Sunday, July 22, 2018

Inspired By Elvis--The Making of Memories, Part 3

Even in the concept phase, I knew I would need some models to use so I could create the Elvis 'fans' as realistically as possible.  One day while having lunch with friends at McAlister's Deli, I asked them to pose for some photos.  A nice young man who was working there saw us posing for group pictures and offered to take the pictures for me so I could be in them. I politely declined, explaining that I needed backsides only.  I'm not sure *what* he was thinking as he walked away with that odd look on his face!

This photo below was chosen because it depicted the song lyrics about holding hands.  I took liberties, giving Jeanie long pants.

Below, you can see my fabric version of Jeanie and Jenny.  They are the ones holding hands in the foreground.

To make my people, I fused a skin-colored fabric to a piece of freezer paper which I had cut to 8 1/2" x 11".  Then I ran it through my printer, to print my scanned figures onto the fabric.  Alternately, I could have traced them using a light box, but this was quicker and easier.  

That paragraph makes it sound so easy.  The truly HARD part of this was FINDING a skin colored fabric!  My friend Jeanie, pictured above, gave me several options to consider.  In the end, I used an off-white that I already had in my stash as opposed to the fleshier colors which just read as too pink.

The figures were made paper doll style...I cut out whole figures as opposed to individual body parts that would have to be assembled.  

While I couldn't remember exactly what Elvis was wearing the day I saw him, I feel like it was casual wear.  I selected the jacket in the image below to depict on MY tiny Elvis.

I was pretty sure E had been wearing sunglasses the day I saw him, but I struggled with creating those tiny frames!  Taking artistic license, I decided to forego the shades.

I used two of the figures from the image below.  I liked the way Jenny (the blonde) was turning part way around, and her hand was in a nice position to be holding a bouquet of flowers, again, to depict song lyrics.  Yes, I had already used Jenny once already, but a quick change of clothes and who would be the wiser!  I gave her a blue shirt and jeans and a red bouquet.
I also used Jane (wearing the striped shirt, with short hair).  But she was looking too much like a boy in the jeans and shirt I gave her, so I gave Tiny Jane some longer hair!

Tiny Elvis' tiny shirt was a bear to construct!  I wanted the collar to stand up a bit, as was his style, but not too much since he was just chilling at home.  Making it peek out from under the jacket took some effort!

I wanted a figure in a dress, too, because I feel like in 1975, at least ONE of the fans would have been wearing a dress!  I searched through several years of my photo files, looking for someone wearing a dress.  Who would have thought that would be so hard to find!  But I did finally hit pay dirt when I looked through the photos I took at my daughter's friend's wedding.  The groom's sister provided just the right pose!  I did take liberties with her dress, though, changing the green to pink and eliminating the strapless feature.

My tiny fabric figures were temporarily pressed to my Teflon sheet and details were added with color pencils and paint to make them more realistic.

After the background was laid out, the figures were added at last.  I arranged the fans as though they were gathering as I watched...standing back respectfully but hurrying to get inside the gates.

Also, notice, between the front fence and the road, there is a shrub bed on each side of the driveway, as well as a grassy right of way along the roadside.  The whole frontage was not always paved with concrete, as it is today.

This old photo (found online--sorry, I cannot give credit) shows what the front of the property used to look like.  The concrete curbing along the driveway had recessed lights to illuminate the drive.

Also notice, the gates and ironwork are painted white in this old photo.  In my mind, I also 'saw' the ironwork as white, but as I looked through the many online photos of Graceland, I found versions painted with green as well as black accents.  I chose to keep mine white.

In my landscape, I used tiny leaves from artificial ferns to represent the boxwoods beside the entry.  The grassy frontage will be discussed in the next post (tease!).

And just a little bit about the guard house...
Behind the brick fence on the right of the entry is a small guardhouse.  Although most of it wouldn't show, I felt the windows would have been reflecting the setting sun through the ironwork. To make this window, I again turned to the silver lame', but this time, I overlaid it with a spider-wed embossed organza.  Not a likely choice, but it provided just the effect I wanted.

