“Color Doesn’t Matter”
I finished my class with Lynne Pillus on “Color Doesn’t Matter” and I can’t wait to finish my piece! We learned to use value, not color to create a representational art quilt. I’m working from a beloved photo of a scene from a cherished family vacation in Bend, Oregon. We had rented a gorgeous, sprawling home on the Deschutes River and had The Best Time as a family.
Our oldest son is an avid outdoor adventurer and he actually listened to his Mother about protecting his skin from all that sun. He is known for his generously sized cowboy hat. I took this candid snap of his hat resting on the bedpost of his vacation bed. To me it holds a bucket full of wonderful memories. This was the photo I wanted to work from.
This is not meant to be a tutorial. I am merely sharing the highpoints of the process of rendering this precious photo into an art piece using non-representational colors. I have long wanted to learn how to do this and it takes a few times through the process for me to get this.
The process started here with an 8 x 10 print of the photo. Lynne helped us figure out how to separate and label the parts of the photo into 8 different values.
Because we were going to do raw edge applique, Lynne suggested that we use batik fabrics exclusively, since their tight weave would prevent raveled edges. We took all our fabrics and sorted them into the 8 values, then placed each in a baggie labeled with the appropriate value. Our choices within each value were to be random.
We took that transparency to a local print shop and had it enlarged to about 17″ x 22″.
We took a black base fabric and fused it with Steam-A-Seam 2 on a space just a wee bit larger than our enlarged copy. Then using white Saral transfer paper and freezer paper, we transferred those marking from the enlarged copy onto the black Steam-A-Seam-ed fabric. This gave us a sticky and marked surface to put individual pattern pieces upon.
We started this process by cutting out 8-10 piece “hunks” out of the freezer paper.
We used an X-Acto knife to cut out our hunks. And you do NOT want to do this on your good cutting mat-it will tear it up!
We extracted individual pieces from the “hunk” with the X-Acto….
And randomly chose a piece of fabric from the appropriate fabric pile. We ironed the freezer paper piece on to the fabric and…
Cut it out using a tiny 18mm rotary cutter. Again, not on my good mat!
That piece then found its home on the Steam-A-Seam-ed background and was finger pressed down. The Steam-A-Seam will hold it into place until you are happy with the results.. Then you do a complete and final press to secure the pieces permanently.
And here is the piece so far. I am loving the way it is turning out and I can’t wait to finish it! I have tried to work this way before and like many other techniques, it seems to take more than one class before I get it.
I’m linking to Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday as usual-please go see the links from other artists and see what they’re up to.
Beth Schillig says
Love this and cant wait to see more!
Thank you Beth! Me too!
Martha Ginn says
This looks like you’ve got the technique. Your photo is a great subject. Thanks for sharing the steps you are going through. I’ll look forward to the progress!
It’s one of those photos that pure dumb luck got me a good short. I hope to finish this one soon.
Loretta Armstrong says
Love this!!! xo
Thank you Loretta-me too! I’ll enjoy it even more when it is done.
Tecla Shaffer says
I love reading about your process, I can’t imagine how long it took you! You are inspiring! I’m looking forward to seeing the finished piece, hopefully we will see it on display at a show someday.
Hi Tecla-all that I show you I did within the two 6-hour classes! She does not have you do homework in between and I was definitely not the fastest student either. I will probably enter it into the Folsom show.
Sally Morris says
Love your choice of photos and the great composition. To have a hat full of memories makes it even more special. Your photo progression is so well done. Thanks for showing this as I have been mulling my next piece. Please keep us posted. As for the mat, I have a harder cutting mat used for scrapbooking. Never iiked it for my rotary cutter but I think it might work for this technique. Anyone with experience?
Thank you Sally. I do like to share “my” process-keep in mind I am the student here and it’s Lynne leading me through! The key with the rotary is that it MUST be the 18mm one. Any other size would be too big to maneuver tight corners. There is a bit of a learning curve but it is surprisingly easy to negotiate tight turns.
Roxane Lessa says
This is a such a magical process, and the piece is looking great!
Thanks Roxane-it is fun and I am emotionally attached to the photo.
