Dinner@8 Artists Exhibit 2014

LaflammeSelfiesm

I am happy to finally be able to share this quilt, “Selfie: a portrait of the artist as her stash.” It was made for, and has been accepted into, the Dinner@8 Artist’s 2014 exhibit “Reflection.” The exhibit is an annual one that shows at the Festival of quilts in Houston and is curated by Leslie Jennison and Jamie Fingal.

I began this project not really knowing if it would work. I have several other things in the works that I didn’t want to take time away from unless it was for a good cause, and I just didn’t know if I could pull this off. But, I liked the idea of playing off the popularity of a Selfie as a modern self portrait, and the idea of my peculiar fabric stash being a reflection of myself. I shared a few peeks early in the process on Facebook, but here’s how it all came together.

Selfie test

 

I took a lot of photos of myself (with my phone, of course), in the car, in the mirror, with the phone turned toward me… Duck lips were mandatory.

 

Selfie 1 pix2Selfie test 1

 

Next, I cropped the best photos and tried several degrees of pixellation in Adobe Photoshop. I ran these by my trusted friends who helped me decide which was most easily recognizable as a selfie. The photo on the left won, but those squares represent 2″ blocks which were definitely too big. Even 1″ squares on the right were too big for the facial details.

 

Stash strips

 

Once committed to the project, I spent four days cutting strips from each fabric in my stash and sorting them by value. I’ve been contemplating making a scrappy Trip Around The World quilt with my whole stash, so I cut with that secondary project in mind (no, I haven’t gotten to it yet).

 

Stash grid bw

I took lots of photos with my phone along the way, turning them black and white to check my accuracy. I put the strips in bags marked with corresponding value numbers to keep everything sorted and tidy.

 

Stash crazies

 

What makes this portrait special is that I’m a fabric omnivore. The concept wouldn’t be the same in all solids, batiks, or natural colored hand dyes. I had to cross my fingers and hope that it would still read as a portrait even if the fabrics were this wacky combination of hand dyes, reproduction prints, novelty prints, florals, Kaffe Fasset favorites, and whatever else that makes up my stash.

 

Selfie Grid WIP

 

My road map was a grid I made in Adobe Illustrator. I decided to use 1/2″ squares for the facial details, 1′ squares for most of the quilt, and 2″ squares for the distorted foreground area and flat background. I assigned a value to each pixel in my photo which would correspond to a bag of strips of the same value. Initially I thought I could pick one strip randomly from the appropriate bag and make this a kind of charm quilt as well. As it turned out, once I got going, it helped to use warm and cool colors strategically, keeping generally to green eyes, red lips, brown hair, and so on. And, while large, my stash isn’t large enough, so I had to use many fabrics several times.

 

Selfie WIP

And here it is as I built the face. I had a grid on my design board, but I didn’t include seam allowances, which rendered it pretty useless.

I chose to quilt the piece very simply as I wanted all the pixels to have equal importance. I didn’t want to try any overworked thread painting or end up with a nose that stuck out. This is all about the fabric.

I am so pleased with the final quilt! It was a great relief to see that my initial idea actually did work, and having it chosen amongst all the other fine art quilts for the show is good validation. Please, visit the blogs of the other accepted artists and look forward to posts on the Dinner@8 blog in the coming months. Maybe we’ll even see each other in person or in the cloth in Houston this fall.

 

11 Responses to Dinner@8 Artists Exhibit 2014

  1. Natalya says:

    dontcha just love it when all that painstaking work turns out so well and get accepted too?? So cool!

  2. Wanda says:

    WOW! I am blown away with this piece!!! It wasn’t obvious when first looking at it that you had used 3 different size squares so thanks for including some of your decisions and processes. WOW!!!!!

  3. cauchy09 says:

    wow, congrats!

  4. Marken says:

    Kristin, This is quite a quilt! Congratulations on the successful completion and the show acceptance. Thanks for showing us the process.

  5. Vivien Zepf says:

    Some absolutely incredibly work and detail, and final result!

  6. Ah, so that’s what you were working on with all those small bits of fabric. I love it! Best selfie ever. ;-)

  7. this is so freaking awesome, especially love the “artist as her stash” aspect of it. All that hard boring work of cutting the squares paid off big time.

  8. p.s. love the kawaii novelty fabric (unsurprisingly).

  9. Valerie says:

    That quilt is extraordinary. The shading is is sophisticated and it’s a real beauty.

  10. Carol Sloan says:

    I love this! I really enjoyed seeing the process that you went through as well. It’s fun to see the choices/decisions that each artist makes when creating such a successful piece. Congrats on the acceptance into the show!

  11. JaneE says:

    Fabulous! I am so inspired by this, especially as a fabric omnivore, myself.