The trim and roof was added to the building much as before (with Graceland).  Only the upper portion of the building was constructed this time, however, as I KNEW it would be hidden behind the wall.

In the next installment, I will discuss how the bulk of the landscape was created and assembled...not to be missed! ;)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Inspired By Elvis-The Making of Memories, Part 2

To get a good idea of how I wanted to represent the house, I drove by Graceland numerous times, taking videos and photos. I also examined the thousands of images of Graceland online.  Finally, I selected my angle and began selecting fabrics.

For the home’s stonework, I used a golden mottled fabric similar to one of the fabrics I had used in the stone wall.  I used a white-on-white print for the woodwork areas.  I built the house in layers, stone first, then putting the woodwork behind it, just as it would be if you were standing there looking at the home in person.

Selecting fabric for the west-facing windows was tricky.  I knew I wanted them to appear as though they were reflecting the setting sun, as they were in my memory.  I auditioned several choices but ultimately decided on three and layered them for the effect I desired. 

The SILVER lame’ was put on the bottom layer, then covered with a glittery gold organza and topped with a purple tulle flecked with gold.  This top layer helps to emphasize the diamond grid on the REAL windows of Graceland.

Now it was time to put on a roof!  I used a darker mottled fabric from the stone collection, using a slightly less-dark area for the portico roof.

There is an area of siding (rather than stone) under that porch, so I depicted that with a very light version of the mottled stone fabric (I had purchased a piece of this fabric in every "stone" color!).

The facade of the porch was also layered, using two different white fabrics, to create dimension on the woodwork trim and columns.

I wasn't exactly sure HOW MUCH of the porch flooring would ultimately show, but I added it in there, just in case.  Turns out, NONE of it shows!
There is a little 'balcony' ironwork over the upstairs window on the porch, so I added some dark tulle there.

The working title of this piece was 'Tiny Graceland' for obvious reasons!  Once positioned on my cutting mat, you can see how tiny this home really is.  Those three-layer windows are only a quarter of an inch!  But everything the tiny dentil molding and round window/vent on the porch facade, which I added using a pencil.  I also used pencil to shade those two-layer columns to reinforce the 3-D effect.

There are several additions...annexes...on the main house and those were added, too.

I cut TINY shutters from some dark green fabric and carefully fused them into place.
I used pencil to emphasize corners and shadows...even the lattices against the far left annex!  I used fabric marker to add gutters and downspouts.

I applied an extremely diluted wash of grey paint to create a diagonal shadow on the upper part of the porch wall, then used some irridesent white paint on the trim and columns to emphasize the reflecting sunshine.  I really wanted this tiny Graceland to look in fabric the way it looked in my head! 

This is the final Tiny Graceland, temporarily fused to my Teflon sheet and draped over my iPad to give a sense of scale.  Those squares on the white cutting mat are one inch squares. 

NEXT TIME, I will show you how I made Tiny Elvis and his fans..and more! 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Inspired by Elvis—The Making of Memories, Part 1

A quilt of mine which depicts my memory of seeing Elvis signing autographs is included in the book INSPIRED BY ELVIS by Donna Desoto, which came out in late June, 2018.  I used a fiber-collage method to create this quilt. Basically, I combined various fabrics and fiber elements into a pleasing arrangement, then covered the whole thing with black tulle and stitched/quilted it to hold things in place.  In addition to fibers, I also added other bits of ephemera as needed to convey the image I saw in my mind. Some elements of the quilt were assembled separately, using the fusible appliqué method, before being placed on the foundation.  Today I will talk about some of those elements.

To make the brick walls, I put fusible web onto the back of a commercial brick-printed fabric, then cut it into strips, keeping a row of mortar on the bottom of each strip.  

I overlapped the strips to make smaller-scale bricks, fusing them row by row as I built the walls on my Teflon sheet. 

I added ‘mortar’ by using paint to make some strips appear to be made of the smaller ends of the bricks.

By putting my drawing under the 
Teflon sheet, I could fuse the bricks as I went, building the wall.

