Thursday, February 02, 2006

Self-Portrait Journal Quilt

I love that feeling of freedom once a project is completed, allowing me to move on (or return) to something else. That is what faced me this morning - freedom and renewed energy - and what better way to embrace it than to get back to the beading on my journal quilt? If I could complete that today, then I could clear the ping pong table to lay out that WFW quilt to tie. I still need to tack down the binding but otherwise, "Self-Portrait: The Crank" is done. Click on the picture for a larger view.

I can't help but notice how many artists are drawn to doing self-portraits. This has never tempted me, however, probably because I’ve never done much drawing and what I do is a far cry from portraiture. Even though quilters have gotten into the act through applique, painting on fabric, and thread painting, I never saw it as something I cared to do with my quilting. I was amused, though, upon seeing the results of a guild challenge to make a self-portrait of oneself as an animal. Now maybe I could do something like THAT, I thought.

November was a tough month for me. I have a tendency to be a bit of a crank anyway, but I'd found myself crankier than usual with events in November pushing me over the edge. That's when it came to me - I needed to make a self-portrait representing myself as a hand crank! I'd been saving some foil candy wrappers to work into a quilt, so I used those for the metal part of my crank. I toned them down by dabbing them with thinned black acrylic paint, then rubbing the excess off. They were wrapped around wool batting to maintain a 3-dimensional effect and held in place with netting sewn over the top. I had second thoughts about how well that batting could hold up to the foil, that maybe I should have used a denser filling, but the wool is amazingly resilient. The handle is black satin with a bit of wool batting under it as well. I free-motion zigzagged the edges of the satin and netting with Sulky twist rayon thread.

The background Idaho Beauty block was pieced using Judy Mathieson's fold-back freezer paper foundation method. The fabric represents my growth from traditional to contemporary quilting and how I incorporate both in my work. The darker fabric is a reproduction that I over-dyed and is paired with a commercial marbled fabric. See Demons Under Control for more about the fabric and the piecing process. The quilting is in the ditch with mono-filament thread (almost my trademark) and the piece is topped off with beading. The binding is fabric used in an experiment with Versatex fabric paint.

I think this makes a fitting portrayal of me. It incorporates not only my personality (cranky, fussy), but my quilting life past and present (traditional with a fondness for reproductions, my move into hand-dyeing and marbling, and contemporary work including machine quilting, hand beading, fabric paints and non-traditional materials), along with my favorite color and my signature block. Yup, I think I got it all in there.

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