A note from Vivika: While I'm on medical leave, my dog, Elvis, has been keeping me company. His presence--and frequent antics--lift my spirits. Pets are so important in our lives--and often in our fabric art--so today I thought I'd share this Q&A with Quilting Daily Community member Martha Tabis from 2010. Martha creates cheerful 12" x 14" portrayals of cats and dogs that are full of character and reveal a fondness for her four-legged companions. Here, she discusses the animals--and the techniques--behind her pet portraits.
QD: Please tell us about the subjects of your textile art.
MT: Wiley and Ivy, Boston terriers, were my family's first pets, so they have a special place in my heart.
QD: Each of the backgrounds has a very different, very distinct color palette. How did you decide upon these?
MT: The backgrounds reflect each dog's character. Wiley (on the orange background) was a four-legged wild man: energetic, rambunctious, playful. Ivy (on the hot pink background) could bounce like a spring and found mischief everywhere, but could also morph into a little lady.
QD: Please briefly describe the process/processes used to create these portraits.
MT: For all of these pieces, the backgrounds were created by overlapping raw-edge cottons, synthetics, satin, tulle and organza. I used cotton flannel for batting to minimize bulk. I used minimal free-motion stitching to set the background fabric in place before adding the figures.
|Ivy (top) and Wiley (above), rendered in fabric art
by Martha Tabis.
I used a photograph as the pattern, printed on tear-away stabilizer and also plain paper. I laid the printed stabilizer over my pieced background and stitched outlines of the animal's shape and major features. I used the plain paper print to cut out pattern pieces from stabilized fabrics, then fused the pieces to the background. I chose true-to-life fabrics for Wiley and more whimsical prints for Ivy, such as a dot print for the white areas of her face and a floral print for her black areas. The fun part began as I thread-painted each pet's features and shaded areas.
I made the fabric sandwich, then quilted the background, and outlined the figure one more time with stitching to add dimension. To finish front-view portraits, I bound the edges in the traditional way and mounted them to fabric-covered frames. For back-view portraits, I zigzagged the quilt edges and added decorative yarn.
QD: Do you have plans for future portraits?
MT: Friends and mentors liked the portraits and encouraged me to sell them, so I started a business this year doing custom work. I'm drawn to making these portraits by the appeal of interpreting a beloved pet in fabric. It's a joyous process for me.
There are many ways to make your pet the focus of your fiber art. In the new Quilting Arts Workshop Fabric Postcard Pets: Three Easy Ways to Make Mini Pet Portraits, Pauline Salzman shows you fast, fun techniques using fabric scraps and images of your pet. Watch a preview and pre-order your copy now.
P.S. Do you make pet portraits? Tell me about them!