My Thread Painting Process
Over the years I have developed a thread painting process. How? That’s simple, by trial and error. Finding a process takes time. Am I done yet? Probably not. However, my process is good enough for now.
I start with a photo. How do I know which photo to use? Instinct. I see something captivating and I am all in. The photo I am currently working with is of my son Adrian, busy working on an assignment in his 4th grade classroom. What is the appeal? His concentration is what first drew me in. However, there is something about the lighting, angle of his head and that slightly open mouth, that is iconic. You don’t need to know who he is, but I do. 🙂 The photo also brings back fond memories of his youth. Adrian turns 40 years old next January.
Choose A Photo
The photo must, make that MUST, be compelling to motivate me sufficiently to complete the process. It can feel daunting. One way to remove some of the terror is by cropping. I do this using Photoshop Elements.
In hindsight I wish I had zeroed in even further when I cropped the photo. However, the most important part of the cropping is done. That is the head. My process depends on a smooth edge of the area I will be thread painting. Why? Because this helps distinguish the area to be thread painted from the area to be cut away.
Thread painting takes a long time to do compared to piecing. Adrian’s head measures 7.5″ H x 5.5″ W. I used three bobbins worth of 50wt. fine polyester thread. I should have counted the number of colors required to captured his face. My best guess is 30 or more based on how may spools I put away once I was done.
Now that the photo is ready, it is time to set up the layers. I begin by copying the photo onto inkjet photo sheets. Since they go through my printer, they must fit the printer. I could send them out to be printed, but I’m cheap and eager. This process is less expensive and I can do it “instantly” at home. I may need to seam a few fabric sheets together, though. This must be done very, very carefully so the image lines up correctly. I layer the image the same way I layer my quilts. In other words top to bottom: the image, a web fusible, batting, a web fusible and backing. For further insurance, I stay stitch around the area to be thread painted.
Let the Stitching Begin
Finally, it is time for my favorite part of the process, the stitching. I start near the center with the lightest sections. In this case, I begin with the nose highlighting. I then proceed with any place else that uses the same color. Although I have a reasonably extensive thread collection, I never have all the threads required. Here is why trial and error is so important. I am teaching myself to create the value and hues I need by layering threads. Think of it like an impressionist painting.
Perhaps my next post will cover going from completed thread painting to how I use the painting as the focus feature in my quilt. The reality is I have yet to plan out my posts in advance. How ironic, considering I have such a methodical process for making art.
I finished my Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt! So now what? I am busy making a few more 8″ x 8″ pieces for my open studio in November. I realized the one I finished up last week has a rainbow palette.
I’m linking up to the following posts: