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New Quilt Project - Animal Portraits

Last year, I took a portrait class at Quilt Trends with Maria Elkins. If you don't know who Maria is, I'd suggest you take a look at her website She's awesome and all should bow down to her and her craftiness. She taught the class on portraits and showed us her method of making portraits out of fabric. My little giraffe came out pretty cute but the quilting really helped it out giving it some extra details. Here's some before/after pictures.

So this was the class that got me thinking about making an animal portrait quilt specifically of endangered animals. At first, I thought I could maybe do them as black/white thread art type pictures but discarded that idea fairly quickly. I can't image working with nothing but black thread on white fabric for literally months on end. Then, I thought I could simply do what I did for the giraffe portrait and use fabric. This wasn't a bad idea but I do want to get it done sometime during my lifetime. 

What I can really do well is draw. Paint? Not so much but its close enough to drawing that I usually think I can pull it off. So I decided to draw the animals instead, paint and then quilt them. But I've never done that before but I know someone who has. Yes, Maria Elkins. Maria's quilt "Windblown" was done using the same technique. If you've never seen it take a look on her website. It's beautiful. 

Next, I decided to buy some supplies including, prepared for dyeing fabric (PFD), paints (All Purpose Ink by Tsukineko), paint extender, markers and new brushes. I took a piece of the fabric and outlined a 10x10" square, found a picture of an Amur Leopard and got drawing. The outline is rough with focus on the eye, nose and mouth area and I used a good 'ole No. 2 pencil so nothing fancy. After that it's all about color and spots and that's nothing to do with a pencil but I added the spots/dark areas so I'd know where they go. The leopard will be my test piece.

The next step is to make a chart of the paint. If you've never painted before sometimes colors are not what they seem. They're super dark or light or simply not what you were thinking it would be. So make sure you make a color chart. 

I think the one that surprised me was the sand. I think of sand as a tan color and this color came out fairly dark. I think it should be re-labeled as wet sand since that makes me think of a darker color. The chocolate also seemed a bit more red to me than brown. So that's the type of thing you want to know about before you start on any good fabric. 

This color chart also serves to show how much your paint is going to run on your fabric.  This didn't run or bleed at all which is good to know, but that isn't going to help me shade or blend colors. Fabric isn't like a slick watercolor paper. Its porous and paint is just going to soak through. So, I bought a paint extender. 

Its called Ink Potion No. 9. I bought a small bottle just to see how it works and lightly spritzed the bottom fabric of my paint chart and my brush. I got two colors and very quickly applied the paint. The paint immediately wicked and bled a little and I was able to scrub the paint together blending them and getting rid of any hard paint lines.  Awesome! 

Now, I just have to wait for this to dry and see how hard it makes the fabric. Some extenders are not kind to fabric once they dry and I don't want to quilt on something hard and scratchy feeling. My medium is fabric not sandpaper.

Just another note about the paint or ink. It's permanent with heat not when it dries so technically it'll wash fine if I really mess something up but I don't know if it really washes out or not.  Sounds like that will be another test. 


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