Archive for the ‘3D’ Category

Be grateful for the good problems/Art Nouveau Cyborg

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

This post is dedicated to my dishwasher, which has decided that it’s going to run continuously without actually washing or rinsing dishes. That’s what I call a “good” problem. It’s annoying but fixable. In the meantime, I have soap and a sponge and I can wash dishes by hand.

It’s so much better than having the furnace or the clothes washer break. I really don’t want to burn books or furniture to keep the house warm, and I don’t have a river handy so I can go beat my clothes clean on a rock.

Broken dishwasher. Good problem.

Also, as it happens, broken sewing machine = good problem. That chip I replaced has done wonders; my Bernina thinks it’s brand new now. I wish I’d made the repair sooner. However, that’s hindsight. When you have deadlines to meet, you tell yourself that it’s better to have a machine that sort of works part of the time than a machine that doesn’t work at all. It feels scary to jam a soldering iron up your machine’s delicate parts and risk breaking it even more.

Now, of course, I can slap myself on the back and chortle “Hey! It worked out fine!” But I didn’t know that at the time.

Today I sent this off to be printed on fabric. I’d been holding off on some projects because of the sewing machine issue, but now that seems to be resolved.

Its working title is Art Nouveau Cyborg, although Art Nouveau Android would be more accurate. I need a better title, something which highlights the fact that the only living thing, in some sense the only “real” thing in the picture, is the hummingbird.

This piece harks back to Art Nouveau, which is a style inspired by natural forms and structures, such as the curved lines of plants and flowers. (Paraphrasing/ripping off the Wikipedia entry on Art Nouveau.) However, my subject matter is quite the opposite of natural, an artificial creature against a background of circuitry. I thought the contrast would be interesting.

The composition is  a blatant ripoff of inspired by the works of Alphonse Mucha, particularly his use of ornate circular frames.

Image provided by Art Renewal Center Museum, image 4417, Public Domain

This piece, Dance, was a particularly helpful reference.

As the lines in green show, I traced right over key portions of Mucha’s composition in order to come up with the layout for my own. I used circuit lines as design embellishments rather than butterflies and flowers, but the arrangement of the background is substantially the same.

The foreground figure is a purchased model, Pix-Synx, whose geometry was created by Pixeluna. I posed and rendered her in a 3D program.

Here she is, rendered and ready to layer in with the rest of the elements of the design.

I fiddled around with several poses before arriving at one that seemed decent.

This pose reminded me of something I saw at the Louvre the week before last, only not as classy.

Mmm. No. I’m not trying to make android porn.

This just worked for me somehow. There was something a little awkward and innocent about it, and when I introduced a focal point, the hummingbird, the picture began to come together.

Ah, that hummingbird. I think I bought the geometry for this thing for about $1 on sale. It’s posable, and it’s one of my favorite models.

Since I’m working in 3D, I can change the texture on objects. I seriously considered making the hummingbird out of chrome or brushed metal. I really liked the way it looked and the way it popped against the background. Unfortunately, having a metal bird would change the message of the picture, which is about the hummingbird being the only natural thing there.

This is the texture I ended up using. Not my favorite, but it contrasted with the background nicely.

When I began drafting the picture, I had no idea what kind of background texture to use. This is one of my false starts, tread plate. I think I made this with Filter Forge. Have I mentioned before how much I love Filter Forge? Yeah. Only about a thousand times.

Here’s another Filter Forge-generated texture. For a brief instant in time, I thought about giving the picture a steampunk flavor.

How about a nice steampunk porthole? (Also created in Filter Forge) That would automatically create the circles one sees in a Mucha composition.

Filter Forge gears. Yeah, no. Interesting but too cluttered.

In the end I referred to photos of blue circuit boards. I sampled dark and light hues from a photo, made a cloud texture in Photoshop, then motion blurred it to create these streaks. That gave it a nice subtle texture.

All the circuit board ornamentation in the picture is made with Photoshop brushes, the Cyber Circuit Brushes by Orestes Graphics. I applied them in separate layers, tinkering with opacity to emphasize or deemphasize them. It’s a delicate balancing act. If the circuit designs have too much contrast, they’ll fight with the foreground for attention and the whole picture will look cluttered. However, if they lack contrast or they’re too dark, they’ll fade away during printing.

Now I wait and see what comes back from the printer. It’s always a surprise, and it always changes some more after I sew on it.

 

“Coffee Break”, part one

Friday, March 30th, 2018

This entry walks through the creation of this image, “Coffee Break”, which will be printed on fabric and transmogrified into an art quilt. As usual, click on images to enlarge if desired. (One of these days I’ll get around to fixing the site’s style sheets and layout. One of these days. Probably about the time I get my sewing machine repaired.)

 

As with much of my work these days, Coffee Break was created with a combination of 3D graphics and Photoshop. Here’s the layout in wireframe mode, showing the models in the scene.

 

Assets

If you work in 3D, you either have to make your own models or find them readymade. I did the latter in this case, using purchased models of a fairy, wings, hair, and the forest in which she’s relaxing.