To make the stone inserts, I cut tiny pieces of a mottled grey fabric

I built the columns the same way, except that I had to angle the rows on the column sides to give the appearance of dimension. The same stone-colored fabric was used for the caps. I used a tiny wash of paint to give shadows to help with the 3-D effect.

For the stone wall, I cut 2x2" chunks from a variety of mottled fabrics and put fusible web on the backs.  

I cut these chunks into smaller stone-shaped pieces and fused them, mosaic-style, onto a gray background fabric.

 More brick strips were overlapped, as well as slashed and curved, to form the circular brick inset in the wall.  Then the top edge was cut to form the spikey surface.

I drew the ironwork (fence and gate) onto wash-away stabilizer which I then sandwiched between two layers of white tulle. 

. I stitched the design using 2 strands of white thread, being careful to cross over previous lines so the whole thing would be connected once the stabilizer (paper) was gone.

 When the stitching was completed, I removed as much of the stabilizer as I could, then put this sandwich into a sink of water.

The iron fence piece soaking in water.  I used gray thread in the bobbin and used green tulle for this section, because it was farther away from the vantage point and would have green lawn and trees behind it.

Once the stabilizer was rinsed away, all that remained was the stitched design on the tulle...the fence and gate!  I pressed them with a warm iron to dry each one and block them into the desired shape.

I put the iron pieces in place next to the masonry pieces on my design plan.

NEXT TIME, I will show how I made tiny Graceland...

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Inspired By Elvis

On June 28, 2018, a new art quilt book celebrating Elvis will be made available for purchase and one of MY QUILTS is in that book!  Here is the book, INSPIRED BY ELVIS, if you are interested.

In 2016, the author, Donna Desoto, put out a call for entries.  Participating artists were encouraged to choose a song or other theme having to do with Elvis.  When I read the lyrics to the song MEMORIES, I knew that would be my choice!

The  reason?

One evening in 1975, I was driving home from work and passing by Graceland, as I did twice each day, when I was surprised to find the gates open and Elvis himself signing autographs for a small group of fans.  This was the one and only time I ever saw him in real life.  I wanted to represent that memory with my quilt.

MEMORIES by Patricia Smith   36" x 36"

I am fortunate that MY QUILT will be exhibited at the INTERNATIONAL QUILT FESTIVAL in Houston this fall, 2018!

The song I chose, MEMORIES, speaks of 'holding hands and red bouquets', which are depicted by the Elvis fans  My 'twilight sky' is 'trimmed with purple haze' while 'golden autumn leaves' fall to the ground.  The 'laughing eyes' of Elvis can be found in the grass in the foreground (bottom right).

The golden silk fabric in the sky represents the silk drapes that hang in the living room at Graceland, where Elvis entertained family and friends.  The digital camouflage fabric in the distant lawn (between trees) represents his service in the Army.  His face can be found on two areas of the lawn as can a guitar.  To represent his Western movies, there are cowboy hats and boots sparkling in the treetops.  There are palm trees and flowers to represent his beach movies.  Glittered felt musical notes remind us of his gift.  There are three Blackjack hands...and Ace and a Queen...scattered around the quilt to remind us of the decades he spent performing as a showman in Vegas. 

And last but not least, the back of the quilt is covered with money, to represent the income Elvis continues to provide for his family long after he has passed.

The working title of this quilt was ‘TINY GRACELAND’ because this house is TINY!  The west-facing windows are made with three layers of fabric...a silver lame’, a gold glittery organza and a purple-gold give the impression of reflecting a setting sun as well as duplicate the diamond grid pattern of the windows at Graceland.  

The 'laughing eyes' of Elvis peer out from the grass, made of various fibers and fabrics.

Back in 1975, the road was still a highway and there was a grassy area between the fence and road...unlike today's concrete pads.

The golden silk fabric used to depict clouds reflecting the setting sun was actually torn from the drapes at my own home!

Tiny Elvis and his fans were made paper doll style...creating the overall form in fabric, then making clothing from separate fabric pieces.  I asked my friends to pose for me one day in a restaurant to provide models for the fans.

The fans depict the song lyrics,' holding hands' and 'red bouquets'.

'Golden autumn leaves' are scattered on the ground behind Elvis.

