Monday, December 25, 2006

California Dreamin'

It's Christmas at last, so I can finally post this quilt! This will be a long one. It all started with a photo of Brian that I took at Ano Nuevo State Park (just south of Half Moon Bay), which we visited in the winter/spring of 2005. It's one of my favorite photos of him:

Time passes. One morning I watch an episode of Simply Quilts in which the guest (sorry, I can't remember her name -- just that she lives in San Jose) showed her Andy Warhol style quilts of the same person done several times, each time with changing colors in the style of Warhol's Marilyn Monroe images. Then one day it occurred to me that Brian's photo would lend itself to that kind of stylization. Could I do it? The first step was to print the photo and see if I could reduce it to clear lines. After a couple attempts, this is what emerged:

More time passes -- not sure where to go from here. What kind of fabrics? How big? How many images? Would Brian like it? How would I do the applique? Summer passes. We are into autumn and I decide it would be a great Christmas present for Brian, or at least I hope it would be. I decide to fuse the fabrics and then do satin stitch, but my one attempt at satin stitch (on a Linus applique) was pretty dismal. Harumph. But after practicing on the word purple, I think it might happen. Meanwhile, Jocelyn has come to visit and we picked out fabrics (also posted earlier this month). So the plan is to make the quilt while Brian is in New York visiting his family. The good people at Sew Sassy have already told me to use a fusible interfacing on the lame (pretend there's an accent on the "e" -- it's not 'lame' as in limping) sunglasses, and I am ready to proceed. It's not as straightforward as simply switching the fabrics out -- the border fabric can't be a background, the shirt fabric touches not only its own background, but others, etc. -- it's a bit like solving Rubik's cube. Eventually I get it so the fabrics are never in the same place twice and never touch each other. Then I fuse and cut and lay out, and this is what I get:

I hate it. I think Brian will hate it. It's not that the fabrics don't work together, but I wouldn't want to look at them again and again. And it doesn't mean anything. It's an exercise -- what does this have to do with Brian???? I moan and groan. Finally, inspiration strikes! The photo was taken on the coast. Brian loves the California coast -- he sometimes visits Half Moon Bay before driving down to see the kids! Why not have Brian and the coast intertwined in this quilt? The design morphs from "Cool Brian" into "California Dreamin'" -- I just need landscape fabrics. So it's back to Sew Sassy.

I love these! There's ocean, sky (see the shining suns?), trees, sand, dry earth, and -- already in my stash -- pebbles. I need only 5 of the 6 fabrics and finally push aside the pebbles. I liked the idea of them, but I needed the warm color of the dry earth fabric to give the quilt a little zing, a little golden glow of the California hills basking in the sun.

There are problems, of course. I learn how hard it is to do a really smooth satin stitch around curves. I find that metallic thread can be temperamental. I become acutely aware that only an idiot or a masochist would ever choose to work with lame -- I won't go there again! But it gets done, and I like it. I really like it. I realize it's maybe even an art quilt. Brian may even like it. Except for the binding, it's done!

Doesn't it look like Brian?


Laurel S Holman said...

Cheri, this is so impressive. I'm just amazed at how quickly you have mastered so many quilting techniques. I think it is because you are not afraid to try new things all the time. Over the last couple of days I've been thinking about getting back to my quilting, more and more. I can't wait to have more time for it. Great job on this one! (Separately, someday you will have to teach me how to put more than 4 photos into a blog post. For some reason I can't get more than four no matter what I try! What am I doing wrong?)

JJ said...

WOW. this is incredible. i love it!