Our Feb assignment in Elizabeth Barton‘s on-line Design Master Class course was to capture the sense of movement. It was intriguing to see how different students interpreted this challenge. That is one of the things I like the most about on-line learning-to be able to examine and study the work of others in the class.
I depict movement a lot in my work-like my Morning Breeze quilt. So I did not want to do what I know-I wanted to challenge myself.
I decided to work from a photo I took of 3 girls riding the mail ferry in the Casco Bay of Portland, Maine. I was struck by the unaffected demeanor of these girls. They were just so normal, neither geeky nor obsessed with beauty, just normal! They were having so much fun-one was reading a book but they were leaning into each other and laughing and just enjoying themselves. I won’t post the photo because they were not aware of my camera. It is one of the best photos I’ve taken.
I have never worked with the human form so this was a real challenge. I knew I could not freehand draw them with any success, so I used my light box and traced the photo onto tracing paper. Okay, that did not work. Two of the girls were wearing dark clothes so I could not pick up enough detail.
I decided to focus on the girl on the left-the photo had great detail for her. I wasn’t sure at this point whether I was going to try to use fused layers and color or go with a simple line drawing, so I put in as much detail as I could. When I took the tracing off of the light box I knew I was not going to try to use color-it was too complex and beyond my abilities.
I did another tracing, this time being very mindful to put in just enough line to give the impression without detail. This was by far the hardest part of the exercise-to edit myself and only put in necessary lines. It actually took me awhile and a lot of thought to edit it to this point. But now I liked it. And I love that sweeping line that goes from her right shoulder to her waist-an unexpected detail.
I chose to use white sateen, black Aurifil thread and 80/20 batting (cotton batting with 20% poly). I almost always use wool batting because I like the loft. But I see long armers using 2 layers of 80/20 in their competition quilts so I thought I would try it. In this case I actually did want a flat batt-can’t have her face all puffy!
And I made a not-so-smart choice to use black Aurifil on both the back and the front, and then bury my threads. Now think with me on this: we’ve got white sateen and black thread-uh, going to be hard to hide those threads in white fabric! Also, look how many starts and stops there are-I buried all those dog gone threads. I should have just quilted it with the batting and top and then pillow cased a backing so that I didn’t have to bury all those threads.
Since I was using that hand sewing needle so much and because I was working on white, of course I bled on my work! I think that’s taking “hand of the maker” a little bit too far.
I think it turned out well for my first attempt at working with the human form. I learned a lot from this exercise. I was unsure how to finish the piece so I’ll wait to show the completed piece-probably later in the week.