Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Inspired By Elvis--The Making of Memories, Part 4

This is the last installment of 'The Making of Memories.’

At last I was ready for the 'collage' part of this fiber-collage quilt!  It is at this stage when the studio REALLY gets messy!  I pull out LOTS of fabrics to audition...the greater the variety of fabric that is used in the piece, the better it looks. I used cottons and silks, velvets and tulles, even bits of old men's ties!  That is OLD TIES....not ties from old men (although that might also apply!

To start, I taped together enough paper to create a pattern large enough for the final size.  Then I LOOSELY drew in where the major components will be located, giving me a general road map to guide me.  Next, I covered this paper with a large piece of septic paper (it is like non-woven interfacing, on a roll and purchased from the home improvement store where septic lines are common in the area).  The septic paper is see-through and provides a lightweight but stable base.    I used 007 Bonding Agent here and there to keep things from shifting too much...shakes on like salt, it turns into a glue when heat from the iron is applied.  I added a large blue piece of fabric, then I began covering it with strips to create the sky..."twilight trimmed in purple haze", according to the song lyrics.

I tore a few strips from the silk drapes I had removed (and deconstructed) from MY living room here at my home (washed, of course!) to include in the sunset-reflecting sky.  The glittery purple tulle was leftover from the mother-of-the-groom dress I had made for my son's wedding in 2013.  Various blue fabrics from my stash were cut into odd/elongated shapes and strategically placed to provide the look I wanted.

Next I began pulling out the green fabrics, placing them here and there to determine where the values should go.  I planned to mix the various greens together somewhat but, overall, I wanted the darker ones under trees and lighter ones in the foreground.

After cutting the fabrics into small bits, I began placing them in the lawn area, mixing the colors in a painterly way to give the impression of depth, contour and distance (I hoped!).  I cut a wishbone-shaped piece of black fabric for a portion of the circular driveway.  I temporarily added the wall every now and then to be sure I was bringing the lawn far enough forward.

In the photo below, you can see where the top edge of the stone wall has not yet been cut into the jagged points that make up the top of the wall at Graceland.  I have created areas of color in the lawn and yet, overall, it is green.

I needed some trees for the background...behind tiny Graceland...and the scale of those trees needed to be smaller because of the distance they represent.  I layered some wash-away stabilizer with brown tulle, then added TINY bits of fabric to represent the foliage.  Pieces of ribbon were used for the tree trunks and then I covered the assemblage with green tulle.   I stitched free-motion all over this tiny treeline, then put it in a sink of water to dissolve the stabilizer.

The tiny treeline was trimmed, then placed at the horizon and behind the house.  This really helped to tie the sky and land together and develop and sense of place.  I began cutting little cone-shaped evergreens out of green velvet and placed them on the distant lawn near the house.

I began to cut and place various black fabrics on the driveway. 

I had hoped to use the white yarn to represent the curb along the asphalt driveway, but found it more effective to cut white fabric instead,

I developed the foreground by adding tiny bits of green fabrics and wool fibers, then cut clumps of grass from a print fabric and added them to give definition to this strip of wilderness along side the highway. As a bit of whimsy, I included the eyes of Elvis in this wild grass...I wanted to conceal them and yet, make them visible and recognizable at the same time.

I used the tips of small artificial ferns to represent the boxwood bushes that flanked the driveway in the gravel beds.

 I cut diamond shapes from the stone fabric and alternated them with leftover brick portions to represent the fence on the north (left) side of the lawn, then placed brown tulle over this area to place it deeper in shadow. 

At this point, it was time to add the big trees on the lawn.  Using photos for my placement guide, I cut black/brown/gray fabrics and made and placed the tree trunks.

I placed blobs of a dark tulle at the location of the treetops, then began adding various ribbons, sequins and musical notes, etc before adding the fabric leaves. 

I also placed long strips of navy tulle on the lawn at the base of each tree to provide shadows.

At this point, I began hiding faces in the lawn, as well as a guitar.  I had cut these from a commercial Elvis-themed fabric, which I over-dyed brown so they would blend as opposed to glow! 

I cut fabric pieces that were smaller still to use for the leaves.  The colors were sprinkled/placed to give the impression of late summer/early autumn.  I used golden leaves for the smaller tree at the foreground to depict song lyrics.

Additional sparkly things were added...palm trees, flowers, boots, etc, so they could be seen and discovered.

Various fibers...leaves cut from an antique cuff, silk flower leaves, holey ribbon, etc...were added to blend or accentuate areas as needed.  Then I began adding the people.

Lastly, I covered the whole thing with a large piece of black tulle and pinned it in place.

You might be wondering HOW IN THE WORLD am I going to stitch this...a stiff breeze would ruin it all!  Well, I devised a method when working on a former quilt that worked quite well.  You may have noticed that during assembly, I was working on one of those cardboard cutting mats that folds up for storage.  This stiff cardboard also provides a method to transport this piece to the longarm.

BUT...IT MUST REMAIN FLAT!  Unlike a regular quilt top, this cannot roll or hang down until it is quilted. To provide some extra hands to hold it for me as I stitch, I looked to the garage for these roller stands that are used to hold lumber for woodworking.  I CAREFULLY moved the cardboard from the table to the longarm, being very careful NOT to let the cardboard fold itself.  I propped it on the rails and the roller stands.  

The backing and batting had been loaded on the longarm before I added this collaged top.  That is the batting you see hanging down in the picture below.

I needed to partially REMOVE the cardboard and gently lay the upper portion of the piece onto the batting for stitching...but as the cardboard came out, it STILL had to be supported so it wouldn't flip up the remaining collage!  For that task, I pulled out a drawer and placed a pillow on it to support the cardboard until I had stitched enough of this quilt to call it stable.

Below, you can see that I had ALMOST stitched to the bottom.  The cardboard was now ready to be removed, as the bottom of the collage was now resting on the batting and so, was supported.  This method does make for some awkward posture while stitching!  I had to move from one side of the cardboard to the other by walking around the table!  But at that point, I was just doing random stitching with invisible thread to stabilize the piece.  Once the cardboard was removed and the piece was stable THEN I could use various colors and stitch grass and leaves and sky and all the details that enhance as well as construct this piece.

After quilting, MEMORIES was trimmed up to make it square and the correct size.  I applied a black binding to the back of the quilt, then pressed it to the front and sewed it into place.

by Patricia Smith

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...

Free Hit Counter