The fairy model is the digital equivalent of a posable doll. I like to credit those who provide or create the assets I use. Alas, this model is merely credited as a “Daz Original”, so I have no idea who made it. It might have been created by a Bulgarian artist working in a shed, a corporate slave at Daz headquarters in Salt Lake City, or someone else entirely.

Regardless, I appreciate it. When I need to make a specific figure, I do, but otherwise the process is so time-consuming that it’s nice to be able to get figures “off the shelf”.

 

This fallen tree is part of a construction kit that includes trees, vines, and little chunks of terrain. The pieces can be arranged as one pleases to create a custom environment. It was created by Stonemason, aka Stefan Morrell, an artist whose models and scenes are much beloved. He’s an interesting person to read about in his own right:

 

Arranging the scene

I began by arranging the fallen jungle tree in a sunny field, then plunking my creepy bald fairy on top of it. The resulting image is mildly disturbing. It’s a good example of the adage “you have to start somewhere”.

One of the nice things about working in 3D is that we can rapidly try out different lighting, figure poses, models, and camera setups. We can keep the elements that have potential, such as the tree and the fairy, and change the things which aren’t working.

 

The second iteration of work. The fairy’s pose looks more natural; I’ve moved her left hand so that it’s draped across her thigh instead of stiffly hovering above the tree.

She now has hair and wings and her eyes no longer have a hideous staring quality. I’ve added some trees in the background, so we have a sense of place. The scene now feels more natural than having a fallen tree sitting out in the middle of a meadow.

However, we’re not done. The lighting is poor and the waterfall background behind the trees isn’t a good addition to the scene.

 

I’ve added a light source in the upper lefthand corner of the scene, beyond the edge of the picture so we can’t see it. The light gives the scene some contrast and dimension.

Her hair shows up better beneath the light, but the color is uninteresting.

A tree in the foreground gives the scene some depth. I’ve also turned on the depth of field setting for our virtual camera. Our fairy and the tree she’s sitting on are in focus. However, the trees in the foreground and background aren’t. This helps draw us into the scene.

The fairy now has a book, a fancy-looking volume bound in leather with gilt embellishment. This helps develop the story behind the picture a little. We aren’t just looking at a random bored fairy who’s sitting on a log; we’ve caught her in the midst of doing something.

The type of book tells us something about the fairy: she appreciates classics. Perhaps she’s even reading a volume of fairy tales. If she had a stack of magazines or a trashy-looking paperback with a studly bare-chested male elf on the cover, that would tell us something different about her.

 

The fairy’s hair is now red, which is a little more interesting than the blonde.

I’ve added a coffee cup, which adds to the story: we’ve interrupted a fairy who is taking a coffee break or simply trying to have a quiet moment or two to read. Perhaps she’s been trying to dig into her book for ages, but when she sits down for a break at home, her kid starts bellowing about the oh-so-stressful mission he just completed in Far Cry 5 for the ElfBox One. She feels like her head is about to split open and some not-very-dainty things are about to erupt from her delicate lips, so she’s flown off into the woods for some quiet time.

I debated with myself about what kind of cup to give her. The possibilities are limited only by what one can download or create. How about a coffee cup shaped like a cat’s head or a feminine china cup painted with roses? As with the book, each option tells us something about the fairy. However, I didn’t want the cup to become a distraction, so I opted for something simple and white.

As is often the case with this kind of work, once you fix a few problems and rough in the major parts of a scene, other issues become obvious. At this stage I noticed that her back wing was at an angle, which makes it hard to see. That got added to the list of things to fix for the next iteration.

 

Here’s the final scene in wireframe mode. As my husband puts it “No, it wasn’t faked in Photoshop. It really is a scene put together in 3D.”

 

The entire scene as viewed from the top. We can’t see the fairy, but she’s at about the middle of the picture, hiding beneath the trees.

 

Here’s the scene viewed from top with the trees turned off and some color turned on.

The essential components of the scene:

  • Camera circled in pink. This behaves much like a real-life camera, with settings including f-stop, focal length, and depth of field.
  • Fairy, book, and props circled in blue
  • Light source circled in yellow. 3D programs offer many options for lighting scenes, such spotlights and point lights (similar to a light bulb). I usually find them annoying to position and adjust, which is no doubt a character flaw on my part. Instead, I often plop a plane in the scene and make it glow as though it’s a light.

 

Our fairy scene with a very minor adjustment to back wings, so they’re more visible.

I rendered this at 6300 x 5400 pixels, 150 dpi. That’s large enough to fill a 42 x 36” piece of fabric. So I’m done now, right? I spent hours putting this scene together and I let it render for 20 hours. Surely it’s ready to send off to the printer?

Ha ha ha ha ha. No. In some ways, the fun has only begun.

 

Post production

Look for problems

Maybe other people don’t have trouble with their renders. I always do. Always. Always. Even when I inspect the scene over and over and over again before rendering, I find problems. Sometimes they’re bad enough that I make adjustments in the 3D program and do another render. Other times I address them in Photoshop.

Here’s a typical problem, stuff poking through other stuff. When I zoom in on the picture at 100% and inspect it, I see moss and a leaf poking through the book. That might not be noticeable when the entire image is the size of a postcard, but when it’s blown up large enough to go on a wall, it’s a problem.

Ideally, one would find that kind of thing before blowing a day on rendering. However, if not, one can sometimes fix it after the fact in a program such as Photoshop.

 

Brighten up the scene

The picture looked a little dim for my taste, so I brightened it up. To do that, I opened the picture in Photoshop, duplicated the layer, and set the blending mode of the duplicate to Color Dodge at an opacity of 50%.

One can try different blending modes and opacities. It’s a good experiment; sometimes there are happy or at least interesting surprises.

 

Add a background

Right now the background behind the trees is black. That’s okay, but I wanted just a little visual interest so the scene would feel more realistic. However, I didn’t want the background to be so cluttered that it would fight with the foreground for attention.

I began with a large version of this picture, which is somebody’s imagining of a jungle. (It’s part of the Heart of the Jungle background set.)

 

The jungle picture after a gaussian blur in Photoshop

 

I could get the jungle background in my picture by adding it to my 3D scene, starting a new render, and waiting another day for the computer to finish that set of calculations.

However, I’m lazy. It’s faster to mask out everything in the foreground of my picture and drop the background in with Photoshop. Using a mask such as the one above is a nice way to isolate elements and make edits after the fact. It’s often faster than rendering the scene again.

Daz users: see my entry “How to make masks in Daz Studio/Iray”.

 

Here’s the scene with the jungle background dropped in. It’s a subtle change but it adds a little life.

 

Adding steam from coffee

Our next task is to give the coffee some steam. Again, one can use props and do this directly in one’s 3D program, but I prefer to do it in post.

The steam is a graphic from Textures.com, a wonderful resource for those who do 3D or other sorts of graphic work. I’d post a photo of it, but I’m concerned about violating their terms of service. Here’s the link.

 

I’ve pasted the smoke/steam on a separate layer. Its blending mode is screen, which makes the black background of the smoke disappear without further effort.

 

Next I stretch it, rotate it, and erase the parts I don’t want in the picture. Voila. “Steam”. Only you and I know that it’s actually incense smoke which someone was kind enough to photograph and share.

 

Here’s the scene with steam added. It’s a small touch but it adds a little life.

 

Adding light rays

I want some light rays. They should come from the upper lefthand side of the screen, mimicking our light.

There are plenty of tutorials on making light rays in Photoshop. Here’s a good one.

 

I begin by making a new layer in my Photoshop document, setting my color palette to black and white, then rendering clouds (Filter -> Render -> Clouds). I then go to the menu bar and select Image -> Adjustment -> Threshold and hit “okay.” (All of this is in the tutorial I linked to above, btw.)

If I’m feeling wild, I’ll select a portion of the graphic with my marquee tool and resize it/expand it so it fits the screen. Different black-and-white patterns yield different results, so it’s good to experiment with them.

 

Finally, I take the layer with the black-and-white graphic and go to Filter -> Blur -> Radial Blur. I put the center of the blur near where the light source should appear, set the blur method to zoom, and fiddle around with the amount until I’m happy. There isn’t a preview mode on this blur, so sometimes one has to CMD-Z or CNTRL-Z, go back to the radial blur filter, and try a new blur amount.

This sort of looks like light rays. Sort of. But now I have a new problem – how to get the light rays in the picture without obscuring the items in the foreground.

 

Yep. It’s mask time again. This time I’ve made a mask which isolates the fairy, her props, and the foreground tree. I apply that as a layer mask on the light ray layer and set the layer blending mode to soft light. After I play around with the opacity, I end up with this:

 

Adjust brightness balance

It feels like the scene is most of the way there. However, the tree at left is bright and distracting.

I’ve muted the foreground tree out with a layer mask. But – oh, great – now the tree behind the fairy looks too bright. Shall I make another mask for that?

 

No. I’m sick of fiddling around with masks. It’s brute force time. I grabbed the burn tool and darkened the tree by hand.

 

Adjust eyes

Her eyes seem a little dark. She’s a fairy. Even if she’s having a rotten day and just wants to drink her coffee, she should have sparkly eyes.

 

Here are her eyes after using a dodge tool on the midtones. Now she looks depressed but with, you know, sparkly eyes.

 

Darkening of graphic during printing process

My goal is to print the coffee break scene on fabric. However, from sad experience, I know that when I send out images to print on fabric, they often come back dark. Here’s an example from a different project.

 

Check out that boot. That’s the boot in the file I sent to the printer, with subtle highlights and surface texture.

 

Here’s what I got back on fabric, an amorphous blob of black. Guess what? The fabric printer doesn’t do subtle highlights, at least not if they’re on the dark end of the color range.

 

Similarly, here we have a pile of rocks. They are distinct, individual rocks, happy in their grayness and individuality.

