Saturday, February 12, 2011

R is for Rarebird- The making of a letter

   


R is for Rarebird.  A Rarebird for my friend, Mere.  My best friend Mere has been living in the The Netherlands for almost 4 years now (she moved over to marry a lovely Dutch guy).  Life as a newlywed and newbie to a foreign country's culture has produced some pretty interesting experiences for her.  Each time we skype, Mere has a funny tale about her encounters with the Dutch people.  A different kind of gal, Mere has really immersed herself and adapted as best as she can to this interesting culture filled with quirks.  From her stories, most Dutch people are astonished to find out she's from the USA.  In fact, some of the Dutch people don't know what to make of her.  And hence the reason why Mere calls herself a "Rarebird".  Here's my plushie tribute to Mere, the Rarebird!  
original sketch

sketch is enlarged; tracing paper overlay to create pattern templates
Fabric choice was chartreuse polar fleece for the body of the Rarebird.  Loving how the textured fleece creates a "puff" in the applique.  Because my applique was complex with intricate cut-outs, I backed the fleece with a lightweight fusible tricot interfacing.  I used white to back the light colors and black to back the dark colors.
The cutting madness begins!
After cutting, next is gluing!  I use minimal glue as a way to hold the applique in place.  I have found that if I back the entire applique in glue, it wreaks havoc on my sewing needle when I go to stitch!
Stitching away.....using a zig zag stitch:
stitch length 1.5 ; stitch width 3 on my 30 yr old New Home Sewing Machine
Here is an up-close view of the stitching detail, fabric selection, and backing.  For the applique- I used polar fleece with a 2x2 rib knit underlay (in dark teal) and orange felt for the bird legs & beak.  I added some hand-stitching in red-orange to add a handmade feel.  I used black sweatshirt fleece for the applique background.  Loving this fabric- it's sturdy, yet not too stiff when stitching.  Also creates kind of a "black velvet" feeling allowing the applique to "pop", visually.  Oh....and check out that crazy backing fabric that I used for the pillow-  it's a calico with chartreuse crabs.  Bought this from Jo-Ann's years ago....reminded me of something Japanese/ Kawaii.
The end result!  Can you see the "R"?
My inspiration to "bring a letter to life" was due, in part, to my fascination with a pioneering hip-hop & graffiti artist named Ramm: Ell: Zee.  A mysterious figure & integral force in the early hip hop scene of the late '70s/ early '80s NYC, he "painted the town"..and the subway trains in the city with his graffiti.

Rarebird would best describe Ramm: Ell: Zee.  He was not of this world, or even this universe.  He held some pretty mind-blowing ideas about graffiti writing & letters.  Read at your own risk his theories about letters of the alphabet entitled "Gothic Futurism" here.  I'm not even going to attempt to interpret them....we'll let the artist, himself, speak:





Sadly, in June 2010, we lost Ramm: Ell: Zee.  This Rarebird will remain an inspiration to many!











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