Years ago—actually, in my teens—I took classes at Portland School of Art and spent hours in the dark room developing film and printing photos.
I had it all planned out: I would move my mother’s fabric stash (you see, the love of fabric is genetic!) and take over her corner of the basement to build my own photo studio and darkroom. I would learn how to capture light as it moved over the hills. I would create beautiful still life images. I would become a Great Photographer.
I don’t need to tell you that photo technology has changed dramatically since I was a teen. An artistic eye and good lighting still provide the foundation for excellent photographs. But digital cameras and photo-imaging software have made it much simpler to take and create great photos—even for someone like me who still isn’t sure how to use her phone camera.
Not only that, but digital imagery and products like digital ground make it easier than ever to print on fabric and create photo quilts.
One artist who continually experiments with how to make a photo quilt is Wen Redmond. I loved Wen’s Holographic Memories technique, where she printed two images of the same photo, one on sheer fabric, to create a 3-D effect.
Recently, she’s been playing with printing on textured backgrounds and color washes to give her digital imagery more depth and interest.
“My process involves spreading lightweight molding paste onto a stabilizer base. The molding-paste base, or substrate, can then be painted and fed into a printer to create a painterly photo thin enough to be sewn and manipulated. This technique works with most photographs and is inspired by the textured brushstrokes of an oil painting.”
Wen details her process in a new Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video, “Digital Imagery in Fiber Art: Using Textured Backgrounds for a Painterly Effect.”
In the Workshop, she shows how to create textured backgrounds, add color washes, and prepare the fabric or paper for your printer. Wen also shows how you can make mixed-media image transfers.
If you’re not completely comfortable with Photoshop®, don’t worry. Wen demonstrates, step by step, how to alter your image in photo-editing software to make the image clearer, eliminate distracting details, and to change or eliminate the color. I especially appreciated this part of the Workshop.
But mostly, I was amazed to see how the same image can have a completely different look based on the texture, paint, and photo editing.
Yes, a good camera and a sharp eye can make a great photo. But “Digital Imagery in Fiber Art” can help you make a uniquely textured, artistic photo quilt.
Wen’s artwork and techniques have gotten me excited about improving my photographic skills. It’s never too late.