Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Variations on a Theme

"June, June! Strawberry Moon!"
11" x 13" Art Quilt/Private Collection
Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2006

I'm feeling guilty about not posting for so long. Some progress is being made, so I really should give you a peek at how the moons are coming along. In order to see my progression in using the strawberry moon theme, I'm starting with the the first one above, made way back in 2006 before I moved back to Idaho. The tree trunks are discharged using a freezer paper stencil and the moon is hand-dyed fabric also discharged and then reverse appliqued into place. I did some hand quilting along the trunks and moon, then mounted it to the commercial print - a method newly experimented with here but which has become a mainstay finishing technique for me.

"Strawberry Moon"
4" x 6" framed Textile Art
Sheila Mahanke Barnes 2010

Fast forward to last fall and the resurrection of the strawberry moon in miniature form.

I'm often sketching trees, either curvy trunks or ones with branches overlapping. This one had no particular place I planned to use it, but resized, it became the basis for the grouping of trees I used on the landscape-oriented miniature. When I discovered that I couldn't get mats locally with the proper size opening for my postcard size minis, I realized that this sketch was the perfect size for a slightly larger 5 x 7 inch miniature version. How would a moon look behind the trees? Just fine!

But between the miniature of 2010 and the 5 x 7 of this month, there were these variations in my original design. Discounting the clone harvest moons at lower right (the only difference between them is the sky fabric and they have batting which the original harvest moon did not), each time I worked with the extra moons I'd cut, I altered the trees a bit - not really what I'd set out to do but which I happily succumbed to. First I changed the orientation from landscape to portrait as well as changing background and moon color and number/arrangement of trees (upper left). Then I moved on to a different fabric for the trees which looked good with the peachy moon on the navy background
(upper middle). Because I wanted the same color combination for the larger version and my fabric was limited, the moon is smaller than in the others. The addition of another tree with or without branches didn't work - too cluttered. I like the simplicity of the single tree. The moon is also offset more, but in the larger version to the right, more room allowed for all trees and the moon looked best centered. I had the full set of trees cut for the last variation (middle left), birch-like fabric set against navy background, was arranging them when for some reason, I wondered if it would look better with just trunks like in my original strawberry moon. I let it sit overnight, then decided, yes indeed, I wanted this one to be plain old trunks. At the stage in this picture, all have been stay-stitched, trimmed and fray-checked. All have batting, except for the 5 x 7 which is only backed with Decor Bond for stability (it will be taped to a mat and framed). The other strawberry moons have Decor Bond with the fusible side exposed so that they can be fused to a mount after the edges have been satin stitched - will show that later. The harvest moon on the left has been finished out as a postcard, edges now satin stitched, and the other one will be taped to a mat for framing.

As I worked late this afternoon, I noticed a bit of a sunset in progress. Moving to my bedroom with the western exposure I saw how wonderfully these trees were silhouetted against the coral clouds. It answered a question I'd been posing all day, wondering if I should be doing anything to those plain navy backgrounds behind my trees. I'd decided not to complicate things with this set of variations, but to keep in mind the possibility of adding clouds if I continue working with these images. It's obvious why trees keep showing up in my work, isn't it?


Carol said...

Beautiful work!

June said...

Way to think through your ideas. I love the framing that you did, too, and I can see you still have lots more in this series to play with.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thank you both. Yes, I could go on for quite awhile with this series, building and getting more complex. In retrospect, these variations are a bit like sketches, and have practically no stitching. Need to start incorporating more quilting stitch again me thinks.