As I’ve mentioned before, I was lucky enough to have two pieces in the recent Sacred Threads show in Herndon, VA — Beach Guardians and The Bowl Judgments. It’s a biannual show and I haven’t participated in about four years — so I was delighted to find that the show published a book with all of the pieces from the show. Not having the ability to see the show in person, it gave me the chance to enjoy the exhibit from home and read all of the artist’s statements with time to study them alongside the work. You can order a copy of the book here.

Sacred Threads book

Then a couple of weeks ago, I received a manila envelope in the mail. Inside was this new copy of Machine Quilting Unlimited and nothing else. I don’t have a subscription (although I might have to get one now — it’s really well done) — so I was confused until I saw the little strip at the top that said “Sacred Threads 2013.” I flipped to the article for the exhibit — and Beach Guardians was one of the highlighted pieces.

I was really stunned. I have never had my work included in a magazine before. I felt like I had reached a milestone. My 15 minutes anyway.

Machine Quilting magazine

I have not been writing much on the blog lately. Part of me thinks that to have a blog, you need to write at least weekly. Another part of me really despises blog writers that fall off subject or write about nothing just to get a post out. I try to prepare something interesting and present it in a large enough piece that you can see progress. If I just showed you one day at a time, the blog would show everything in reverse order and it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting — to me anyway.

Once I had the girls back in school in August, I started thinking about my next piece. I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I started sifting through pics I took in the Spring and came across one that I really liked of a golden retriever. She is looking over her shoulder at her owner and has such a look of love in her eyes. If I found it captivating, maybe someone else would too.

I spent about a week drafting her. I typically bring the pic into Photoshop and reduce it to values only, adding lines of separation between differing objects — like the dog from her harness — or even her eyes and her nose from her fur. Then I spend a lot of time drawing in Photoshop using my Wacom tablet pen. Not only do I clean up the light scatter, I deepen shadows, add shadows to create definition, redraw the eyes, and simplify shapes.

From there, I continue the drafting process by pulling the final pattern into PosteRazor as a BMP file & scaling it to what I wanted. In this program, I can then tile print. Then I take the puzzle pieces, cut off the margins, and tape it back together. Now my pattern is back together — but larger.

Then I outline everything with an ultra thin black Sharpie. It bleeds through to the back giving me the reverse image that I’ll need for WonderUnder templates. I’ll have to go back & re-draw the lines on paper overlap — but it’s otherwise done. And FINALLY, I place a layer of see-through vinyl over the top of the pattern, tape it down, and trace it. I can then sew the vinyl to a piece of muslin (using a teflon foot that won’t stick) to use as my guide when I fuse the pieces down — or I can work on a very large fusing sheet and tape the vinyl pattern over that.

This is the beginning ¬†showing the first & second value. The first value is almost impossible to see as it’s white like the muslin background.

Value 1 & 2

The third value gives you a better idea of the face.

Value 3

The fourth value shows the outline of the entire dog.

Value 4

The fifth value begins to give shadows and therefore definition to shapes.

Value 5

The sixth value goes into an orange. There is only so far you can go with yellow — even cream. The color that shows for this value will depend largely on what is placed next to it. In the pic, it looks a lot more orange than it actually is.

Value 6

The seventh value gives more depth and tones down the orange.

Value 7

I debated having an eighth value — I though about just making it black — but between yellow and orange, I had room to move into a dark brown cinnamon. There isn’t a lot of it anyway.

Value 8

Now the eyes. The pic normally gives me useless information here. I’ve found it best to draw them myself. The pupils are wide — and the irises are brown but has more gray in it than the brown tones in her fur. The outline of her eyes is black. You have to have a deep contrast here to feel the depth of the eye and most dogs can easily take the rich black for that function.


The nose is an experiment — although I’m leaning towards keeping it. You would think that all the fur around the mouth would match her other fur — but it doesn’t. It’s shades of back and gray.


Seeing a full picture of her, I think the nose makes sense. The gray and the black have to work together to give the impression of a snout — which I think they do.

The open patches around her shoulder are for a harness — which I’ll work on today.

Without Harness

I ripped off the orange under her left eye — I found it distracting.

I’m not sure about the light gray at the bottom of the mouth — I’m still considering it.

I made the entire piece without extra around the edges — which I should have done since I put her right on the muslin. Making her this way, I should have fused her to a fusing sheet where I could detach her & place her on a background. I wasn’t thinking through it — I was too excited to get to my favorite part — the cutting! I love the meditative process of fusing the shapes, cutting them out, and layering them until I start to see recognizable shapes.

I’ll have to think around what to do to correct this.