Posts tagged sharecropper

Making Progress


I have finally finished the appliqué on my latest piece. This piece was tricky to put together. I made it in sections — middle with figure, right wall, left wall, stairs, top of cabin, roof, and sand and rocks at the bottom. Each piece had it’s own vinyl overlay and as I put each section on to the last, I taped the overlays together using the pattern as a guide — and then used to overlays to align the appliqué sections.

First I appliquéd the middle section to white muslin — and then added the right wall.


Then I added the left wall.


At this point, I had a small section of stairs — forgot to take a pic at this point. It was a difficult join because it brought together the previous three pieces — but I made it work.

Then I added the wood pieces at the top of the cabin.


Then I added the shingles of the roof. This was an easy piece because there was almost all black between the cabin and the roof.


And finally I added the sand and rocks at the bottom.


All of this appliqué took about twice as long as usual. This is how it finally turned out.


And this is the back.


It is now pinned and ready to begin quilting. My fingers are sore so I probably won’t start until tomorrow. I still haven’t printed out my value painting & started drawing quilting designs on it, but I think the cabin will be very straightforward. There’s so much detail in the appliqué, I don’t know that there’s much room to show off quilting.

There’s also the issue of machines. I got so mad at my Viking during the appliqué that I wrapped it up and stuck it in a corner — and used a borrowed Janome to finish it. I am not as sure with the Janome to do the free motion quilting though. I may go back to the Viking for that. It doesn’t jam during free motion work — just during appliqué.

Complete Figure

North Carolina Insanity


For my current piece, I was inspired by another picture by Dorothea Lange. This one was taken in North Carolina — 1936 I believe — and shows a woman, probably a sharecropper, standing in an old wooden shack. It appealed to me.

And as I started to work on the first wall of the cabin — I wondered what I was doing. I do portraits. This piece will have a figure in it, but she is not the main focus of the piece.

At one point, I did come to the realization that she is the house. I saw something online by Alice Walker in which she opined the situation of a slave that didn’t have the opportunity to express herself creatively — and I knew that this was the woman in the picture. She is bereft of herself and as worn down and tattered as the house in which she stands.

This is the first value for the right wall of the cabin. It’s a stand-in for plaster. The light in the pic isn’t great — I was working on this at night and didn’t think to turn on my natural light lamp.

Right Wall value 1

This is the second value. It looks stark against the first value. It’s a batik that I bought to work as the background of my last piece, Worry, but it was too light so it ended up in my stash and works nicely here. Really — it does. Just keep going.

Right Wall value 2

My third value is a rusty brown. I had to search some to find this. I had some rusts in my stash but they were too dark.

Right Wall value 3

It’s a wall — I promise — although I’ll admit that I was getting disheartened. Sometimes you just have to keep going. This wall on the right of the piece is lighter than the rest of the cabin.

The next value is the first true brown — but there isn’t a lot of it here.

Right Wall value 4

And then there is the darkest brown. Still doesn’t look right.

Right Wall value 5 & 6

I did realize at this point that I needed to add the door facing — so I went back to the 2nd value.

Right Doorframe 2

And the 3rd value.

Right Doorframe 3

And the 4th value. Done. OK — it doesn’t look right to me either. The only thing missing is the black. There are many tiny lines of black separating the boards — and I had intended to do this in thread at the end — but at this point, I was disheartened and wondering if I had wasted my time — so I added the black.

Right Doorframe 4

Why does that make so much more sense? It just does. Without it, the eye just sees a jumble of shapes.

Right Side Final

And then I did her face. I had painted myself into a corner. I couldn’t use the same brown tones I had used in the cabin for her face, so I decided to try the more yellow browns.

Her face is tiny — maybe an inch and a half — and when I first did this, I took this pic and then threw it in the trash. But, looking at it again in my camera with a little more perspective, I thought it might work — so I fished it out and started making her clothes.

Woman's Face

I needed a color that would make her stand out but not look expensive. In the end, the blue would look best against her skin. This shows the first (very small) and second values.

Dress value 1


The third value shows more of the outline of her dress.


The fourth value brings it even more to life.


This is the fifth value — and at this point, I’m happy with her face.


And then there is a little bit of black to add in there. (Don’t worry about her ear — it won’t be that large once I add her hat.)

Dress value 5

Here she is in her hat and shoes. I chose gray which will be similar to the tiles in the roof. The background will be black and will fill in the space between her dress and shoes.

Woman with hat and shoes

And here she is complete. The tablecloth and table leg are suggested objects. The rest of it falls into shadow.

Complete Figure

As of today, I’ve done both the right and left walls of the cabin, the steps, and I’m almost done with the boards above the door and across the entire top.

I have to admit that I must be insane. This is a very complex piece. The applique is taking a very long time to do. And it is a true departure from the kind of work I normally do.

And yet I keep going. When I’m done with the cabin top — there are still a couple of rows of shingles at the top — and then rocks at the bottom. Hopefully all of this will make sense in the end.

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