Sunday, December 07, 2014

Photos on Fabric

I've been working up a journal to give my hair stylist for Christmas. She's an avid huntress who did not have the best luck this year. I'd told her about the issue I ran into when thinking to use my moose photo on a padfolio with the nose ending up on the flap and...oh no - the moose's rear on the front cover. She laughed and thought that might actually be fun. I came up with a different solution and this moose on fabric has been hanging around the studio ever since, waiting for a place to be used. It was sized almost perfectly for a journal cover and I knew if I gave it to my hair stylist, the moose's rear on the back cover would only make her smile. And perhaps she could use it to keep track of her scouting and weather, her successes and failures. Using the same formula as here, I added a strip to the bottom to make it long enough and fused it to craft felt. This was printed out on muslin and lacked the extra stability that the heavier waxed batik had. I was hoping the fusible web would rectify that. And because I didn't have the extra I did on the other journal cover, I planned to satin stitch the edges. If you click on the picture, you should be able to see I've started "quilting" by outlining the moose in dark brown thread.

Because it is fused, I can get away with less quilting. And there's a limit to what I want to add. Some might go whole hog and thread paint over the entire moose, but that seems redundant to me - why would I want to cover up the detail on a photo that printed so clearly to fabric? I settled for adding some bushes which because of how heavily the snow was falling did not show up much in the photo. But a couple did - and they really were red - so I extended them across the piece. I also used the alphabet function on my machine to customize the cover.

The cover still was pretty flimsy, so I started looking for a fabric to line what would be the inside cover cutting it twice as long as needed so I could create a pocket front and back. Again, I used fusible web to adhere it to the felt, then turned up the excess, pressing the fold at the bottom.

Then the top was folded back down even with the bottom to create perfect pockets. A little basting glue along the edges held it in place for the satin stitching of the edges all round.

Since making the last journal, I've picked up a few tricks for low-cost bookbinding tools. You can buy or make a piercing cradle - a v-shaped contraption for holding your folded signatures while punching holes along the fold. Or in a pinch, you can use an old phonebook to cradle your signatures. And you need an awl to punch those holes (and if I were making lots of books, I'd no doubt invest in one), but you can also use a push pin or a long thick needle. I have some doll needles I bought for thread basting on someone's recommendation, but they turned out to be too big for that. I'd been thinking about trying one for piercing although the needle might be tricky to hold onto. Then I ran across a tip that suggested protecting the point on an awl by sticking it into a wine cork before putting it away. Hmmm - could I embed the other end of my needle in a cork to make a handle? Indeed I could! A champagne cork has a comfortable rounded top that feels good on the palm of my hand.

So here's the finished journal, with signatures sewn in with the long stitch again, using an off-white/grey yarn (you can see some of it along the left in the pic above). If I'd had the right color of red, I might have used that but I think I like this more unobtrusive color better. The button is out of my several generational collection and has a woven patterning that makes it a little more special.

There's a lot of discussion currently about the use of photos in quilt art, including the same issues being brought up about wholecloth painted quilts. Why print a photo on fabric and add stitching instead of printing it on photo paper? Why paint on cotton and add stitches rather than paint on stretched canvas or watercolor paper? I've always been conflicted about the use of photos on fabric. I've seen it masterfully done, where the photo is first manipulated or where its image us used much like a patterned fabric might be. But untouched photo to fabric incorporated into a quilt? I think there has to be a very good reason, and that adding of stitch can be quite tricky to pull off well. Which is why this moose never made it into a quilt for the wall, although I'm sure I could have surrounded it with pieced blocks or an appliqued extension of the landscape and on some level it would have worked. However, used as a journal cover, with accents of stitch, makes a certain sense. Still, I rarely do this, feeling more comfortable using manipulations of my photos rather than realistic images.

Where do you come down on this issue? Do you use photos printed on fabric in your work? If so, I'd love to see how you do it. 


Susan Sawatzky said...

I'm just guessing but I think these would sell rather well. It is rather charming.


Cate Rose said...

What a beautiful gift that is. I'm sure she'll love it!

Sherrie Spangler said...

This is a really fun journal cover. I'm sure she'll LOVE it!

Cheryl Gebhart said...

I love the journal - if your hairdresser doesn't like it, you can send it to me ;).

June said...

I think the moose as the journal cover works well, and your comments on photos on fabric are right on mark. Nice job!

Michele Matucheski said...

I LOVE this! It's a photo--really? It's a fantastic moose! Like an illustrations! It looks like you painted it! I picked up that book you were talking about -- Real Life Journals. My public Library had it. So I'm getting inspired to try some other styles.