 

Aaaaand here’s what we have after printing on fabric. Another black blob. I can use thread to fix some of this, but it’s vexing.

No, it isn’t unusual for prints on paper to look different from the images one sees on screen. However, this is the most pronounced case of that I’ve ever seen. Perhaps its related to the fact that we’re printing on fabric, not glossy paper stock.

Regardless, anything at about RGB 70/70/70 or less will be black. Thus, the next step is to go through the scene with an eyedropper tool and the info box displayed. If I don’t want something to turn black, I need to adjust it so it’s brighter than 70/70/70.

 

Here’s a shrunk-down version of the file sent to the fabric printer. It’s 6300 x 5400 pixels, 150 dpi, which is large enough to print on a one yard length of “Cotton Poplin Ultra”.

 

Here’s the printed fabric. See any difference? I sure as heck do. As usual, the darkest tones in the design are even darker more after printing on fabric. In particular, the light rays I so carefully, lovingly put in are all but invisible. I’ll see if I can pep them up through my thread choices, but it’s annoying. I specifically corrected for that. However, I didn’t correct enough. Let the designer beware!

Next stop: quilting.

How to make masks in Daz Studio/Iray

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

This is a quick note for people who use Daz Studio, in case they’re looking for a simple, lazy method for creating masks in Iray.

This question came up for me when I was watching Val Cameron’s Fantasy Art Master videos. He does quite a bit of work in post, rather than hassling over getting everything just the way he wants it in the 3D package. To do that, he frequently uses a mask to isolate whatever element he’s interested in.

However, in the videos I saw, he was using 3Delight rather than Iray. That raised the question of how to make masks in Iray. Perhaps it’s common knowledge; it turned out to be fairly simple, once I messed around with it. However, when I Googled around, I didn’t find the information I needed, so I thought I’d pass it on.

Here are the steps we’re going to go through:

  • Delete or hide the objects we don’t want in the mask
  • Delete or turn off sources of light
  • Change background color so that it contrasts with our scene elements (may not be necessary, but it’s handy)

Here’s our starting scene. Our character, Aspen, is casually hanging out by a giant sphere, wondering why she’s been plagued by premature hair loss.

We want to isolate the character and the sphere from the background. This is a simple scene so there aren’t many extra elements. However, I do need to turn off the floor.

Here we are with the floor turned off.

We now want to remove or turn off all light sources. I confess that I find this much less straightforward in Daz than in other packages I’ve used, such as Blender. Illumination can come not only from obvious lights in the scene, but from light-emitting planes, sky domes, camera head lamps, and the environment.

Note that if you want to emphasize some aspect of the scene in post, you can light it as desired and proceed with making your mask.

I’m still in perspective mode, so I’m going to create a camera, select it, then turn off its headlamp.

By the way – click on the images if you need to see them larger. I need to go revise the style sheet to make that obvious and, um, I’ll get around to that sometime. Yeah. I’ll revamp the site any day now. Probably over Christmas break, when I’m revising my latest novel, creating new artwork, and replacing the ugly-arsed light over the kitchen sink.

The environment is another possible source of illumination in this scene. To address that, I’m going to turn the environment intensity down to zero.

Looks like I was successful in turning off all sources of illumination. Unfortunately, I can’t see a silhouette of my scene. That may not be important as far as the render – the scene should render out against a transparent background regardless. However, it’s nice to be able to double check our setup.

To address that, I’m going to change the background color of my viewport from black to white.

Now I can see my figures silhouetted against a white background.

When I render this out, my scene is silhouetted against a transparent background. I save it as a png in order to retain transparency. To make a classic black/white mask, I can pop in an appropriate background color in Photoshop.

Here’s a more complex scene, first with a transparent background then with a white background. I had to turn off quite a few light sources to isolate the desired elements. However, it was still a fairly straightforward process.

Hope this helps someone. Happy rendering!

Where is the story?

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Succulent, 38 x 32″

Here’s my latest, Succulent. It’ll be at PIQF next month. I managed to finish it just before the submission deadline, battling my sewing machine the whole way. (And have I taken my machine in for repair yet? No, I haven’t. However, I’m still whining about the fact that it’s broken despite the fact I’m now past deadline and could do something about it. It’s a good thing I’ve never claimed to be wholly logical.)

It was interesting. By interesting, I mean that I really hate doing work at the last minute and I’ll do almost anything to avoid ending up in that situation. However, I had a firm commitment for another piece that HAD to be done by a certain date – for a top-secret exhibit, natch – so this one had to be postponed for awhile.

Most of my recent work has been 3D-based. Succulent is a little different, although it’s still based on the output of a computer.

Back in 2009, I saw a plant about the size of my hand and absentmindedly took a photo of it. I think I was at Balboa Park in San Diego at the time; the place is covered with plants.

That photo had a nice abstract quality that has fascinated me over the years. I finally sat down with it and ran it through some custom Photoshop filters to increase saturation and simulate a watercolor effect. I had the resulting image printed onto fabric at Spoonflower, then did the usual batting and stitching and muttering that transforms such things into art quilts.

