I also have a new gallery on my website, http://www.heidizielinski.com/, Gallery 3, so please check it out. These pieces were mostly created in the past six months (except for the Christmas ornament which I forgot to include in the last gallery!).
Several months ago I was asked by my mother-in-law to create a piece of fiber art for some friends of their family who were going to be having their 50th wedding anniversary. Initially she suggested a memory type quilt which related to their life experiences, children, etc. Unfortunately I wasn't comfortable doing a piece like that since it is so different from what I normally do, and I was finding it very hard to find inspiration for it. I knew that this couple and their family loved to go camping and had visited Yellowstone, Glacier and other western destinations on family vacations and such (they are from the Chicago area). So I suggested that I do a nature themed piece more similar to what I usually create, and since I had an idea from some recent experimenting I was ready to get started.
What I came up with was a piece that incorporates a large tree with a textured trunk created from molding paste. The paste comes as white and I added Pearl-Ex powder to it in a bronze color and painted the paste onto the fabric with a palette knife using a paper template to maintain the shape with a little more control. I let the molding paste dry, then I used some of my fabric paints to add highlight and shadow. I used Elmer's Blue Glue (gel) to draw out the mountains, let it dry, and then painted the mountains and the lines of glue acted as a resist. I painted the rest of the landscape of meadow, sun and blue sky using fabric paint. When it was dry, I rinsed out the washable glue in warm water. I appliqued a path that moves into the distance, then I free motion quilted the piece adding in some clouds in the sky and grass/flowers in the meadow. After quilting and binding the piece, I added a bit of beading in the foreground and along the path.
Now I was ready to work on the leaves for the tree. I layered fabric and batting and machine stitched around leaf shapes I drew onto the fabric, added vein details, and satin stitched the edges. Then I cut them out. In order to cover the batting which showed around the edges and secure the threads, I painted the edges with Lumiere fabric paint and pinned them to a piece of foam to dry. I stitched the leaves to the branches on beaded strands so they dangled and swayed. Then I added meaningful words to the backs of the leaves using fabric markers and paint so they were readable but not too bold. Words like: Love, Friendship, Family, Hope, etc. If I had known what I wanted to do with the words earlier, I could have written them BEFORE I attached them to the piece. As it was I had to lay paper under them and make sure not to mark on the quilt top as I did this---and making sure they did not flip over onto the quilt before they were dry!
The piece was done in plenty of time but unfortunately we didn't get it shipped in time for it to be presented to the couple at their anniversary party---images were shown to them instead. My mother-in-law, Diana, has the quilt now and will be presenting it to them shortly. I truly hope they enjoy it and that they are all happy with the results of my work. It was a fun piece to do, although different from my usual. Painting the entire piece instead of using commercial fabrics was somewhat out of my box, but I enjoyed the process and was satisfied with the results.
I learned through this process that I probably don't want to pursue commission work at this point in time because I find it difficult to be inspired to create something with someone else's vision. I am usually inspired by fabric, beads, a technique, or something else and I envision where it might take me and then have enthusiasm for moving towards that vision. Trying to work with another person's vision is very hard for me, but maybe if I continue to participate in challenges and learn to accept suggestions from others about what they find interesting (translate: sellable!), maybe I will get there at some point in my “career”. In case you aren't familiar with “challenges” they are usually initiated by some group and have parameters and rules about what you have to do (a theme, style, colorway, etc.) and sometimes what materials you can use. I have participated in several of them over the past few years and I think I have improved, but they are definitely still a CHALLENGE!