So after finishing Minerva and going through my Quilt National rejection, I needed a new direction in my work. So I was flipping through photographs that I’ve taken, and I found one of two horses in full military gear that I took during the Gold Rush Parade in Dahlonega last year. I knew instantly that it was going to be my next piece.

It’s the first piece in a while that I haven’t made for a show theme, and I gave zero consideration to marketing it. I am making this simply because I want to, which appears to be feeding my creative muse in a positive way.

And almost unconsciously, I have made this piece huge — which is funny, because two years ago, I would have made something that would fit the size of my table. I suppose I felt the need to make these life size. So the general size of the pattern that I’ve made is 48″ long by 69″ or so wide. And let me just say that making a piece in this scale is daunting. I have broken it up into sections to make it easier — I’m making each horse separately — and for each horse, I make the face, and then the rest of the head, and then the back, and then the neck, and then all the leather, and then all the silver hardware. It still causes unique difficulties. I’m not sure that I can appliqué it in the same way that I usually do — certainly not all at once — maybe not even one horse at a time. And there are so many pieces in even just the first horse, I’m considering doing what I did with the auction piece I did for IQA, Loyal, and using a straight stitch around the shapes instead of my usual zigzag — maybe even incorporating it into the quilting in the same way I did Loyal. I’m even considering covering the piece with tulle like Susan Carlson does, to provide another layer of protection for the raw edges.

But all of that discussion in my head is not while I’m in my studio. In my studio, I am in the zone.

For this piece, the first 2 values are very light — in fact, I probably could have dispensed with the lightest and just used the batik here. It’s hard to discern where the first value even is.

Horse Value 1 and 2

And this shows the 3rd and 4th values. The 3rd value is a batik I’ve always struggled with, but I think it works well here.

Horse Value 3 and 4

For the 5th & 6th values, I purposefully went into navy blues. Painters sometimes use blues for shadows, and I love the richness it gives the piece.

Horse Value 5 and 6

And then I had to construct an eye. In the photograph, there’s a piece of leather to the right of the eye that mostly obscures it. However, it’s important for the piece to have a successful eye. It’s a large part of what draws in the viewer’s eye. So I found a pencil and drew out what I thought would work.

Horse Eye

And then I stepped back and really looked at it. I wanted to make sure that the fabrics were working before I continued — and they’re just not. There is a definite value change between two and three, but the step is too great. The horse looks more like a palomino with spots. So I went back to my fabrics and pulled out a honey yellow. Much better, and I can see the first value now.

Horse Value 2 change

I recut all the pieces and carefully peeled away the fabric that wasn’t working and re-fused it back together. And then I started on the neck. All the spaces are for leather bridle, harness, et cetera.

Horse Neck

And then I went to work and stopped taking pictures. But as you can see, I worked one section at a time so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. I had fused down all of the horse pieces before doing any of the leather or silver. Here is the horse completed with the leather.

Horse with Bridle

And then here it is with the silver. The only thing I really questioned was the chain running from the top down to the mouth. There really wasn’t an easy way to do it. I may go look for some silver braided trim to use instead.

At this point, she’s finally off the flat table and pinned up on my design. She’ll be the far left horse — that’s why so much of her body is in deep shadow. The forward horse on the right will have a lot more of the brown detail.


Horse with Silver

I have a few drafting things to finish before I start cutting out the front horse. I also think that I’ll change the horse fabrics a little. I don’t think I’d have enough fabric to make the other one completely anyway. It’s amazing that I was able to get this far without making a trip to the fabric store — well, except for the silver.

And yes, this is silver spandex, just like the gold spandex that I used in The Last Supper. This time I was smarter and fused a non-woven interfacing to it before cutting it out to help control stretch, and then I added the fusible. Last time, I only used the fusible and it was harder to control.