This piece used thirty-three colors of thread. I have no idea how that compares to my usual work; it isn’t something I normally focus on. My philosophy is that you use however much thread and however many colors you need to, and it usually isn’t worth dwelling on. I always use a lot of thread, but I don’t deserve a freaking medal for using up an entire manufacturing plant’s worth of polyester. When people look at a piece, it either speaks to them or it doesn’t.

However, occasionally – very occasionally – it is interesting. In this case, it’s a reminder of the complexity that can dwell beneath apparent simplicity. When I look at  the quilt, I’m surprised at the fact that the design was able to bear up under so many different hues. Perhaps it’s because the shapes are so simple and bold.

Now I’m dwelling in the land of “what’s next”? My usual work mode is telling stories, either visually or with words. Succulent was a bit of a departure from that. It’s a pretty piece, with its play of light and color, but there isn’t much of a story there other than “look closer and pay attention to the world around you”.

I don’t know which story I want to tell next. This happens after every project, and I hate it every time. It doesn’t help that I can hear that Chuck Close quote in my ears, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”

In the meantime, I’ve been taking an online course on fantasy artwork and making things like this:

A winged naked guy is hanging out on a cloud bank. He’s naked because … let me think about this … there’s no laundromat nearby. He tried hauling a washer up there, but it kept falling through the clouds, plus there was no real water supply to plumb it up to. Try not to dwell on the other sanitary implications of that situation.

When he wants to go on a date, he flies down to Target and buys a nine-pack of tighty whities. Not that he needs to, because there’s nothing up front to hide. No geometry, if you get my drift. Which, I guess, really makes dating pointless … having 2.4 flying kids and a flying dog isn’t in this guy’s future unless he adopts. Never mind. Forget I mentioned it.

How many times have you seen images similar to this, with a naked dude or a scantily clad woman hanging out by a cloud bank? Yep. A lot. That’s why I won’t be taking this image any further and making a quilt out of it. That is, unless I get desperate and can’t think of anything better or more original. Then I’ll make up a nonsense story about how the idea came to me in a dream.

This image wasn’t too hard to put together, but the filthy little non-secret about 3D/CGI is that if you work in that medium, you’re going to be fiddling around. Always. Always. Always. I have never had a project that didn’t have at least some minor issue. I’ll want a different texture on one of the models, or the lighting isn’t quite right, or something will outright go to pot and I’ll have to figure it out. I’m a perverse creature and I enjoy that process, but I know some folks don’t.

 

Here, for example, we have one of the early surface designs for Game Over. I thought my little plastic polar bear should have a little plastic scarf. However, it looked awful. Delete.

 

In this snippet of a scene, a bare-chested hottie was groping away at a willing female. Later I discovered that the hottie was so enthusiastic his fingers were jammed right through the woman’s belly. I wish I’d inspected the scene more closely before poking the render button.

 

I was trying to come up with a new hottie. (I don’t remember whether this one is a stock character or something I modified.)

That thing on his head was supposed to be hair. Unfortunately, the hair texture didn’t get applied to it, so it looks more like a shower cap. Perhaps that’s why he appears so unhappy.

 

I thought that creating a realistic velvet texture for one of my scenes would be AWESOME. Too bad it looked like a green porcupine. There was another one that looked like mottled decay. Wish I’d saved a picture of it. On second thought, perhaps it’s best that I didn’t.

 

An early version of the surface design for Gusher. Gosh, wouldn’t it be swell if oil really spewed out of that oil well? It should be straightforward to simulate with particle effects, right?

Whoopsy. That took a few iterations to fix.

 

Lately I’ve been toying with idea of a series inspired by the paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. You know the ones … the paintings where he has chicks hanging out on uncomfortable marble furniture by the water, waiting for dudes to come home on fancy-looking boats.

That should be straightforward to whip up, right?

Oh dear. Her legs are poking straight through her dress. Gee whiz, I can’t fix that in the software I was using. That means I’ll have to take the woman and her dress into a different piece of software.

Or … hold on! Change of plan! Instead of her wearing a Hellenistic dress, what if she has on a vaguely apocalyptic outfit? Think “Mad Max Visits the Mediterranean”. And, um, she’ll be waving a gun around. She hasn’t had her coffee yet and she’s annoyed about the guys on that ship in the background cruising around in her bay. When they clamber up to her marble gazebo, she’ll shoot them all.

Or not.

None of this is working for me. Guess I’ll go make some more naked guys with wings. Maybe that’ll be my new series. Naked Guys with Wings. It’ll be a gender swapped version of Victoria’s Secret angels.

Tidbits

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

MothersDay

 

Thought this was fun. I made this with some pretty minor variants to a Photoshop filter I found in the Filter Forge library, “Little Swimmers”. The filter was made by a user known as geekatplay. Nice filter; good of the person to make it available on the library.

