Here's the hull laid and ready to stitch. Right now the hull looks like a bunch of separate pieces of fabric. I'll use the thread to blend the colors.
Here is my palette of thread colors. I may or may not use all of them. We'll see what the piece needs. I'll be using light to medium gray's for the hull. The video below shows the beginning of stitching the hull with a medium gray thread. Unfortunately, this thread tends to break as happens as the end of the video.
And here is the hull all stitched.
Now that the sky and the ocean background is all done, it's time to actually start work on the ship. I started by printing out the ship to the exact size of the piece. I will be using this for reference over the course of creating the piece.
After staring at the photo for quite a while, I determined that I could start by laying the hull. Each of the fabrics shown in the photo will be used in the ship. For the hull I needed medium to light grays. I started by ironing a heat-activated glue to the back of each of the fabrics. The glue is attached to a paper. I will be using this paper later on.
In the first part of this time-lapse video, I cut out all of the pieces of the hull. I start by carefully peeling off the paper being careful not to separate the glue from the fabric. Then I trace the shape using the full size photo as a template. After that, I iron the paper back onto the fabric and glue combo and then cut out the shape.
Once all the shapes are cut out, I carefully remove the paper backing and discard it. This is where things get a little tricky. I first had to pin the full size photo to the artwork. This is so that I can place all of the pieces in the correct spot. For each of the pieces of the hull, I stuck to pins along the line of the deck through the photo and into the artwork. As I carefully lift the photo I can see the placement points as shown by the location of the pins. This will make more sense as you watch me doing this at the end of the video. Once in place, I iron the piece of fabric to activate the glue.
When all of the hull pieces have been ironed down, I will stitch over the entire hull with probably 3 or 4 shades of gray thread.
I decided to go with three different thread colors: a medium gray, a slightly darker medium gray, and the steel blue.
The top couple of inches is the lighter gray. The next inch or so is the slightly darker gray. Right about this time is when the following happened...
My thread tension was messed up. I spent the next hour or so ripping out thread. Unfortunately, I didn't notice the problem soon enough. One of the hazards of working at an art show, there is so much ambient noise that it is hard to hear when something isn't quite right. Much of what is in that previous image had to be ripped out.
Once the thread tension problem was solved I was able to continue. Here's the two gray threads. I'm only about halfway done with the slightly darker gray at this point.
Here's all the ocean all stitched with the three colors of thread.
I don't usually show this, but here is what a portion of the back looks like. Notice that the top part has very straight stitching while the bottom has a lot of curves. I do the random curved stitching to give more wavelike movement to the water. Below is a brief video showing how I get that curved stitching.
Next I start work on the ship!
This is another time lapse video showing the ocean coming together.
And here's the ocean ready to stitch. Now the question becomes: what color thread should I use?
The blue is prettier. The gray is in keeping more with the mood of the piece. Both colors complement the fabric colors. Either one would look good. What to do? What to do?
Well, I put out a questionnaire in my booth and asked people to pick the color thread they preferred. The responses were mostly for the blue. But I still like the gray. But I also like the blue.
I think I'll sleep on it.
Here's a close-up view of a portion of the sky. The photo on the left has just a little bit of stitching. The photo on the right has a lot more. You can really see the difference when the thread gets added on top. Not only does the thread blend all the fabrics together, but it also covers much of the designs on the fabrics.
Here's the sky all stitched.
And here's the next step in the creation of the Floyd B Parks: all of the fabrics cut out and ready to create the ocean. Note: right after I took this photo I was putting all of these pieces of fabric into a box. In the process I got a bit clumsy and knocked the box to the floor. I was picking up pieces for quite a while.
I had some fun with this app. It lets me do a time lapse video. In this video you can see the sky being collaged together. This is about two hours of work compressed into less than two minutes. I am placing the fabrics that I previously cut out so that the sky has some movement and so that none of the same fabrics are next to each other.
And here is the sky all done. Now it is ready to be stitched.
After all the responses from the last newsletter that I sent out, I decided that the next piece that I am going to work on is in honor of my father. He served aboard the USS Floyd B Parks in 1955-56. I think it will be a fitting tribute to create a piece of artwork of his ship. I think it is going to be a challenge though. There is quite a bit of detail to contend with.
In this series of posts I'm going to take you through the process of creating this piece.
Part One: Using the reference photo, I picked out a bunch of light grey and pale blue fabrics to represent the sky. I briefly considered going completely black and white, but decided it would make this a much too somber piece. So I decided on mostly grey with hints of blues. The third, fourth, and fifth fabrics from the left I decided not to use since they were a bit too dark for the sky. I want to have enough contrast between the sky and the ocean. I substituted some other light blue and gray fabrics instead. (Note: To anyone familiar with the USS Floyd B Parks, her number is DD-884. I am using a photo of a different ship because DD-883 and DD-884 are close enough for my purposes and I needed to use a non-copyrighted image.)
The next step is to cut all the fabrics into little tiny pieces. I spent several hours doing that while I was showing my work at the Laguna Art-A-Fair Festival. You can hear the background music along with the baby bird in the nest above a neighbor's booth.
Here's my pile of sky fabrics ready to collage together. But that's going to be for another day.
It was a beautiful evening at the Preview Night for the Laguna Beach Art-a-Fair Festival. I felt gorgeous in my new dress. And the weather couldn't have been more perfect. Thank you to all of you who came and made it such a great evening.
The Laguna Art-A-Fair is open every day through September 3, 2017. Let me know if you want tickets and I'll see if I can get you some.
Fiber Artist and Author, Loretta Alvarado