Monday, March 16, 2015

Seeking a Path

I'm having a solo show at the Clare Gallery at the Church of St. Patrick and St. Anthony in Hartford, at the end of 2015, tentatively titled "Seeking a Path."

With an eye toward that show, I've been creating pathway images these days, and I'm just about to finish my latest one.

This piece started out as a photo of my daughter Leah on the trail leading from Great Head, a stunning promontory in Acadia National Park, Maine.
I printed the photo out as an 8 x 10, then traced it.  I brought the traced version to Staples to have it enlarged.  Enlarged, it became a full-size pattern for this piece.  I used a lightbox to trace it onto a piece of pima cotton which I had first brushed with GAC 900.  GAC 900 is a fabric conditioner which made the fabric more hospitable to the painting treatment which was to follow.

Once the traced version was on the fabric, I then went ahead and put the color down with  Derwent Inktense pencils.  Many thanks to the ladies of Women Against the Grain, who introduced me to those pencils.
Here's what this piece looked like during that part of the process.

Once I got all the color down, I layered the painted fabric with batting and backing and stitched through all the layers to accentuate each area of color.  I guess you could say it's a technique that combines quilting and thread painting in one swell foop.

My big question for myself was how I was going to show the leafy foliage.  I wanted to lay down little bits of fabric, sometimes called confetti.

Want to know how you make these?  My quilting friends know this but possibly not everyone does. You cut a piece of fabric into tiny strips and then cut the strips crosswise into tiny squares:

They're fabulous for creating a pointillistic effect, but the question is how to fasten them down.  Until now, my go-to approach has involved holding them down with an invisible, heat-activated bonding agent (such as Misty Fuse) and a piece of tulle.

That technique is kind of labor-intensive, so I decided to see whether there could be an easier way to get those teensy weensy pieces to stay down.  I discovered that my felting machine could work for that purpose.

This is a Baby Lock Embellisher, aka felter.  I own one of these, and have now discovered that its tiny barbs are effective in sticking these tiny confetti down to a quilt surface.

 Once they're scattered on the fabric, the confetti have to be arranged and spread around, because they tend to clump.  That can be kind of labor intensive in itself:

Nevertheless, eliminating the bonding agent and the iron is a major step forward, and I like the effect I get:

I did put down a layer of tulle over the confetti.  I've never used this embellishment technique on a quilt before, and even though that confetti was stuck down pretty convincingly, I didn't want it falling off at any point.  Thus, I put down a layer of tulle over the foliage parts of the quilt.

For the final step, I laid down strips of fabric printed in the black and white of birchbark:

Here's the final result of all those processes: