Here’s my latest quilt, Do Dragons Like Cookies?
It measures, um, 39 3/4″ wide by 32 1/2″ tall. Thought I’d throw that in. Some folks like to know about sizes.
A closeup of some of the stitching. Don’t look too closely at the craters on the moon. They aren’t scientifically accurate. They’re more along the lines of “stitched in a desperate, manic fashion after drinking far too much coffee”.
I’ve been thinking of coming up with an obnoxious label for my style of stitching. We have McTavishing and thread painting and I don’t know what else. I’ve been toying with names like StitchGanic (a bad combination of Stitching and Organic), DesperationStitch, and my favorite, ResentStitch. What do you think? Could I market a book on ResentStitch®? I’m envisioning chapters with themes like “What to do when the coffee runs out,” “Is there a problem? Just sew over it,” and “Yes, I totally intended it to be that way.”
Whee. More stitching.
And … even more stitching. I have nothing nice to say about the process of sewing the snowflakes. Let’s just say that the closer the wings got to the little girl’s body, the harder it was to make out what was printed on the fabric. And I designed the @#$% thing. In several places I ended up making my peace with the Devil’s Thread, aka clear polyester monofilament.
What the heck. I’ll throw in a couple of views of the reverse. Some folks like to see that sort of thing. Just pretend that I went over the surface with a lint brush before taking the photo, okay? Pretend you don’t see stray threads here and there.
This piece is notable for being the first I can remember where I avoided the Valley of Despair. (The Valley of Despair occurs when one has been working on a project for so long that one can’t remember the beginning and one can’t see the end.) That may be because I broke the project down into half hour increments this time. Each time my timer went off, I made a hash mark on paper, then got up and stretched. It made a world of difference as far as time tracking, taking care of my body, and having a tangible measure of progress.
About the surface design
The surface design is a 3D rendering printed on cotton. If you’ve looked at my work recently, you know the drill: you create or acquire geometry on the computer, apply textures to it, light it, and have a computer calculate what the scene would look like.
Here’s the scene layout in wireframe mode. Hopefully that makes it clearer what I mean by “geometry”.
I originally intended this piece to be a lighting study. I thought it would be fun to do a scene inspired by paintings such as The Lanterns, by Charles Courtney Curran, and Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, by John Singer Sargent. However, instead of a bunch of little girls with lanterns, I used a dragon and a fairy holding a firefly. I can’t remember why. Probably it was late at night and I was getting a little loopy.
Here are the models I started with:
This little girl is Skyler, offered by Daz.
This is what she looks like when she’s loaded into a scene initially. Boom. No clothes, no hair, just the computer equivalent of a rag doll for you to pose and dress and so forth.
This is the Millennium Dragon LE, also by DAZ.
The scene took shape pretty quickly. I threw some wings on the little girl and had her kneel on a rock, offering the firefly to the dragon. Mind you, I’m not sure why one would offer a firefly to a dragon. The dragon in this initial version is large and definitely on the menacing side, so perhaps the young lady decided it would be smart to offer whatever she had on hand.
Paddling around in one’s skin can get chilly, so I put some clothes on her. I chose the Morphing Fantasy Dress (MFD) from Daz because of its versatility. It’s a very basic dress, and one can do a great deal with it by modifying textures. The MFD has been around for years, so there are tons and tons of textures available, things people have created and offered for free out of the goodness of their hearts.
This test render shows the scene lit by the firefly she’s holding in her hand. I was experimenting with some different camera angles to see if there was something more striking than the first view I’d come up with. I like this angle quite a bit, but decided the one from the side was more striking.
The dress has a fern surface applied. One of the things I like about the MFD is the availability of free textures. One can download anything from a belly dancer’s outfit to a meat dress to a princess dress and swiftly try out different looks for one’s scene. Even if one doesn’t use a particular texture, one can get a better sense of what may work.
In this case, since I was working with a fairy, I downloaded a fern fairy texture. This one was offered by a user I know only as Chohole, who has shared many, many textures with the community.
Back to the original camera angle. The firefly has been replaced with a cookie, and now the scene has the moon as a backdrop. (Courtesy of the Iray Worlds SkyDome Super PAK)
Our story is beginning to come together. In the way of children since time immemorial, our fairy is offering a treat to a wild creature she wishes to befriend. Hopefully the dragon will like gingerbread!
That dress isn’t quite right, though. It was nice for previewing the fairy look. However, we’re no longer in a woodland setting. She has snowflake wings, icy white hair, and the whole scene seems quite cold. Perhaps a snowflake dress would be better?
This dress texture was courtesy of a lady named Trixie, whose ShareCG profile says “I’m just a ranch lady, raising cattle … this is my hobby 3D textures”. And very nice they are, too. Thank you, Trixie!
I’ve curled the dragon’s tail around so that it curves toward the fairy. That felt more balanced, plus I didn’t like having the creature’s tail lopped off by the side of the picture.
At this point I decided I wanted to make my own texture for the dress, one which would mimic the snowflakes on the girl’s wings. Here I’ve overlaid the lace on top of a template offered by SnowSultan. If one builds the graphic in layers in Photoshop, it’s straightforward to use the template as a guide, then turn it off, flatten the file, and save the result out as a jpeg for one’s texture.
Fairy with custom snowflake lace texture. I had to make several custom textures, actually. It turns out that when you’re rendering out a scene at 6300 x 5400 pixels for printing on fabric, many textures are too low resolution to look decent.
At this point I was also trying some different camera and moon positions. I do like the way we see reflected moonlight on the water in this test render.
However … surprise! When I placed the moon behind the girl’s head, the composition became much stronger.
That’s one of the advantages of working on a computer and being able to save a thousand different versions. You can do some experimentation apart from whatever you may have sketched out or planned.
I have no idea how this scene ends. Will the dragon accept the cookie and become her friend or will it chomp her hand? Not all fairytales have happy endings, after all.
Speaking as the mother of a twelve year old boy, I do hope the fairy’s vaccinations are current.