Thursday, September 18, 2008

fruition or bust

As I wrote last week, the bathing-begets-art muses needed to make a few more visits before I could complete the design of my entry for an upcoming Studio Art Quilt Associates show. I am happy to report that the muses did make it, but I am not sure how well I carried out their advice in my finished piece.

I chose these three cellular structures photos as my centerpieces (see earlier post for their genesis):

I just think the colors are luscious -- deep copper, turquoise -- now to print them on silk!

There lies the (first) rub...the printing, both on silk and on cotton was poor poor depth, poor color reproduction, no matter how many runs I tried (read: $$$). (Note to Santa: please please please bring me an Epson 2400 for Christmas!!!)

I sallied forth anyway, as I still loved the images.

Next question: now what? I wanted to emphasize the central cellular structures with quilting, and then repeat that quilting in adjacent blank fabric. I would then paint the fabric, inspired by the brilliance of Linda and Laura Kemshall , wonderful British mother and daughter artists of the world-class level (picture me bowing, or curtseying, rather).

What color fabric to complement the printed photos? I auditioned silk dupioni in both a muted gold and an aqua:

The aqua won - it danced with the turquoise in the photos. I had created some fabric with designs from the cell photos, and tried that out between the blocks (second photo). Too busy. To retain a clean uncluttered look, I would not use any other fabrics, but would quilt channels into some of the open spaces to give the piece some texture, but still not compete with the quilting in the cell blocks (cell blocks, ha, that reminds me of Elvis in his Jailhouse Rock cells!).

Pieced and ready...

In the area above the cellular structures, I would create 'twin' cells -- stitched and painted. Thread = copper metallic. I oriented these blocks to keep the eye from going off the quilt, and nestled the lighter colored block between the two darker ones.

After layering with batting and backing, I quilted the first cell:

These micro cell structures are so stunning, so lyrical and exuberant! Stitching them was a delightful, rhapsodic experience, even if the colors were disappointing.

Since I wanted to approximate a duplication of these quilting designs, I decided to both scan and photocopy each quilted block. I would then trace the quilting lines on the printed copies, tape that tracing paper to the blank cloth, and stitch over the tracing paper.

Here is one of the copies I used for making a tracing:

Don't those structures remind you of the Pillsbury Dough Boy??? Or maybe the Michelin Man.

Here is one of the tracings, attached with painter's low-stick tape:

I stitched all three 'twin' cells, removing the tracing paper with my expensive Tweezerman tweezers (I used to have a unibrow). This was both tedious and scary, as I was afraid I would rip out my stitches.

Witness the birth of three new cells!

Next, I applied a thin coat of Jacquard Copper Metallic Paint. First, I used a dense foam roller to spread it out on a piece of plexiglass:

Here is a block, with the copper paint rollered on. Oh, No, Mr. Bill! The paint looked orange, not copper!

The slubs in the silk made interesting patterns, but...a seam on the left was jumping out at me!

Next, I painted the structures, leaving the liquid cytoplasm (yes, cytoplasm!) only roller-painted. Now the copper-cum-orange really came forth, much to my dismay. The centers were painted bronze.

Here are all three 'twin' cells after I had almost finished painting them:

As you can see, that piecing line along the bottom quarter is quite visible. Oh well, that reflects our history, right, thrifty use of fabric, piecing where necessary? It actually is not quite as visible in the finished work.

Oh, yeah, the finished piece! Here it is.

When framing art work, the lower border is often wider than the upper one. That is what I did here.

So, I sent in my entry. I do like the piece and I learned oodles from the process. My bathing muses did me well. And, right now, this is the best I could do for them. Next time, I'll do better.

It's all in the journey, right?


pcoxdesign said...

This is so very cool and I love that you documented the entire process! I have the Kemshell's book too and am very inspired by their work. I hope this means you will be doing some more in the same vein??!!! Gorgeous!

nklebs said...

Whoa Mom, that's pretty intense. Looks great!

p.s. Somehow I deleted my previous comment by mistrake... oops.

Vivien said...


norma said...

I loved reading your documentary. I then scrolled through your blog to see all the great things you've done in Photoshop. I've only done a little, but you have inspired me to do more.
As Tim Gunn would say,"Carry on!"

Karen said...

Brilliant! Can't wait to see it in person. It is so scary to paint after stitching, I think the effect is worth the stress.

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