Thursday, December 10, 2015

Just the Two of Us - the pelicans are finished!

There they are! The pelicans are finished!  I am thrilled with how this project turned out. So many ups, downs, and even sideways to get to the end, but finally, we made it. Thank you so much for following along their journey with me - you are all amazing, helpful, supportive, you know - the best!

Here's what happened since the last post:

I decided on the freehand painted background -

Lots of invisible applique:

More invisible applique - placing the pelicans onto the background:

Loading of the beautiful ice-dyed backing (this one was dyed by Helia Ricci):

And then the quilting:

And then the blocking and drying:

The first facing.

Believe it or not, this was my first time facing a quilt.  On my first attempt, I cut my pieces, folded in half and pressed and then attached to the four sides of the quilt.  Well, I was so unhappy with the miters this happened:

After talking with my friend I decided to do a full facing (waste a lot of fabric).  And since I really wanted some wow, I decided to curve the edges.

Just a little bit more and it will be finished!

So that's it... it went by a lot faster in pictures!  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pelican progress is at a standstill

Being not exact might just be a good thing.

I'll elaborate on that...
I've been at a standstill working on the Pelicans. That darn background (again). If you've been following the progress you'll remember that I ditched my original plan of appliqué on the water background as it was distracting and would overpower the pelicans. I ordered more silk in a slightly different shade and did some freehand water and waves. It was okay, better than the appliqué but still not perfect. Anyway, I dropped the background and went to work on the pelicans themselves -- which turned out awesome. Time came for me to get back to work on the background. As I still wasn't thrilled with the background I decided to try a different approach. I created a stencil of the actual waves from my master copy and painted according to the stencil. This was an exact replica of the photo. Well guess what... I didn't like it. I felt it was entirely too much, it pulled your eye to the background instead of to the pelicans. That was totally not my intention, why would I spend so much time and effort to create these beautiful pelicans only to have them fall second to the background?!!

Here is the original photo:

Here is the freehand background:

Here is the stenciled background:

I asked my two best friends opinions and they liked the stenciled background. When I questioned if it distracted from the pelicans they replied that it didn't, without the movement of the water the piece became flat. I asked another good friend and she choose the freehand background saying the stenciled background was too much and did cause distraction. Ahhh!  So, I put the two pictures out on Facebook and asked for opinions.  It was a landslide -- the freehand background, and for all the reasons I thought initially. While the stenciled background showed waves and water movement it was entirely too distracting. Your eye went immediately to the water background as opposed to seeing the beautiful pelicans. A few people mentioned the stenciled background looked as if it was rough seas. Well, me being the photographer, it was. It was a crappy day, which explains the rough-looking waves and why the pelicans were hanging at the boat ramp just waiting for fisherman to clean their catch and drop some scraps. Another person mentioned that something has obviously caught the attention of the one pelican which is why he stood up and that perhaps I should place something in the water. Well, it was me who caught his attention when I walked up to photograph them.

The majority of Facebook land agreed with me and thought the freehand background worked better for this project.  I do appreciate every opinion and comment!  They helped me to get over my must-be-exactly-like-the-photo mentality.  Because all this being said I am kind of a nut when I create these pieces -- my brain tells me it must be exact. And no, I don't like the exact in this piece. So I guess it is okay to take some creative license and soften the background, staying with the freehand painting. I want the pelicans to be the focus, not the water - that must remain a background as opposed to a focal point. The eye needs a place to rest. And, I also have to remember that thread will be added to this when it gets quilted -- thread which will also create additional shading, highlighting, and movement.

So back I go to finish the freehand background (no, neither background is completed in the photos). Wish me luck -- I want this piece to be perfection!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mr Pelican is done!

So I spent all day yesterday - and I mean ALL DAY. The dogs woke me up promptly at 5:00 am - apparently no one told them about the time change. Up that early meant only one thing, lots of work would be happening on the pelicans.

I started with making my applique pieces:

Remember the last pelican post - the one where I forgot to take before pictures almost every time. Well this time I was smart. I placed all my pieces together and took the before pic.

The feathers along the backside:

Then the tail feathers:

Next was the underbelly:

And then the large wing feather (yep, forgot a single pic of that one).
But here is the finished pelican:

Now all that's left to work on is the background. I know I hard started it, but it needs more work. Then I need to invisible applique all the pieces of both pelicans together, and then the placement on the background. It's all coming together nicely!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Painting Technique

Many have asked about my painting technique on the pelicans and want to know how I learned. I was able to spend a week with Sharon Schamber in a small group week-long retreat. During this retreat I created Oliver, my owl quilt. I have used the techniques I learned from Sharon in so many of my quilts over the years - like I have said before, if you ever get the chance to take one of her classes, do so! Her wealth of knowledge is unimaginable - you will learn so much, I am proud to call her my friend!

