Make Textured Photo Quilts with Digital Imagery

17 Sep 2012

Years agoactually, in my teensI 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.

vivika hansen denegre with wen redmond quilt
Look what I found!
Here I am with one of Wen's pieces
in the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen shop in Meredith, New Hampshire.
Didn't happen.

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 photoseven 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.

digital imagery fiber art by wen redmond
digital imagery fiber art by wen redmond
Two examples of Wen Redmond's textured fiber art pieces using digital imagery.
"Printing a photo on a textured background lends an unusual dimension to fiber art," says Wen.

"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.


P.S. Tell me, how do you take pictures? A) Digital camera, B) Phone, C) I still use film! Leave your answer below.


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Comments

on 18 Sep 2012 7:01 AM

I love my digital camera. I love digital imagery on fabric and have just discovered someone that prints on a large format printer....opens up a whole new world of opportunity.

reynoldsjm06 wrote
on 18 Sep 2012 9:59 AM

I love my Cannon, but my iPhone is with me always and take more photos with it. Judith, Texas

Cathy MMMM wrote
on 18 Sep 2012 10:37 AM

I really like the digital camera also.  I am learning Photoshop Elements 7 to manipulate my photos.  I used to be the one that took photos at all family events.  I remember having to set the film aside until I could afford to have them processed!  Sometimes it was a surprise from the past!  

on 18 Sep 2012 11:32 AM

Hi

I take my pictures with a digital camera.

Will the new Wen Redmond DVD be available for download/

thanks

Lynne

CrisW2 wrote
on 18 Sep 2012 2:42 PM

I discovered Wen and her innovative, cool experiments a couple of years ago. When I get frustrated or bored with my work, I just ask myself : "What would Wen do?" She is the best! I use my digital camera or a scanner to make images of my work. The college where I teach (Paul Smith's in New York State's Adirondack mountains) has a couple of great large scanners if I have a larger piece. I'm also working with a friend who aspires to do professional photography.

michelleh7 wrote
on 18 Sep 2012 7:28 PM

I love to take my digital camera (lumix) whenever I can and I take photos of things I think will be interesting. It has a great zoom and i even took photos of the moon with some clouds and they turned out great. Once on my computer I continue to learn new techniques on photoshop and change the effects. So much fun.

on 19 Sep 2012 8:46 PM

I love taking photographs and are the basis of my fiber art!  I use A) Digital but I keep my phone camera handy for times I'm without my good cameras.  Also I love my phone for sending quick picks to social media and sharing via email/texts.  Fast and easy!

Raganne wrote
on 20 Sep 2012 7:29 PM

I use my digital Canon camera all the time. After years of using a film camera, which I still love to use, I discovered the ease of a digital camera.

klkchuck wrote
on 22 Sep 2012 9:23 AM

Hello, Vivika.  Great article.  I use a digital Olympus C-770.  I've recently experimented with printing photos on cloth for the first.  The results are okay, but I'd like to see more dimension within the photo itself, not just by simply adding embellishment to it after it is printed.  I'd like to try this technique to print a close-up photo of a poppy that's just been waiting to find a spot in my art quilt.  The photo needs texture.

evelyn@60 wrote
on 22 Sep 2012 9:26 AM

i use my nikon d40 and d3100 for digital images. they r like an extension of my hand. i take them everywhere i go, to the grocery store, target, walmart, church, everywhere. u never know when a photo op will turn up. i take pictures of people, places and things. printing them on fabric is awsome. i am having the time of my life.

SweetG247 wrote
on 22 Sep 2012 1:10 PM

I take photos with anything I can put my hands on. Remember the Flintstone Camera (a monkey stone carving inside a stone box)?  Yep, I'd even put that monkey to work with the right smile, sunrise, or precious moment. Can't wait to try my hand at combining my two greatest passions: photography and textiles. Thanks for teaching us!

SweetG247 wrote
on 22 Sep 2012 1:20 PM

I take photos with anything I can put my hands on. Remember the Flintstone Camera (a monkey stone carving inside a stone box)?  Yep, I'd even put that monkey to work with the right smile, sunrise, or precious moment. Can't wait to try my hand at combining my two greatest passions: photography and textiles. Thanks for teaching us!

SweetG247 wrote
on 22 Sep 2012 1:20 PM

I take photos with anything I can put my hands on. Remember the Flintstone Camera (a monkey stone carving inside a stone box)?  Yep, I'd even put that monkey to work with the right smile, sunrise, or precious moment. Can't wait to try my hand at combining my two greatest passions: photography and textiles. Thanks for teaching us!

RosemaryK@3 wrote
on 26 Sep 2012 11:14 AM

Digital camera and phone

I take photos of everything because it's free. And print the good ones.