Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seymour the Coelophysis

I've come to the conclusion that there are going to be a bunch of WIP: Wednesday posts about this dinosaur quilt.  I've decided his name is to be Seymour (thanks Kenda!), and I've been working on him all week.  Although I feel like I've made a lot of progress, I expect this project will take several months.   That's fine for me, but less exciting from a bloggy perspective.  However, since I'm trying out bunches of new techniques as I go, I thought I'd keep posting in case anyone wants to try it out.

When last we left off, I'd finished the dinosaur skeleton pattern and was moving on to the background.  Since Seymour is from Ghost Ranch, I thought having chimney rock in the background would be suitable.  I found a lovely photograph by googling and e-mailed the artist to ask her if I could use it as a guide for value placement in my quilt.  She said no, but I then talked to my mom who mentioned that she had a bunch of pictures of her own of chimney rock from various trips up there.

Side note, Ghost Ranch is a gorgeous place to visit, and my mom has been there several times for all different kinds of art and pottery workshops.  We camped there when I was a kid, but I don't really remember the beautiful scenery.  Two things stand out in my memory though.  The first is that there is some doubt as to whether I ever had the chicken pox (thus the scare in the fall when Mike had shingles), but if I did have them, it was an extremely mild case and I had them on one of our Ghost Ranch trips.  The second thing I remember is one hot dusty afternoon we were hanging out with my dad (who was watching us while my mom was at the workshop) and he bought us a coke from a very old soda machine which dispensed said coke in a glass bottle (complete with bottle cap).  Anyway,  I expect their vending machines have been updated, but you should all check out that part of New Mexico if you ever get out there.

To return to Seymour's background, my mom sent me a bunch of her ghost ranch pictures, and I picked one to use, printed it out in black and white, sketched in the sections I wanted (based on value), inked over the sketch, scanned it in, and turned it into a line drawing in Corel (as described here).  That process worked much better the second time around once I knew more or less how to get the results I wanted.

I then layered the skeleton and the background, resized in Corel, exported the file, and took it to Kinkos.  I thought about printing out the pattern full size on letter-sized paper, but the pattern is 48" x 72" which winds up being 42 pieces of paper.  Aside from the pain in the neck of lining it all up, I'd have to hold it together with tape which would melt during ironing, a problem from a construction standpoint.  So anyway,  Kinkos printed out a full sized pattern for me (even they had to do it on two pages since their large format printer is only 36" wide) and I pinned it up to my design wall!  Hooray!

The first part I decided to work on in fabric was the sky.  I decided to collage it in using a bunch of different blue fabrics all backed with fusible.  For this part, I followed the awesome Melody Johnson's approach.

Since there weren't any pre-defined shapes in the sky in my pattern, I more or less cut pieces out that I thought were nice sky-like shapes. I covered my pattern with parchment paper or the release paper from previously used fusible and then pinned up my fabric pieces on at a time, making sure they overlapped just a little bit and organizing them more or less into a dark-light gradient going upwards.  Once I had them where I liked them, I carefully took out the pins and fused the whole thing together right on the design wall (thus the parchment paper between the fabric and the pattern.  Here's the sky before (with pins) and after fusing.

I then moved the whole sky section away and stuck it to a different part of the design wall so I could start working on the chimney rock section.  The sky section is slightly larger than the final version so that the chimney rock section can be fused onto it.  I plan to assemble the background in three major pieces, the sky, the chimney rock section, and the foreground, then put them together and build Seymour on top.  It's definitely getting more fun now that I've gotten out the fabric!