Waxing Crescent: Experimental Fabric Collage

Last summer one night I was riding in the car on a country road in the middle of the night. Up a hill and around a bend, there was a crescent moon all orange and red and copper. It had just come up and looked so big that it seemed to be practically sitting right on the road at the top of the hill.

I made a very wobbly sketch (I wasn’t driving) and later at home made a better sketch that wasn’t tiny and obviously made in the dark in a moving car so I wouldn’t forget, but I had no idea what I planned to do about it.

Fast forward almost a year, and last Thursday I decided what to do about it and made this thing. This is the first time I’ve tried any kind of fabric collage, and it’s, um, a little rough looking.

Waxing Crescent

Sometime last year I signed up for Wendy Butler Berns’ Art Quilting 101 class on Craftsy because I wanted to try some stuff like this and had no idea how to go about it. I watched all the videos but didn’t actually try applying any of it until now. I was a little intimidated because I hadn’t done any actual free motion quilting at the time I watched the videos, but I’m over that problem at least. What got me thinking about it again was that I watched a couple of episodes of Sewing With Nancy while working on a project recently (Art Quilts: Fusible Collage Workshop Part 1 and Part 2, which are available to watch for free on PBS at those links until September 2014, according to the video page, though I don’t know if it works if you’re outside the US. Also, I had to watch with Chrome — in Firefox I got a weird error message) and decided I needed to do this right now. Does that happen to you? It does to me a lot, usually later at night than I should be starting a new project.

So I dug up the sketch and traced it and simplified it some and found fabric that I thought would work for the various parts and fused some Heat & Bond light to pieces. I also fused Craft Fuse to the back of the background fabric. Wendy Butler Berns recommends Decor Bond instead in the class, and it’s probably a lot nicer but I didn’t have any. Craft Fuse feels a little bit like fusing a thin layer of cardboard to the back, but it did the job and the finished piece is reasonably non-floppy.

I decided the fabric for the road was way too light — it was the darkest gray I had, and it turns out I have no black fabric that doesn’t have have white flowers on it — so I drew all over it with a black Inktense pencil to darken it. I also used that for the shadow under the moon and to darken the cornfield fabric (which was almost perfect but too bright). I used a wet q-tip to spread the ink around to try to keep it from getting away from me, which I’ve had happen with a brush. I also filled in the leaves on the cornstalks off to the left with colored pencil and set it with textile medium.

I did a yarn binding, which I learned in the class. I used some of my handspun. I used four strands and twisted them together as I sewed, then decided you couldn’t really see the yarn because it had squished down and did another round with four more twisted strands.

The parts I’m not thrilled with: The cornfield. Ugh. It’s hard to see in the photo what’s even going on over there. It was really, really hard to approximate a cornfield at night in this small a space (the finished piece is only 8″ by 6″) and I think it ends too abruptly. I should have either made the fabric more jaggedy or extended the plants up above the edge of the fabric some, which I could still do. I also kind of did the stitching all wrong in the ditch on the left and it’s not really working. In general I feel like it needs… something? But I’m not sure what, and it wasn’t really big enough to cram a lot of detail into.

I probably won’t actually bother to try to fix the cornfield — I’d rather move on. I think I might try another iteration of this thing sometime once I’ve had more practice at this, but bigger so the details are a little more workable and maybe with a bunch of embroidery.

1 Comment

  1. Ms Lottie
    July 11, 2014

    Hi Daisy.
    I really like that you tried something like this even though you’d never done it before, heaps of people wouldn’t have even tried!
    You’ve really succeeded in making the moon the focal point and I think that’s important in a small work.
    As for the cornfield, well, I didn’t guess it was a cornfield BUT you’ve abstracted the road and moon enough that the cornfield just becomes another abstracted shape and in that context, it doesn’t look wrong at all. In fact, I think it balances the moon nicely.

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