Thursday, March 26, 2009

how to grow a tree

Let's just jump right in...

First there's the "empty canvas"-- if you look closely, you can see the faint charcoal outlines of the trunk and branches.
With the pile of brown paints and the teeny rotary cutter, I get busy slicing and shaping.
Now the overall shape is clear, moving outwards into the smaller branches, and I start to close some of the gaps.
The body gains solidity and more shaping to define the places where there is overlap or a split between branches. I've been tacking things down with the iron along the way, just a brief 2 or 3 second touch to keep the pieces from shifting as I layer and cover gaps. Before moving into the top section I'll slide my small pressing mat underneath and press over the whole lower trunk.
The whole piece is shifted to give me access to most of the top area. It is all resting on a piece of blue insulation foam (the stiff stuff, about 1" thick, that you can find at places like Lowes or Home Depot), which in turn is balanced on the ironing board. Insulation foam is, I think, the easiest and fastest way to give yourself a design wall. You can pin into it and prop it against the wall, or wrap it in flannel-- even a bedsheet would do-- and your fabric will stick to it without pins, great for auditioning fabric placement.
Here I'm using the tweezers to place fabrics in the upper branches. Why tweezers? Partly because I've been drinking too much coffee. But mostly because there's less chance of me disturbing the other pieces. It's very easy to end up knocking something out of alignment. Also, it's not easy to get a hold on a teeny sliver of fabric without accidentally shredding or fraying it, and the tweezers allow you to manipulate the placement much more delicately.
And the full image:
I'll go back in to tweak some areas where it needs a bit more coverage, or where an especially light or dark fabric is leaping out and needs toning back, but overall it's ready for threadwork. Once the thread is in, the foliage will be added and stitched over. But that's for another day....

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