Thursday, January 22, 2015

Picture Purrrfect: Pet Portraits of Watson & Olive

Meet Watson and Olive:  2 pretty kitties captured forever in fabric applique portraits.

Watson is the beautiful grey kitty with white patches and olive-colored eyes.  Olive is the speckled cream, auburn, and grey kitty. 
My friend Sarah asked me to make applique portraits of her sister's cats as a Solstice gift last year.  It was a last minute job I decided to take & managed to complete just in time for gift-giving!!  Since I was away from my sewing machine at the time that I made these portraits, I ended up making these kitty portraits by hand.  The applique pieces are all hand-stitched.  Embroidery floss and decorative stitching added another dimension to the portraits.  To my surprise, the handwork was not all that time-consuming as I thought it would be.  In fact, it was quite soothing to sit, sew, and have a movie running in the background.  And during the stressful time before the holidays, the slow, soothing process of handcrafting these portraits was just.....PURRRRRRRRR-FECT!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Stitchin' the Peacock Electric

I stitched the Peacock Electric.

It's been five Summer Solstices ago when I painted peacock feathers across Sarah's back.  
My work was hastily made and barely measured up to my high standards of personal artistic taste, but Sarah & I were in a hurry.  The pressure was on for us to catch up to our pack!

Sarah's cellphone buzzed every 20 seconds with text notifications from a friend watching this particular Saturday morning's events from the sidelines. In real-time tracking mode, street names were relayed via text to Sarah, marking the coordinates of the cyclists making their way to parade during the Solstice Celebration.  One moment they were at the corner of this & that, and then 30 seconds later they'd already zoomed down 5 blocks, stalled, catching their breaths at a stoplight, flashing their brilliant colors to anyone & everyone who caught sight of their spectacle.
Copper, blue, and, purple were the paint colors that Sarah and I bought together at the theatre supply shop a week prior to this special occasion.  We were working girls on a budget and these colors could be interchangable for both of our costume ideas.  Once we made it to the register to purchase them with our hard-earned $$$, it was like making a pact that we'd go through with this! We made the commitment and now there was no turning back!  We would bike the Solstice Parade- decked out only in our painted finery! 
In what seemed like an eternity, and with plenty of sponge applicators full of paint to show for it, we were speedily covering ourselves in our 'painted-on' costumes.  The nagging buzzing of the cellphone text relays communicating the whereabouts of the cyclists was a signal for us to wrap it up and head out on the road.  
But wait!!!  Sarah was missing the most crucial part of her costume----- her Peacock Feathers!!  

In less than 5 minutes, I applied 3 (puny) plumes of peacock feathers up Sarah's back with the swiftest brushstrokes possible using the colors from our limited palette.  I stood back to view my work and thought, it is what it is.  Not as detailed and brilliant as I wished, but not bad for a 5 minute hustle.  And before I could put the paintbrush down, we were out the door, on our bikes, and speeding down Leary Ave to catch up with the rest of our flock.

Since then, I've always thought of Sarah as 'The Peacock'.  It suits her well-- she's a fashion design instructor, and a bold & beautiful redhead, to boot.  Peacock Blue gorgeously compliments her fairness and strawberry hair color.

Let's fast forward to December 2014 (that's Sixty-eight Moons later), I wanted to make a special Winter Solstice gift for Sarah.  Something to commemorate the Peacock with more permanence.  Something that wouldn't drip off in the shower.  And sew The Peacock Electric was stitched!

For my fabric choices, I wanted to capture the warm, vibrant, electric colors of Summer Solstice in hopes of melting away any trace of winter blues for Sarah.  She now lives in a cold & snowy clime that endures blizzard upon blizzard in the winter.
**Special note--The buffalo check fabric in peacock & deep royal blue (pictured above at the bottom left) was upcycled from a hand-me-down flannel shirt.  It made for the perfect backdrop of my Peacock Electric piece, also adding a cozy, homespun feel to the piece.

Next, I chose some skeins of embroidery floss in spectacular colors to add more dimension to my stitched piece.

And then I embarked on my project.  The appliques of the peacock feathers were stitched down first, while I made suffolk puffs (fabric yo-yos) from a green tonal stripe to serve as the feathers framing the body of the peacock's silhouette.

Rows and Rows of embroidery floss in rainbow color order were chain-stitched by hand around the peacock body silhouette.  Straight stitches of contrasting embroidery floss were scattered throughout the plumage of the peacock's feather display, creating lots of movement and excitement for the eye.

She comes in colors ev'rywhere......

she's like a rainbow!