Week in Review 2023 – 11/10

Making Pots

I am making pots this week. No, I have not changed media. This is an expression coming from a story told in “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland. The link takes you to the story re-quoted in a post about writing. The gist is that in order to progress and turn out the best product, one must experiment and learn from experience. The more pots one makes the more one learns and improves. If, on the other hand, one doesn’t take time to experiment, a mediocre result is likely.

This a cropped picture of my college roommate taken by her husband.

My Muse is Yelling

It is time to start my next “large” quilt. I am eager, compelled even, to try my hand at recreating the image of my college roommate, Sue, taken by her husband. He shared this picture with me and our friends along with a hilarious and harrowing story. Doesn’t Sue look serene in her surroundings. When the world is topsy turvy I often feel drawn to making quilts to counter balance the chaos. At first, I thought I would crop the image further, focusing on Sue’s face and torso. It would be next in my 12″ x 12″ thread painted portrait series. Instead, I am going to make pots. It is currently scaled at approximately 36″ H x 24″ W.

Sue is “cut” from the background and the background is deleted.

Solutions 🙂

Can I up the scale and still thread paint Sue’s head, arms and feet? Is this insane. No need to answer that. We all know the answer. Normally, I start by printing the scaled image on inkjet fabric sheets. However, Adobe Acrobat and MAC’s new operating system haven’t been speaking to each for over a month. Why is this relevant? Because it allows me to “tile” the image. More on that shortly. The Senior Executive Director of Studio Operations worked hard on this problem. He even succeed. Unfortunately, I would be totally dependent on him if I went this route. Toss that pot away. Finally, after much pot making and time wasting scouring the Internet for solutions I stumbled upon a reference to Rapid Resizer in a magazine article. It’s a miracle. I can now tile images again.

Sue is printed on inkjet fabric sheets.

Do you see the seam lines in the above photo? That is tiling. It is useful whenever you want to print something larger than the page going through your printer. Rapid Risizer automatically takes the image and divides it into pages or tiles with a cutting margin. You can even select the size of the cutting margin. In this case the cutting margin is the seam allowance.

It is wise to experiment before fully committing to hours and hours of work.

Since this is larger than anything I have ever attempted to thread paint before, I need to make pots. I hoped to quilt it on my mid-arm sit down machine. Chuck that pot. The size and the “punch” of the needle leaves gaps and lumps between threads that refuses to fill in. What’s left? My domestic machine with the 8″ throat. That won’t work unless… Yes, that pot is good enough. Instead of thread painting on a multi-layer quilt sandwich, I backed the ink jet fabric with two layers of Sulky’s Totally Stable Stabilizer. It won’t be easy. However, I am confident I can roll the top as needed to thread paint on my trusty domestic machine. No doubt, I will continue to make more pots as I work my way through this piece.

Rainbow Scrap Challenge

When I need a break from the intensity of working on Sue, I can start my 2024 Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt. My black fabric is here.

Hurray! The black fabric I ordered arrived.

I’m linking up to the following posts:

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


  1. I sure like the looks of your friend’s image. Do you plan to be very realistic? I’m most struck by the beauty of the friend, and the long time you’ve known each other, how fit and flexible she is, reminding all the young people out there, we are still who we are, the shell gets roughed up by life a bit is all. LeeAnna

    1. Very realistic me? No, LeeAnna. My plan, of course it is early days, is to continue with the mixed media or more accurately mixed techniques style I have been playing with lately. I am enjoying thread painting parts, appliquéing other parts and placing the portrait on a simple background.

      Yes, Sue and I were roommates in 1973. We both started dating the boys who would become our husbands. Hard to believe that was 50 years ago. Between us we have six children and I think (lost count of Sue’s) 12 grandchildren. She keeps our average up. 🙂 We don’t get together often, but when we do, it is as if no time had passed. We simply pick up where we left off. Yes, Sue and I are both fortunate that we have stayed active, fit and flexible over the years.

  2. So interesting to read about your process with your Sue project! It’s definitely true that sometimes we have to try things many times in order to get the effect we want. I also agree that when life gets crazy, quilting and creativity are what help balance the chaos! You found a pretty black for your next RSC project, too.

    1. It is a fairly common process for art quilters to design project at one scale, then need to scale it up and create a cartoon by tiling it. There are other methods. I see more and more people designing their work on computer to be cut digitally. These are very intricate fused appliqué pieces.

      My black fabric is actually a wide backing fabric. I figure I can cut long strips that way.

    1. There is nothing like starting a new art project to have me eager to get back to the studio. Like you, Jenny, I’m interested to see what progress I make. Having blogger companions like you, keeps me motivated too.

    1. Yes, making pots is a key to improving no matter the medium. The more quilts you make the more you hone in on the those techniques and tricks that work for you. There is always more to learn, too.

      Sue is planned. Tomorrow, I will pull out the fabric and thread to begin the hard part – creating the actual top. Can’t wait.

  3. Another very interesting and huge project, I’m glad that you found a way to print the image the way you wanted to. It’s going to be an amazing portrait, and I can’t wait to follow your progress.
    Thank you so much for sharing your art, and linking up.

    1. Some of us, I include you Frédérique, simply can’t resist quilting challenges. There is one other solution to print large scale projects and that is to send the image to a business that will do it for you. One reason I resisted this solution is because I wanted to “see” the scale and how crisp the image before committing to fabric. There is a bit of testing before committing.

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