 

TORlogowhite500

I’ve mentioned the Threads of Resistance exhibit a couple of times. It’s an exhibit created “to protest the Trump administration’s actions and policies”. The exhibit is in the jurying process, but they’ve posted the submitted works and artist’s statements, which is a classy touch.

The group received over 500 submissions to the exhibit, which is a massive, impressive outpouring of work and concern. I have no idea what percentage of those will be in the exhibit, but posting them online lets all of the artists’ voices be heard.

 

I’m working. I guess that’s an understatement. I’ll probably wait to post about most of it until it’s done, but this is fun:

 

Scar0

 

That’s a portion of a texture map that’s getting applied to a 3D model of a guy’s body:

Scar

 

It’s been fun, or at least interesting, learning how to make scars. I won’t go on a rant about diffuse maps versus displacement maps versus blah blah blah. Let’s just say that my little scheme to find a free photo of a scar and use that to build a skin texture didn’t pan out. Yes, there are stock photos of scars. I am also too cheap to use them.

The “good” news is that there are plenty of scars on my own body and, if I can keep from gagging when I glimpse my pot belly, I can even use them as references. So this hunk is going to get covered with an assortment of scars from my C-section, appendectomy, and gall bladder surgeries. He may end up with a “dashing” C-section scar across his face, masquerading as a dueling or battle wound.  Shhh. Don’t tell.

Do Dragons Like Cookies?

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

DoDragons1000

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.

 

The stitching

GirlAlone1000

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.”

 

DragonAlone1000

Whee. More stitching.

 

SnowflakeAlone1000

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.

 

GirlReverse

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.

 

DragonReverse

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.

GirlDragon10Wireframe

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:

Girl

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.

 

dragon

This is the Millennium Dragon LE, also by DAZ.

 

GirlDragonV1

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.

 

GirlMFD

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.

 

GirlDragon1_5

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.

 

GirlDragonV2

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?

 

GirlDragonV3

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.

 

DressTexture

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.

 

GirlDragonV4

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.

 

GirlDragon1000

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.

This and That

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

GirlDragon1000

Tentative title: Do Dragons Like Cookies? (click image to embiggen)

This is the surface design for the newest quilt-in-progress, AKA the latest thing I’m griping about. And gripe I shall. When I stitch, those snowflake wings and the lace dress on the girl are going to give me fits unless I use what I call The Devil’s Thread: clear polyester monofilament.

 

GusherDetail

Yeah, I finally tried that stuff. I used some on Gusher, in the area with balls and cups and such. I feel like it was a devil’s bargain. Yes, I preserved the fine shading of the cups and styrofoam containers and I didn’t have to do fifty thousand thread changes. On the other hand, the texture of the thread itself is yuck, like something I’d cut out of a vacuum cleaner roller with a utility knife. It glistens. It doesn’t have the same soul as the thread I normally use. I know it’s irrational, but I’m terrified that it’s going to spring loose from the quilt and attack someone.

If I’m going to spend weeks or months hunched over a sewing machine, I want the end result to have some poetry to it, even if the quilt depicts a drowning polar bear or an automaton crapping out plastic cups. There needs to be a good reason I chose to make a quilt rather than printing the same design out on flags to sell at a roadside stand. The stitch needs to contribute to the design. Ideally it would be essential. I’m not so sure I’m accomplishing that with The Devil’s Thread.

 

GirlDragon10Wireframe

Anyhow … on to the surface design of the fabric. This is a 3D rendering. If you’ve followed my work in the past, you may be familiar with the process. Create geometry on a computer, barf some textures on it, set up fake light sources, and let the computer figure out what that might look like in real life. If you look at the wireframe, you can see that the scene is extremely simple.

This time I used some purchased assets (3D models) and posed them rather than making everything myself. The little girl is the Skyler model from Daz and the dragon is the Millennium SubDragon LE. I posed them in the Iray Worlds SkyDome.

Much like using The Devil’s Thread, using purchased models is something I wouldn’t have done once upon a time. Instead I would have laboriously spent days creating every blasted model myself, and I would have made sure that everyone around me was miserable while I did it. I also would have bragged about it afterward, and when the thing hung in a gallery, no one would have understood or cared.

Using the Daz assets was nice. I hate to admit that, because I think some of their marketing verges on pedophilia, and there are a couple of things on their site that I find obscenely racist. (Note the afro-wearing gorilla shown in one of the shots for this product. Seriously. Do we really need to go there?)

That said, sometimes it’s nice to grab a pre-made model and get on with it. Daz has a lot of models. Often they’re pretty darned cheap, especially if you consider the labor that goes into them. (Afro-wearing gorillas notwithstanding.)

 

LaceDress

Look at the lace on that dress. I thought I was being real clever when I created that texture. “Oh, it’ll match the snowflakes her wings are made out of,” I told myself, “It’ll be pretty! Visual poetry!” Yeah, it matches. It’s pretty. It’s also going to be horrible to stitch. Either I use The Devil’s Thread on it to hide mistakes or I spend the next two months hunched over it while I stitch with a magnifying glass.

Stay tuned.

 

blueHair

In other non-news, I dyed my hair blue.