Kathy Schmidt says
Great explanation of the technique. And is there a specific reason for using the small rotary cutter and Exacto knife instead of scissors? Love the idea of this, but I’ve never been a representational type so I’ll leave this to you! Great subject and looking good!
She uses the X-Acto because it really is easier-it remains on the table and you can maneuver into those nooks and crannies much easier than holding it while cutting with scissors. There is a bit of a learning curve with the rotary but it also cuts easier by keeping it laying on the mat rather than holding the project in one hand and using scissors.
Oh how I hear you about Xacto knives and cutting matts. I gather the knife and the tiny rotary cutter are also to help prevent frayed edges. Could you also use hand dyed fabrics done on a tightly woven cloth? That use of nonrepresentational colors, based on value is also a feature of Susan Carlson’s work. I can’t wait to see what kind of quilting you do on your hat.
You can use anything you want! The tightly woven fabrics just resist fraying, that’s all. And the X-Acto and rotary just make cutting easier, not sure they prevent fraying. It is so fun to be able to confidently use nonrepresentational color!
Diane Mitchell says
I enjoyed your artistic journey, Jenny, thanks for sharing! I’d not heard of Sarah transfer paper before, but it is pretty cool. I look forward to seeing more of this piece as it develops. Hugs, Diane
Diane Mitchell says
I meant Saral transfer paper. Stupid auto-correct. ?
Good to hear from you Diane! The Saral is great-large pieces of non-waxy transfer paper-I think it’s essentially chalk.
Peggy Martin says
Such a great photo and I can see that the quilt will be fabulous! Can’t wait to see the finished project. Thanks so much for sharing the steps – makes a lot of sense, but does look like a lot of work and planning. I can imagine that you might be auditioning a lot of different fabrics for each value – or are you just grabbing “whatever” in that value and seeing how it works out in a more “improv” fashion? However you are doing it, it is succeeding wonderfully!
THanks Peggy. All this was done in the classroom-2 6-hour classes, starting from our photo. No, I am not auditioning-that’s part of the process because it’s “not about color”. It’s so fun!
It’s a lovely photo to work from and your rendition is going to be fab! Thanks for sharing your process – lots of things I’ve never heard of there! (Steam-a-Seam for one – I think it might be something we call Bondaweb?)
Thank you Stephie. Lynne was careful to note that no other product will do. Bondaweb will not work-the product needs to be sticky enough to hold our pieces until we’re happy with the whole thing and we fuse it at the end.
Margaret Blank says
I’m intrigued…but it looks so “fussy” — the technique, that is, not your piece! LOL! What I’m trying to say is that even though I make miniatures (working with tiny bits) and have always been a ‘details’ person, I admire your persistence in sorting the trees (values) from the forest (overall picture) and then expressing that so well in the fabric selections and placement. Wow!
This is not what it appears to be. Really, I did all of that in class with zero homework. And I was the slow student. Most got theirs half done. Plus it’s the type of class where you are chatting as you work. If you were at home you would have tv or radio or music or books on tape. She walked us through and the labeling/determining of the values and mine took about an hour. I can walk into my studio, cut out an 8-piece hunk and work for 15 min and walk out. The whole idea is NOT to think about color at all, it’s about value and that is what makes the piece so fun. She’s at mechanicalquilt.com-look at her work. This is not tedious or exacting-it is in fact a very forgiving process.
Cathy Perlmutter says
So useful and inspiring! You made a gorgeous piece of art!
I almost feel guilty Cathy! Lynne truly made it easy and I know I can do this again with other work. Thank you!
Karen O' says
I took Lynne’s class a couple of years ago and LOVED it. In fact, today I am working on the dog portrait I did in her class. Yes, it has taken me this long, but not because of the technique. I’d love to take the class again if she is going to teach it somewhere relatively close to me.
I have not completed mine yet.I LOVE the technique but I hit a block and don’t know how to go forward yet. Lynne is great!
My block is this. I cannot remember if you made a quilt sandwich, as usual, or if you just use the black base fabric as your backing. The top is quite stiff and adding batting and backing is going to make a lot to sew through. Do you know? Thanks, Jenny
The whole image is built on a single layer of black fabric. I hit a roadblock on that piece and I’d love to finish it!