The White RavenI have finally completed The White Raven. The bird was wonderful — the Tower of London was tedious — but I think in the end that it all came together. It’s ironic that I now have such a creative flow while constructing portraits and my more difficult moments are in the backgrounds.

I used a stacking type of stitch while quilting the raven to give the impression of feathers — it was interesting to see how the white thread changed the character of the darker fabric shades. I am becoming completely reliant on Isacord thread for free motion quilting. I can run my machine at a high speed and the thread is less likely to shred. It’s also available in a huge selection of colors. A thread run before I start quilting is almost a must for me at this point.

The Tower was not as much continuous line quilting as I would have liked. There was a lot of stopping and starting — so it took much longer to do — but hopefully I’ve created the impression of the Tower in a minimalist way. I still wanted the focus to be on the raven.

The background was also difficult because of the Tower peaks. I started in the middle between two towers and echo stitched a wavy line upwards — but once I reached the top, I attempted to echo stitch back down between another set of towers. Any quilter knows that you have to quilt from the inside out — especially if you’re quilting densely. By quilting from a less dense to a more dense area, I created some ripples that could only be resolved by ripping out all of my quilting and starting over in the correct direction — from the more dense outwards to the less dense area.

The White Raven detailAt the end, after I had washed it, blocked it, and added the label, I went back and added more quilting in the raven’s eye. It’s the focus of the piece and it did not have enough quilting relative to what was around it. I didn’t want it to sag over time.

The raven isn’t exactly like the original — I had to take liberties with the beak especially — but I think it is definitely reminiscent of the pictures of Mike Yip. His photographs of the white ravens in the Vancouver Islands are really wonderful.

Adding the Tower of London gave the piece whimsy — a story — which I think adds to the visual interest of the piece.