Sunday, October 09, 2011

Elephant Reunion : 3CS Journal Quilt Challenege - Technique of the Month

Elephant Reunion
Thread Sketch on hand-dyed fabric
Size is about 9 x 12 inches.

Notes on the Making :

The language of friendship is not words but meanings.
~Henry David Thoreau

I started with this picture of 2 elephants showing their affection for each other. It's really a very moving story that I had seen on Nature about an elephant who was kicked out of the circus due to an injury . A small zoo in Alabama picked her up, but for 25 years, she never saw another elephant. Recently, they moved her to an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee where she could be with other elephants. She actually KNEW one of the elephants there from her days in the Circus and they had a heartfelt reunion. They say elephants never forget ... ;-)

First aired in 2000 "The Urban Elephant" brought viewers the touching story of Shirley and Jenny, two crippled elephants reunited at the Elephant Sanctuary in Howenwald, Tennessee.
To learn more about the Elephant Santuary visit here:
The Elephant Sanctuary : Hohenwald Tennessee

Thanks to A Brit in Tennessee for reminding me of this story! I was so moved by their reunion, that I wanted to do a thread sketch to honor their long-time friendship and affection for each other.

On Friday morning (before Quilt Camp), I used my light box, and worked up a sketch based on the Elephant image above.

On Friday evening (at Quilt Camp), I transferred the sketch to Golden Threads quilt tracing paper. You can see it pin-basted to the fabric and batting, which works as stabilizer. I tend not to include the backing fabric at this stage, as the backs can get pretty tangled and ugly after all this thread work.

Drawing out the design twice is actually a great help to getting the design into my brain BEFORE I start to stitch.

After a brief warm-up, I started in on the stitching, with simple black thread (regular cotton on top, and a lighter polyester in the bobbin suitable for embroidery). I don't want so much thread build-up on the backside. Whereas a thicker thread on top helps to cover more ground, and fill in the shapes better, faster.

The background fabric is a piece I snow-dyed way back in February 2009--It said so right in the corner. ;-) It's good to keep such notes!

It took about 7 hours on Friday to make this little quiltie. That includes starting with the sketch and stitching time. I actually had it done by 11 pm!

Lessons Learned : I spent an inordinate amount of time picking out the bits of quilt paper. This method works great in other situations, but not so good here with the dense stitching. Perhaps water-soluble stabilizer might have been a better choice (? I've had trouble getting all the stabilizer out without it becoming al-gummo, so not sure that is the answer.) Perhaps simply drawing the sketch onto the fabric would have worked, too?

Detail of one of the elephants.
If you look closely, you can see some of the tracing paper ... Still need to add a few little beads for the sparkle in their eyes.

The binding is a simple envelope, so the backing in relatively "clean."
I am very pleased with how this turned out!

Read more about Thread Sketching as The Technique-of-the-Month on the 3 Creative Studios Blog. I'll definitely be doing more of this!


My Sweet Prairie said...

Nice! The only bad thing about thread sketching is that I can't stop the flow of ideas for all the things I want to try! ; ) I mean really... anything is possible if you can draw it, isn't it!? This is great, and a good story behind it too. Thanks for putting it up on Flickr ; )

Anonymous said...

I just read the current newsletter from 3 Creative Studios and saw that you won second place in their contest. Congratulations. Can't wait to see your entry and hear all about it.