Feb Assignment-Design Master Class: “Maine Girl” Quilt
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.
Love it! Seems like an interesting challenge.
Challenge it is! It will be interesting to see how this impacts my work over a year.
Beautiful. I love that while the piece has a tremendous amount of complexity, it is finishing out so simple and clean. Your inspiration and selective cropping for this project is pure genius.
Thank you Schatzi. My joke to myself is that I have no idea how to keep it simple. It really is hard!
Roxane Lessa says
I really wanted to take this class, but didn’t have the time. I have both her books and have been studying them . I like your girl. Maybe you could have left some of those threads and let them blow in the wind behind her.
Oh Roxane I hope you get time in the future. I know, once you start teaching and entering shows all your time seems to go away. I like the idea of the threads in the wind!
Susan Lane says
Your girl is wonderful! Very good choice of detail to include. Nice clean image and you can certainly tell her hair is blowing in the wind. I appreciate that you continue to challenge yourself.
Thank you Susan. It is a little intimidating to go completely outside of my comfort area!
I can tell you’re learning from this class just from the process you used to narrow your subject from the original photo. Many thanks for all the process shots. They help me tremendously. How is Elizabeth Barton as a teacher? I’m considering her Academy of Quilting class on working in a series. I realize that one is much more canned than the intensive, personalized master class you’re taking.
I’m glad you enjoyed it Joanna. Yes, I am enjoying Elizabeth’s class. Ironically enough I feel more compelled to do my monthly assignments for my on-line class than I did with my real life group. Go figure. I would not assume a large class is less effective-I was in a huge on-line class with Carla Barrett and learned so much from her and her other students. It is wonderful to receive individual critiques though-a real luxury!
Margaret Blank says
Great work, Jenny! You’ve captured her expression and the movement of the breeze on the water, blowing her hair. I applaud your courage going for the human form, too. :-)
Thank you Margaret! Stretching myself is exactly what I need to be doing.