Many of the ideas I have for my quilts begin with the inspiration of a vintage photo. My green quilt, picture above, started with a vintage black and white photo that I scanned, and then modified in Photoshop (you could also use Photoshop Elements or any photo editing program).
Once scanned, it was a simple process of colorizing the photo with a green hue. Why tint the photo, you ask? I’m not sure other than that I saw all these wonderful green leaves everywhere at the time (hands up, who else is sick to death of this winter?) and thought of green. It was just that simple; you can do it too with any favorite black and white or sepia photo and your own favorite color!
Once I had colorized my image, I printed it onto Transfer Artist Paper (TAP, developed by fiber artist Lesley Riley) and then transferred it to Lutradur. The photo above shows my final colorized image ready to sew, as well as a hint of materials that I thought I would incorporate into this art quilt.
I begin my design process by tossing the fabric and embellishments around. I knew I wanted to work with my hand dyed fabrics, and my vintage linens and trim. I just pull materials and lay them in a sorted pile. Then I walk away from it. Thus when I come back it after a break, I make my next choice with fresh eyes. Sometimes I have to do this several times each, adding and subtracting new fabrics and trims, until I finally see an arrangement that “clicks” and makes me smile.
My next step is to finalize my choices of embellishments. Some start early in my process, some come in after the main fabrics have been selected. Pictured above I have pulled materials including a mixture of green beads, pearls, vintage millinery, and hand dyed vintage trims and ribbon.
A side bar about my beads: The mixtures that we sell at Artistic Artifacts are the same ones that I use in my artwork. In my studio I have them corralled in little hardware drawers, each with a specific color and mixture of glass beads. I have, oh, maybe 64 drawers!
Pictured above is a stage where I have worked on the focal point of the art quilt. At this point everything is stitched down in the center. My original decision was to not stitch the background, and I can say now that I think I goofed by not doing so. If I were repeating the project, I would stitch the backing before layering my photo.
My finished art quilt, as pictured at the beginning of this post [view a large image with more detail]. As you can see, there are some key differences from what I started out with: the vintage millinery is beige, not peach; beads are turquoise, not green; and the trims are darker than my original lighter choices.
This art quilt could be thought of as a lesson in monochromatic color scheme. I like it! And yes, it still makes me smile when I look at it.
I find that many times you are paralyzed by the number of options to create and therefore do nothing. It’s my opinion that there could have been a million options on how to create an art quilt with this, or any, photo. You just have to choose one and begin! As you see from my example, you may end up changing things along the way, but your end goal should simply be that you’re happy with your final product. One of the key things I love about art quilts is that there are no rules!