In July, my Grandma Betty showed me this photo of my cousin's three-year-old daughter and I could not stop laughing. K's squinting face, her taped broken glasses, the toddler belly all just cracked me up. I knew right away that I would try to make a quilt from it. My favorite quilts to make are the ones that keep me chuckling as I work on them.
Only once have I tried a pictorial quilt, a joint quilt with Aynex Mercado. Aynex's half was great, my part was...not great. I knew this was going to be a challenge for me.
Even though there are lots of quilters that make pixelated quilts including Sandra Bruce, Jack Edson, and my sew mate Audrey Hyvonen, I consciously decided not to look at how they approach pixelated quilts and instead studied one of my favorite painter's work - Chuck Close. I read several books about Close, watched a documentary, and looked closely (see what I did there?) at the details of his paintings.
After reading the above quote in a children's book called "Chuck Close Face Book", I realized that I could make a pictorial quilt if I broke it down into small pieces and only worried about one 2" square at a time.
Once I got the go-ahead from K's parents I had the photo blown up to 40" wide. It is printed on vinyl which is why the colors are so sharp. I then marked off a 2" diagonal grid across the photo.
I started working with the fish, because frankly it seemed like the safest place to start. I have no emotional connection to the fish, and it is small enough that if I mess it up I can trash it and start over. I cut lots of 2.5" squares of bass colored fabrics and place them in their approximate locations.
Once I have a general idea of the color scheme, I look at each individual square and make a tiny composition out of it. Some squares are one fabric, others have 4 or 5 fabrics appliquéd on top of each other.
Using similar paper piecing and appliquéing techniques that I used in the Mississippi Meander quilt, I make each block with whichever technique seems easier at the time. I figure that once I have it together and quilted the techniques will blend together into a cohesive unit (that's optimism there, folks!). One thing I am not doing is fusing the pieces together, for no other reason than I don't enjoy working that way.
Once I have a chunk of squares completed, I sew them together. That makes me feel like I've accomplished something.
Here is a detail of K's shirt collar and neck where you can see the appliqué details.
This is where the quilt stands as of this morning. I still have the hard/terrifying parts to do (face and hands!), but I'm taking it slowly and taking breaks when my brain hurts. I wanted a challenge, and I got it.