Saturday, March 22, 2014

Asilomar Robins Continue

We left off with the water in the bird bath. I made two versions and liked the second one with improvisationally pieced strips better.
Over the last week (I work VERY slowly) I've gone on to add the front edge of the bird bath and am now working on the background.The background is essentially all green with light coming from the top and left. Choosing what goes where is very intimidating for a novice like me, especially since the background is supposed to be sort of natural looking. I think this might be easier if the robins and bird bath in the foreground were pulled out and the background was completely different. That is what I did with my previous effort at this type of work (see eggplant).

I don't have the world's largest stash to work with, so I started by pinning little scraps up in places where I thought they might go.
Swatches pinned up to develop the shading.
Although this method is not perfect, it was a good way to get a feel for the shading without cutting entire pieces. In some cases I only have small scraps to work with and a mistake (i.e. cutting a piece and then deciding that the fabric would be better used for a different piece) would be bad. This was also good because I only get to work in short spurts (maybe an hour before bed). Pinning up the scraps was pretty quick and now I have a guide for what to do next.

I also realized that some of the pieces in my original drawing needed to be subdivided. In some cases, I've done that somewhat improvisationally by just folding the template back and sewing on another piece.

Background units made, but not fully assembled

Almost every piece has been 'fussy cut' to try to put light next to light and dark next to dark in order to reduce the appearance of the seams. I've made most of the units, but I haven't sewn them together. I'm still cogitating on some of the choices and can still make some changes pretty easily.

Now that I'm getting close to finishing I'm anxious to see how it comes out and to quilt it. 

All the Best,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Asilomar Robins

This spring I finally got to attend Empty Spools at Asilomar in Pacific Grove California. Fabulous quilting teachers and classes aside -- what a cool place!

I signed up for a class with Ruth Powers. She does really beautiful 'picture' quilts. You start with a image -- maybe a photograph -- and turn it into a piece-able design. This is definitely NOT for making bed quilts or even lap quilts. This is ART. I have taken a class like this before but there is a lot to learn -- especially about colors, how to break the image up to get the right effect, and tricks to getting it put together.

Some of my fellow students were more experienced, and more ambitious. I chose to make something about 18x24", based on this picture of Robins at the birdbath outside my window. The picture is very fuzzy because it is blown up from a tiny piece of a bigger photo.

Although this is clearly a parent and baby robin, and I love the strong directional lighting, the curve of the birdbath and the reflection, when you get down to actually tracing lines, the picture leaves a lot to the imagination. I went to the week long class armed with a full size enlargement of the photo, and a bunch of robin pictures off the web to use for reference. I also went with a suitcase full of fabric, freezer paper and lots of other tools (rulers, colored pencils, sharpie markers, scissors, etc).

 The first major accomplishment, which took me nearly 2 days, was to create a tracing paper pattern and a freezer paper drawing (reversed) that gets cut up to make the templates for cutting fabrics and sewing everything together.
Freezer paper template -- marked, and numbered.
I took a picture, with my phone, of the freezer paper template, before cutting into it, thinking that it would be a nice reminder of the steps and that I would post the picture here. Thank goodness I did. It also proved VERY useful as a reference to figure out where things came from and where they needed to go back to.

By the end of the week I had the birds basically done. This is not exactly a speed piecing kind of project, and I had to redo one whole section because I didn't like how the colors looked.
End of class picture from Ruth showing finished birds and auditioning birdbath fabrics.
Since coming home, I've been (very slowly) working on the birdbath and the reflection.

Work in progress on the design wall at home.
Although I got some great Marcia Derse fabric for the water (sweet corn swirl), I realized that I didn't have what I needed for the reddish bird reflections. After ordering several possibilities from eQuilter, I found one that is not perfect but seems OK (front right below). In the process, I have nearly used up my fat quarter of 'sweet corn swirl' and turned several other nice pieces of fabric into swiss cheese.
Fabrics for the birdbath water (and rejects)

I have made the water section twice -- once using the original design, and second time using more improvisational piecing to make strips that I sewed together to make a small piece of 'fabric' that I then used to cut out the whole section.
First water version, original pieced design

Second water version, improvisationally pieced

You be the judge, but I'm liking the second one. Next steps  will be to move on to the edge of the bird bath and then the background. I may do some more improvisational 'fabric' construction for parts of the background.

All the best,