So, back to the painting technique. If you are unable to take one of her classes, you can order one of her DVDs on her daughter Cristi's website, Purple Daisies Quilting. The DVD is entitled Quilt Fairy (Concept, Design and Construction), and it was based on the techniques covered during the week-long retreat. This is the next best thing to having Sharon there with you in person.

I've taken what I learned from Sharon and added my own style to it. Yes, I do some things differently, but the base technique is still there -- you have to take what you learn and make it work best for you - adjust, adapt, change, but most importantly learn, as much as you can!! Try new techniques and practice - not every piece will be perfect, but I'm sure you will learn something new with each piece.

Hopefully this answers the questions many of you have commented and emailed me - keep creating!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pelicans - a whole lotta progress!

I've been busy - after traveling to Gammill Headquarters, teaching at Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Fredericksburg, and finishing a much overdue client quilt, I took some time off to work on the pelicans.

I started with Mr. Pelican's feet. I did my usual turned edge foundation applique.

And then used Shiva Paintstiks to make magic happen:

Then on to Mrs. Pelican's feet:

And more Shiva paints:

I absolutely love how the feet turned out!

Then on to the beaks,

And then Mr. Pelican after the paint:

And Mrs. Pelican after some paint:

You might remember in my last pelican post how I wasn't thrilled with the dock. Well, after I placed the pieces onto the master copy to look at the layout and I added the feet on the dock - I love it! Its amazing how adding other elements changes your perspective.

I turned the edges to all of Mrs. Pelican's pieces and placed them on the master copy for reference.

And then the painting of feathers began. I must apologize, sometimes I forget to take before pictures. Here's an after:

And again, another after:

One more after (I'm really bad at taking the picture before I start, guess I'm just too excited to create):

Oh look, here's an almost before:

And here is the after:

Finally, a before:

And an almost finished:

And here she is - Mrs. Pelican:

I still need to glue-baste all the pieces together until its time to stitch her to the background, but I am so pleased with how she turned out. Yes, I can see a couple of areas that I'm going to need to tweak with thread when quilting time comes, but nevertheless, I am thrilled with her!

Tomorrow another rush client quilt arrives, so that'll be it for the pelican work for a little while. I missed my original deadline of 10/1, and its doubtful impossible that I'll make my secondary deadline of 10/16. I really, really, really wanted to enter the pelicans into AQS Daytona, but unfortunately I am unable to perform miracles and have this pieced, painted, appliqued, quilted, faced, and sleeved by Friday - I'm good, but I'm not that good!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pelicans... we have progress!

It's been awhile since I worked on the pelicans.
Client work, life, you know, all those things that happen when you're not looking.

Awhile back I did start to paint the background - start... it still needs a lot of work, both with paint and later with thread, but it was a start.

So last week I moved my schedule around and worked on the pelicans. It was bliss - I desperately needed to create. I traced all my pieces onto foundation paper for the applique.

I started with the concrete, a beautiful ivory silk. It somehow seems awful that I'd be slowly turning into algae, fish gut, and bird-poo covered concrete. Well, if you've ever been to this boat ramp, it's directly next to the fish cleaning station - which makes it a favorite of the pelicans.

It's only the paint process - so much more will happen when the thread finally gets added. Sometimes I must say this aloud - to make sure I hear it and don't over paint.

Then on to the dock. The piece of silk I have isn't quite the color I need, but I made it work. Like I said in my facebook post -- the need to create is far greater than the need for perfection!

I wanted the lines of the silk to work with the wood grain of the dock planks. Well, this wasted a lot of silk. Sometimes we must sacrifice in the creation process...

I started with all the dark grain lines

Then adding a little white

Then some sienna

And then some silver and pewter to give the wood an aged look

Then I went back with the fabric pen and added some detail

The dock still needs a bit more work, and I'm not fully satisfied with the paint part yet.  There isn't enough definition of each plank (at least to me). No worries, I'll get it and hopefully before I get to that over-painted part. I know and have to remind myself that when I quilt the thread will also do a lot of the work.

Honestly, I know why I'm unhappy with the dock... yep, I took a shortcut. I made the entire dock from one piece of silk. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have made each plank section its own piece of applique. No, I'm not redoing the piece, but I will most likely spend more time fixing the dock than if I had made each piece separately. I should know by now that shortcuts aren't always as short as they appear.

So that's it on the progress for now... stay tuned, we''ll see what happens with that dock!