Saturday, September 23, 2017

From A to Z on Howard's Portrait Quilt.

I sketch a lot and take a ridiculous amount of fairly bad photographs.  Every now and then one of those sketches or photos really grabs me, and want to make a quilt based on it.  This picture of my husband  was one of those.  The photo appealed to me, not just because of the subject, but because of the huge variation in values from pure white to pitch black.
The quilt top is pieced, but obviously not finished being quilted or bound
I tried enlarging the photo freehand onto butcher paper, but just couldn't get the proportions right, so I ended up enlarging the photo with a free, online poster-maker website called Rasterbator.  It is easy, and produces a very sharp image on multiple sheets of paper, that are numbered, making reassembling the sheets into the poster-sized image easy.

I experimented with a different technique for constructing this quilt.  I used silk organza as a base.  I mounted the enlarged Rasterbator photo on a piece of foam insulation and layered silk organza over the photo so I could build the quilt pieces on the organza with bits of glue.  The organza is simi-transparent, so I could see the areas of light and dark through it as I added the fabric.
It was a mild success.   The glue soaked through the organza and stuck to the paper underneath, which made removing the piece from the board to quilt it a bit of a mess.  I guess I should have put a piece of clear plastic shower curtain between the organza and the paper to better protect the paper, but I didn't.

I don't really like to build my quilts on a backing, because it means there is one more layer of fabric that can shift around when I quilt everything.  I am manic about keeping everything FLAT.  The more layers, the more likely something will shift.  To help reduce the possibility of movement, I used spray basting to adhere the quilt top to the batting and then hand basted around the major image areas to keep things as flat as possible.  There are a few puckery spots on this one, but nothing that catches my eye, unless I go looking for them.

Black tulle laid over gray and black areas of the quilt.
With raw-edged applique there are always bits of loose threads, which normally I like, but on a portrait, can be distracting.  So as a final layer, I overlaid the entire piece with black tulle.  the glasses frames are layered on top, rather than as reverse-applique, which is what I usually do with skinny little pieces.  I was worried they might come loose or get too tattered, so tulle helped secure them. Unfortunately, the tulle dulled the whites too much, so I cut away the black tulle from the stark white of the beard, nose and hat.

Then, I densely quilted the piece.  I always anguish over quilting on portraits, because the quilting definitely can enhance or detract from the image.  I basically try to follow the contours of the face, but when deep shadows are involved, it creates a bit of consternation.

Once I get the quilting done, I just can barely face doing the squaring up, binding, hanging sleeve and label.  Wish I had the money to hire someone to do those fiddley bits for me!

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