Every project starts with an idea. That’s the easy part. I have lots of ideas. I keep a folder of photos, ideas and what-not that provide inspiration. I see ideas everywhere. The challenge is transforming the idea into a quilt.
Four years ago, this hummingbird was inside the building where my son, Blaine, was working. The bird was trying to get out a window. He managed to catch it and took it outside to release it. It was at this point, his friend Bob grabbed his camera. As Blaine opened his hand, the bird stayed there for a few seconds before flying away.
When Blaine sent me this picture, he suggested it would make a great quilt. I put the photo into my ideas folder, not knowing what I would do with it. Soon thereafter, he proposed to his girlfriend. I then pulled the photo out as I thought it would make the perfect wedding gift.
I’ve thought about this project for over three years. (And Blaine is still not married, but still engaged.) It has percolated, kept me awake at night and been a challenge to meet.
First, and foremost, flesh colors are next to impossible to find in fabric. When I couldn’t find the right colors in any fabric store, I resorted to trying to dye my own. I used all sorts of materials; things from commercial dyes to coffee and tea. Many yards of fabric later, I had some browns and pinks of various hues and values, but nothing fleshy.
I was introduced to Photoshop Elements about this time. One feature of the program is “posterizing” your photos. Basically, it takes your photos and converts it into an image with a limited number of different tones.
My sister, Do, suggested I do the hand in grey scale. This was intriguing (and, honestly, out of my comfort zone) but I thought it might highlight the hummingbird. The bird’s bright colors would contrast with the monochromatic hand. So I began to collect fabrics in all values of greys and black. Months went by as this was percolating, but I never got to the point of commitment. So there it stalled, yet again.
Not too long ago, Blaine reminded me he was still waiting for his quilt. (My response? I am still waiting for the wedding!) So, I decided to get back to the hummingbird. I went back to the original photo and posterized it in color. I played around with cropping the photo trying to decide how much of the hand I was going to include (or get away with eliminating?). Here is the final result:
I felt like I could work with this image. Since the colors weren’t strictly flesh coloured, I had better luck finding or dyeing fabrics to work.
This leads me into Part 2; Moving into the studio and preparing to quilt. Stay tuned.