Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More On The Fabric Bedcover

Here is a good view of what's been done, and whats left to do! The piece is oriented sideways on the table. The unpainted area corresponds to the "top" of the cover, ie: at the headboard. The seam is in the centre of the table now, from side to side. Not that it matters particularly...Here is the chalk drawing for this next section.
And here you can see that section more or less completed...

Its really an incredible amount of detail, even for me. I don't think I have ever concentrated so much tiny detail on such a large piece. It think its beautiful.

To unify the whole, and to give it an ''inky'' look, I am painting a transparent "glaze"- like wash over the whole area outside the centre , in a sort of indigo/purple colour. It cools off the flowers and leaves, making them look moist and shady, like the forest floor...I will do some more of that today; it often dries lighter, and allows me to create even more layering, by it needing more than it looks like when its wet In other words, the stages are slow. It's hard to overdo it in one glaze. That's a good thing, for me!

I will be sort of sad when this is done. Its been hard work, mentally, since there had to be a lot of consistency in the flowers and scale. I had to pay quite a bit of attention, and that's fine, but it's demanding, and physically tiring, having to huddle over a small space for a long time!!...But the main point is I am so happy with the way it looks, I will miss that satisfying feeling when a whole section comes together, and looks really good... but I suppose I feel like that all the time when something is getting done and looks good. ...
Soon I will be thinking this about the next project. Still a few things to do on this one though... stay tuned.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Painted Fabric Bed Quilt Project Continues...

It was important to maintain the impact of the central floral which will pretty much fill up the centre of the top of the bed...the sides will be the Mille Fleurs areas.
I have more or less completed the right hand middle part, and to keep the momentum going, I am going to slide the fabric up and begin the whole bottom section. Later I will go back and complete the left hand middle bit, and probably do some more little tiny details on the right hand side. Then I will draw and paint the top section last. Just worked out that way, no reason.

As before, I block in the dark areas, and then begin blocking in larger areas of colour, gradually adding more and more detail on top.

Lots of work! LOTS of detail. But once the theme, colours and repeating elements are established (the analytical part!), its a very meditative satisfying process...its going well, and its fun.

Exciting New Fabric Project

I have been planning this large fabric bed cover project with a client for months now. Finally its time on the work calender has arrived.The project is for a hand painted one-off piece with a central, radiating design, to cover a Queen sized bed, with a 2 foot drop on 3 sides. The fabric will subsequently be machine quilted with a star pattern, and lined to fashion a lightweight bedspread for a large, beautiful four posted bed. The starting points for the design is a rug from the same room, and floral designs from embroidered silk shawls from southern Spain. A LOT of planning has gone into this, since its so large, (approx. 8'x9') and needs to end up a very specific size.
Usually I staple my fabric down before painting, shrinkage does occur, and I like to work on a tight, flat, non- moving surface. But I can't do that here.

With extra allowance for whatever shrinkage will occur (usually 1-2 inches, depending which way the weave is), I boldly set out putting a lot of colour on the fabric, every which way I can. I want there to be a lot going on in the background of the design: a lot of depth. Since I don't know exactly where the dense floral areas will be, nor where the more open areas will be between flowers, I have to cover the whole thing with this mottled effect that will look like distant foliage and blurry leaves once the rest of the work is painted in. There isn't going to be the usual "designy" motifs I often put in the background of my fabric yardage (swirls, big dots, geometric grid designs of squares and diamonds, etc).

Its such a big piece, but I know from experience that finding the centre, and doing a lot of measuring and thinking at this stage pays off later, and it will probably all turn out OK. The border makes the measuring and planing final. In fact, I did this border twice, in chalk, since I decided to make the whole design bigger, and then we decided to add a third row of checks. The edge row of checks will be turned under after , and on top of the quilting process, to finish the whole thing on the underside.
Drawing with chalk is crucial, I simply wipe out mistakes with a wet sponge. Normally when I paint fabric yardage projects I either don't draw at all, except for marking out pillow squares, or I do a very vague block out of some feature (bird or something)..and just start painting. In this case, however, the design is very formal, and the dimensions,pattern and size of various elements is very important. So I am planning on drawing just about everything in the chalk first. I wipe it out as I go, and any little bits left over, come out in the wash.(!)

After a very intense chalk session, lots of measuring and wiping out, and thinking hard, I feel confident to draw out the outline in a dark paint. This dark outline becomes the shadow under the plants later.

Although I have followed the pattern fro the rug pretty faithfully, I am certainly going to make it my own, and also , since its not a wool tufted thing, but a painted thing, I can introduce a whole lot more interesting detail. Making the transition from the centre floral to the field of flowers goes through a couple of versions, and we finally smooth out the kinks in the design, and work out the details for the rest of the piece. We are looking for a an over-all sense of pattern, but not a slavish symmetrical mirror pattern from one side to the other. It also will develop an early Renaissance Mille Fleurs tapestry look.