Sometimes I hear people complain, and justifiably so, about becoming “invisible” after one turns a certain age. Let me tell you, when you go around with a head full of long blue (or purple or hot pink) hair, you are no longer invisible. People smile and chat with me when my hair’s blue. I get great customer service. My kid likes it. Sure, I get the occasional stinkeye and backing away reaction too, but that’s also fine. It lets me cull out the people who are superficial.

The main reason to do something like hair dying, though, is because you enjoy it. I do. I could care less about growing fingernails and half the time I don’t remember to put on makeup, but seeing blue hair when I look in the mirror cheers me up.

 

HerStory

Here are a couple of new works, celebrating the lives and hard work of Maria Goeppert-Mayer and Mary Blair. They’re slated for Susanne Miller Jones’ HerStory traveling exhibit, along with scads of works from other artists. It should be a good exhibit; the subject matter is juicy, and the other works I’ve seen have been creative and heartfelt.

I admire people who, to use a hackneyed phrase, “do things to make the world better”. It’s easy to plotz on one’s La-Z-Boy and complain, but quite another thing to conceive an idea and bring it to fruition.

Susanne’s doing just that. She’s conceived and spearheaded several exhibits on thought-provoking topics. That gives artists like me a venue to speak our minds, and it makes for provocative, interesting viewing. One of those exhibits, Fly Me to the Moon, is currently traveling the country.

 

MQU

MQU_2

The latest Machine Quilting Unlimited has a few of the works from Fly Me to the Moon. Yep, that’s my rocket in the second shot. Also, check out the articles about Betty Hahn’s work and on pictographic quilting, which are pretty darned cool.

 

OurStory

Susanne is currently accepting entries for a new exhibit, OURstory: Civil Rights Stories in Fabric. Its goal is to “tell the stories of disenfranchised people and their fights for equal rights”. This is another great topic, and very timely.

The deadline is March 8, so it’s coming up pretty quickly. Fortunately, all one has to do by that date is submit an idea, not the actual quilt, so there’s plenty of time to register.

http://www.susannemjones.com/ourstory-call-for-entries/

 

TORlogowhite500

On a related note, The Artist Circle, a group of well-known quilt artists, is accepting entries for an exhibit to “protest the Trump administration’s actions and policies”.

One only has to skim over the news to see matters of concern – climate change, fake news, education, racism, and on and on. This exhibit is an opportunity to speak out about those issues. The deadline for that is May 1.

http://threadsofresistance.blogspot.com

 

GusherTrim

This thing, Gusher, is finally stitched and faced. I need to do a little inkwork on it, but I think I can call it all but done. Not a moment too soon, either. I don’t know how many years I’ve been working on it. I could look it up, but hey, why don’t I not do that? The number is probably depressing.

The fact is, I’m not one of those gracious people who writes only sweet things or gushes about how many spools of thread they’ve used or how they were inspired by a butterfly tenderly sucking the nectar from a flower. I start projects because I believe in them. Sometimes I get tired of working on them and I finish only because of sheer cussedness. This is one of those projects.

I’ll leave you with a few gratuitous shots.

desk

My desk, or a portion of it. I also call this Still Life with Key Pad, Dust Mask, and Brain Pin.

Sometimes it’s fun to see others’ work spaces. I hadn’t realized how cluttered mine had gotten. It’s taking on a “Where’s Waldo” appearance.

 

Shoes

My twelve year old’s shoe on the left. My shoe on the right. Having your kid outgrow you is one of those rites of passage, I guess. Bittersweet. We want our kids to grow and thrive, and it’s horrid when they don’t, but it would be nice to hold the baby he once was just a few more times.

 

Endcap

Alright. This. (Another “click to embiggen” picture.)

I try to be a decent person. Hopefully I’m a better person than I was ten or twenty years ago, and that usually includes just walking by and not commenting if I see something that I think is nonsense.

I’m going to make an exception this time, though. This was an end cap at one of the local Michaels. It’s for “customizing” slime. Not making slime – there’s school glue, which is an ingredient for making slime, but no borax and no instructions, so I guess we aren’t actually MAKING anything, are we? We’re just taking glitter and plastic crap and mooching it inside a viscous polymer blob so we can, I don’t know, have it fall on the floor, get dirty, and throw it away?

I have clearly outlived my usefulness on this Earth.

Thirty Infamous Views of a Gusher

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Yes, I totally stole the title of this post from Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. When I steal, I like to steal from the best.

While I was cleaning my hard drive, I ran across these images from the development of one of my pieces, Gusher. It’s fun looking back at the design process and some of the disasters.

See that first image, with the bold, graphic marks depicting the oil shooting out of the derrick? Yeah. Those bold marks looked okay on paper when I was sketching, but they didn’t translate well when I built the scene. Neither did the huge backdrop of garbage bags one can see in the third image. Using moody blue and gray clouds in the background didn’t, either. After looking at some photos of pollution in China, I decided a yellow would be more forboding and would provide better color contrast.

