of my chalk marks in the photo above.  The chalk marks went down first, traced before the fabric was painted.

By now, I've embellished the leaf shapes--which I similarly traced onto a different piece of fabric--with Shiva paintsticks to give them highlights and shadows.  Once the paintstick parts have cured (you're supposed to give them three days) I'll use satin stitch to make the veins.

This is a leaf for Weeping Cabbage.  You can see the chalk veins which I laid down before I painted the fabric.  Those veins will soon be traced by satin stitch.  You can also see the shadows and highlights I laid down with Shiva paintsticks, in iridescent white and iridescent purple, on top of the painted fabric.  I'm waiting for the Shiva colors to cure.

For the bottoms of each leaf, I've traced the veins from my pattern onto fusible interfacing.  Then I sewed pipe cleaners onto the interfacing to show the prominent veins of each leaf.  This layered item was bonded to coordinated fabric which forms the back, or lining, of each leaf.

This is the bottom, or backside, of a leaf

With this technique, each leaf is wired, but the wiring is on the inside, sandwiched between fusible interfacing bonded to coordinating fabric on one side, and the embellished, decorated leaf top on the other.  Get it?

While I'm waiting for the paintstick colors to cure, I'm thinking about the colors of the background on which I will lay these individually-prepared leaves.

For Perfect Green Cabbage, I chose tropical green, left.  For Weeping Cabbage, a blend of shimmer pearl and drop tropical green (right). 

Now my iron has just died.  I checked Consumer Reports and there were 260 reviews of irons.  Why is everything always so complicated?

And why am I sitting here blogging about this process if I'm so worried about finishing it?

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