Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May Journal Quilt

Of the dozens of pictures I've taken around the property this spring, one of a stump (dead for who knows how long) with new growth sprouting up around it seemed perfect to interpret this month's calendar theme, "Strength" and quotation from Hal Borland: "If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees." Right up my alley, wouldn't you say?

The technique I experimented with, painted fusible web, is one I briefly tried a few years ago on a very small sample, and decided I didn't care for it, nor understand why it was all the rage among the art quilters. But I'd recently run across an article about it that made me want to give it another try, this time to create this stump. I had odd bits of WonderUnder fusible web left over from preparing the angel applique, so I'd painted them with acrylic paints a week or so ago so they'd have plenty of time to dry (see this post). I streaked on brown and an off-white and also mixed the two so there were at least three values of brown to work with.

Some pieces I could use pretty much as they were, others I shaped to form the jagged top of the stump and the curves along the bottom. I was guided by a full size printout of my original photo. Having that photo out slowed me down initially. My weakness is going for too literal of a translation when working from a picture, and I soon found myself spending too much time trying to find one or two colors beyond the green to emulate the mountain and sky. Finally I came to my senses, remembered that the stump was the focus of this design and I didn't need to clutter it up with a chopped up background. Of the greens, I opted for one a bit toned down and set aside the dusty blue I'd been considering for the sky to use later as the frame.

My most recent directions, plus another set I found in an older Quilting Arts Magazine suggested layering. One indicated leaving the paper backing on, the other not. I decided to apply each piece one at a time with the paper on. As I removed the paper and added more pieces, I protected the iron with a Teflon applique sheet. The same problem cropped us as I remembered from my first trial - the fusible would get shiny once the paper was removed and heat was applied again. But I kept building up the stump, with the thicker painted pieces a little less shiny. (If anyone knows the secret to avoiding this look, please share it!) The last few pieces I put on had very little paint and I finally started to see some of the texture talked about in the articles.

I didn't add any batting to this, backing it with Decor Bond (a very heavy fusible interfacing) only. I stitched around the outside of the stump and then lines up through it with King Tut variegated grey cotton thread. Then I stitched the shoots and leaves with Oliver Twist hand-dyed cotton thread in green. I finished it off by adding the blue "frame" and stitching the edge with a feather stitch.

After I'd done the fusing, I didn't think I liked it at all and the shine really bothered me. But after stitching it and standing back from it, I was amazed at the depth I got - which I'm sure I couldn't have done by painting directly on the fabric. I suppose I'll have to play with this some more. I really like this stump too, and would like to do it again with a different background (this one read a little darker than I anticipated) and some batting to bring out dimension.

As always, you may click on any picture for a larger view.

1 comment:

Anne Wigfull said...

Love the tree stump, Sheila! Could the shininess be due to reheating the paint rather than the web itself? I'm trying to think what Beaney and Littlejohn have to say about it in their booklet, without actually moving to root out the book.