Once I have a design in mind, all sorts of questions arise, usually starting with what size will the piece be, what shape (square, rectangular, odd) and in what orientation (landscape or portrait). When starting from a photo, my brain gets stuck on the dimensions of the photo, unless I've played around with cropping it. And often I can't see beyond the image on the screen to envision the quilt finished any way but borderless. So while I studied my photos and chose a few to work with, I sensed panic about deciding the proper size to make this so that it proportionally worked nicely with that candle and then whether to face or bind it. I also mulled what technique to use, generally the second question that arises. And what about batting? How much texture might I want as I quilted around trees and extended branch lines? Would outlined branches puff up while the narrow ones represented by a single line of stitching sink into the surface? These are the kinds of questions that can immobilize me.
And then I realize the answer was right under my nose - or rather on the wall of the vary room where I sat studying photos on the computer. The photo above is of a pair of highly stitched images of The Palouse in southeastern Washington; instead of batting, I used an ECO-FI felt (which gives some but not a great deal of texture) and then attached the finished design to an interfaced fabric mount. Goodness - size, shape, "batting" and finishing questions all answered at once! I could move on.
I've decided to go with the photo looking up through the branches, although I printed out a second one for later use. I reduced both photos to 2 color (merely changing to black and white does not give you a black and white image, but one with too many values of grey for my needs). To save ink, I printed them as drafts - I just need some kind of road map. I quickly realized that the original photo had a major branch running nearly up the center which was very distracting (see first photo). I played around in my photo-manipulation program until I had it moved farther off-center, as you can see above.
Then I spent some time with the print-out, tracing around major branches and thinking about which of the smaller ones would just be lines of stitching. Getting familiar with the design with the idea that I will not necessarily use this as a pattern but as a guide. I'm considering free-cutting some of the shapes - I've done that before with success.
Inevitably, one must stop tweaking the design and start auditioning fabrics. The brown piece at the top is the felt and I'm still deciding about which orangish fabric to use. I thought using a solid black for the trees was a no brainer, but it seemed too stark and things started leaning a bit Halloweenish. As I pulled possibilities for the border mount, it became clear that I needed a black that wasn't so black and found a hand-dyed that I think will give me the subtle difference I was looking for. By the way, most of the border fabrics in this picture have now been rejected for half a dozen better options! The final decision will have to wait until the center is done and ready to attach. Oh, and I can't really decide between the two oranges so I have cut a piece of each and will work them up simultaneously. Hey - I always need new pieces for the local exhibits - it will be time well spent and give me options.