Saturday, 16 May 2015

My First Portrait

This week marked 11 years since Pooch and I first met. Last year's present was the EPP Death Star. This year I wanted to see if I could top that. Pooch has always said his likeness should be captured and given to the Nation so I decided on a portrait. Here is how it came out:
Pooch Portrait in Fabric

I had been thinking about portraits in fabric since seeing this quilt in Yokohama last year.
Detail from Duck Face by Hiroko and Masanobu Miyama
Man, that was a good quilt show. All the photos are here. I knew I wouldn't be producing anything like the little girl but I thought I could try the technique out and make it my own. I started with a favourite photo of mine of Pooch in Tokyo, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a bowl of Ramen.
Process to create the Pooch Portrait
There were several steps I took in going from photo to portrait so I've captured them in the photo above and labelled them 1-5.

1. I opened the photo in an editing program (just the one installed on my windows laptop), cropped it to just the face and changed it from colour to black and white. I also played around with the light levels to make it clearer where the lightest and darkest places of the image were.

2. Using my portable lightbox (i.e. the window on a bright day) I traced the outline of the face and features and where, through the top sheet of paper, it appeared that the tones of grey changed. Laying the original and the tracing side-by-side I then added a few extra lines here and there to complete it. I photocopied this to give me the sheet to use for the next part.
Pooch Portrait in Fabric
3. This stage happened in two parts. First I spent a bit of time studying my black and white print out and decided which of my areas were the same shade of grey and which were lightest, light, dark, darkest and so on. I also decided to use one colour family for the skin, another for the hair and a third for the glasses. For the skin I ended up with S1 for the lightest part of skin, S2 for the next lightest and so on. Hair was H1 etc and the glasses were one colour so I left it at that. I then photocopied my labelled drawing onto a piece of freezer paper - that stuff with wax on one side that you can use for applique. I then went back to my original and coloured in all of the S1 shapes the same colour. I proceeded to do the same with S2, H1 etc so I now had a visual guide to what was what.

4. I had my freezer paper and now it was time to cut out what would become a huge jigsaw with some very tiny pieces. I cut out all the pieces and put them in small plastic bags - like the ones you use for jewellery findings - so that they couldn't blow away. All the S1's went in one bag, S2's in another etc. It was only at this point that I chose the fabric! Greens for skin, blue for hair, brown for glasses and a perfect equation print for the background. Looking at the plastic bags I judged how much fabric I needed for each of H1, H2 etc. In most cases it was only a postcard or less of each. I cut some bondaweb to the same size as the fabric and ironed that to the wrong side. Then I ironed the cut out pieces to the right side. I proceeded to cut out the pieces and assemble them on the backing fabric, ironing as I went. Once it was complete I added some plain white fabric for the eyes.
Pooch Portrait in Fabric
5. I was very nervous about ruining it at this point with hand or machine embroidery (I hadn't decided which to do) so I photocopied the fabric jigsaw and doodled on the top of the photocopy in red (hence the demonic look of 5). I made a few copies and tried different doodles before deciding to hand embroider the pupils. I then took the whole thing over to my sewing machine and freehand embroidered over the top with the machine's dogs down.
Pooch Portrait in Fabric
And that's it! The hair is my favourite bit. I showed the finished portrait to my sister and ickle niece via Skype. My sister said "Wow...can I have one?" which I thought was pretty much the best reaction you can have to something you've made. Then my ickle niece (two years old this week!) kept asking to see it again and again during the call and I realised that actually that was the best reaction you can have!

Has anyone else made a fabric portrait? I'd love to see it if you have so please leave me a link in the comments. Thanks!


4 comments:

Carol said...

This turned out amazing...love it! I've never attempted to make one, but this sure looks tempting!

Kathy said...

Awesome!! But I think you're in trouble now, cuz how are you going to top this one?!!

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

It turned out wonderful!

Ynot said...

How cool!!! You are very inspiring! I'm itching to make a fabric portrait now except I have no time. Sigh. Still, I love seeing what you are making!

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