 Elvis continues to provide.

Perhaps you remember the song?


Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine

Quiet thought come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet memories,
Sweet memories

Of holding hands and red bouquets
And twilight trimmed in purple haze
And laughing eyes and simple ways
And quiet nights and gentle days with you

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine,
Memories, memories, sweet memories

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Bouncy Seat

 I have, in my possession, a very old bouncy seat from the 1950's.  My mother used it for her three children, allowing her babies to learn to sit up and build muscles and coordination.  When the babies grew out of it, the bouncy seat was put into the attic, where it stayed for decades.

My older sister was the first to have a baby, so in the seventies she got the bouncy seat out of mother's attic and tried to clean it up.  The plastic seat was cracked and crumbling, and the paint on the metal frame was peeling.  So my sister repainted the frame and made a new vinyl seat, using the old seat as a pattern.  When I had my babies, I was given the bouncy seat to use and, just like before, when the babies grew out of it, the bouncy seat went back into the attic.

Fast forward to present time.  I pulled the bouncy seat out of the attic to use with my new grandbaby.  When I tried to remove the seat for cleaning, the strong snaps pulled holes in the old vinyl!  Great...

So, I bought new vinyl (marine vinyl from Joann's) and traced the seat pieces onto it.  After cutting, the pieces were bound and joined with purchased bias binding.

Generally, I opened out one edge of the double-fold binding and straight stitched it to the edge of the vinyl piece, sewing right in the first fold from the edge.  Then, I folded over the binding and used a zigzag stitch to secure it.  

I started with the seat back.  I bound the lower edge of the back half-piece as described above.  To join this to the main/inside back piece, I straight stitched the binding around the whole (main/inside) seat back, then folded it over in preparation to zigzag, but first, I put the half-back piece in place before zigzagging the binding down.

Instead of trying to pin this vinyl, I held the pieces with hair clips.

I used the iron to smooth out the curves...touching the binding, NOT the vinyl, with the iron.

I removed the clips as I approached them.

I kept the zigzagging on this piece closer to the outside edge...I was using WIDER binding than on the original and I had NOT cut the pattern piece any larger, so didn't want to risk making the piece too small to fit over the frame.

Hooray!  The back piece easily slipped over the frame.  

So I continued.
Determined that the snaps would NOT pull out again, I used Wonder Under to affix some canvas to the back of the vinyl in the areas where the snaps would be installed.

After fusing the various areas, it occurred to me that I could have just fused the whole would be stronger and look better!  Oh well......

I had purchased two packages of the extra wide bias binding...each was 3 yards.  I had experimented with application methods, using about 6-8 inches.  Well, as luck would have it, when I was ready to bind the last piece, my last strip of binding was about 6-8 inches short!  Grrrrr.....  

However, there was a short piece left from the first package that was about this same length.

I had no inches to spare! 

 I had to join the binding pieces with a straight seam (as opposed to using a mitered seam, which reduces bulk).  As I was pressing the new joint seam open, it occurred to me that I might be able to stretch this length of binding to get the desired length.  Yes, it would get narrower as it got longer but it was wider than I really needed, so I ironed and stretched the binding before applying it to the vinyl seat piece.

As you can see, after stretching and stitching, I ended up with a tiny bit to spare!

Once again, the hair clips were handy for holding the pieces together so I could zigzag them to secure.

Once the tray/saddle section was zigzagged to the rest of the seat, the sewing was complete.

Now it was time to install the snaps.

I used a leather punch to create a small hole where each snap would be installed.

Then a hammer and scrap wood on the workbench allowed me to install all 10 sets of heavy duty snaps.

And Voilà!  The bouncy seat is good as new!

Ready for the next generation of babies.

I really gave this no thought; I just copied what was there. But if I was starting over, there are a few things I would do differently.  I might line the various pieces, since the back of the vinyl does show.

Also. The tray was a squarish/rectangle shape; I would round this a bit to be more like the shape of the frame.

But all in all, the project was successful and took only one day of sewing...I did cut it out one day last week.

And now I have a cute bouncy seat awaiting the next visit of that baby...

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