Then there was the oil. I’ll just put the words “particle system” and “simulation” out there and spare everybody details. It got ugly, comically so at times.

I did all that work just so I could print the thing out on fabric and turn it into an art quilt.

I’m still stitching the thing, using the stitching to create motion lines for the oil droplets and so forth. I don’t know that it’ll look significantly different after I’m done with the sewing, but I guess that’s part of the fun. We try things, see if they’re going in the direction we want or a direction we think is interesting, and we make adjustments.

Now … I just need to find some shows that want a quilt showing a guy gulping down oil and defecating out plastic cups.

gusher01 gusher02 gusher03 gusher04 gusher05 gusher06 gusher07 gusher08 gusher09 gusher10 gusher11 gusher12 gusher13 gusher14 gusher15 gusher16 gusher17 gusher18 gusher19 gusher20 gusher21 gusher22 gusher23 gusher26 gusher27 gusher28 gusher29 gusher30 gusher31 gusher32 

 

Beware the fickle Daz shopping cart

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

I have a minor annoyance to gripe about. Minor. It isn’t on the scale of people having homes wiped out by a hurricane and scrabbling to find clean water or shelter. It isn’t on par with the overt racism, mysogyny, homophobia, etc. which are evidently part of this country’s core values, or the fact that people feel they have targets painted on their backs.

No, it’s a minor whine. I was shopping. I’m not a clothing or shoes or handbag kind of gal. I’m more like a books or software or 3D model person. I could care less what I wear, in general, as long as I can whomp up a plate of Mexican food and have some cool books and art and computer stuff.

Lately I’ve been buying stuff from Daz. One of their products, Daz Studio, excels in “allowing users to manipulate ready to use (3D) models and figures”, as Wikipedia puts it. Once upon a time, that wouldn’t have been interesting to me. If I wanted to create a piece of artwork that involved 3D, it was going to be highly specialized, not something that involved models one could purchase in a store. The idea puzzled me, actually; why would I want to use somebody else’s models? No, it was Blender for me all the way; I’d just go hack together whatever I wanted myself.

Then I started making book covers as opposed to pure art. Dear lord, so many book covers and so many people on those book covers, people making out or turning into dragons or being chased by UFOs. Yeah, you can do paintings a la James Gurney, pay human models to pose for you, or you can troll through the offerings of stock photo agencies. However, that stuff gets expensive and time-consuming.

You know what’s cheap and easy? You go to Daz, download their free software and core set of free models, and you start posing the figures. Then, after you get the figures the way you want ‘em, you poke the render button and use the result as a reference for a painting, or throw it into Photoshop with some lens flares and vague fuzzy blobs that might be Bigfoot.

So that’s what I did.

“I can do this,” I thought. “I can get by with just their base models and work everything else out in Photoshop. It’ll be cheap and easy. I don’t have to spend a bunch of money. I’ll keep things simple.”

nudebasefig

One of the free stock characters, who is deeply unhappy because I chopped off his legs at the knees and he lacks the equipment to urinate.

Then I found out about the Platinum Club. “Discounts galore! Girls, girls, girls!” their ad read, or something like that. Okay, fine. They were running a deal on memberships. I paid a pittance, something like ten bucks, for a three month membership. The risk seemed minimal for that price, and I figured I’d see if the membership paid for itself.

lillithenvintens5

Lillith 7. Hobbies: crouching in virtual water while I experiment with bump maps. Likes midnight taco runs, strolls along the beach, and fast render times.

Holy cow. It was like getting hooked on crack. So many 3D models I couldn’t live without, discounted oh-so-cheaply. They started their “Platinum Club” sale somewhere in there, and my buying resistance eroded even further. Sure, I could get by without more stuff, but wouldn’t making covers go even faster if I had a few more figures and clothes for them?

So I bought. I became one of those people who lurched over to the computer at the crack of dawn to see what had been added to the “Eight for $2.99” category. One model became another and another, and this morning I went hog-wild. “Platinum Club Final Catch-Up!” bellowed their website. I could barely even tear myself away from the computer to go use the toilet, the offerings were so succulent. Pretty much every darned thing on my wish list was discounted by mammoth amounts!

terradome3

Terradome 3 was going for $12.95, massively on sale from its $59.95 list price. I flopped it in the cart and got another nice discount, down to $10.36. Woohoo! I found a bunch of stuff on my wish list on sale, and soon had piled in about $50 worth of stuff. For example, a base model of Ivan 7, which lists at $44.95, was on sale for $9.71 – then, when I added it to my cart, I received an additional discount to $7.77.

ivan-7__2

My thuggish heartthrob, Ivan 7. A steal at $7.77!

Wow. So much wonderfulness. At those prices, I wanted to see what else they had. But meanwhile, my kid was joggling my arm and whining about how he was hungry, so very weak he couldn’t even make it to the kitchen to whip up a piece of toast by himself, and he desperately needed some pancakes and an orange and a couple of pieces of bacon. So I muttered under my breath, heaved myself up off the couch, and lurched into the kitchen.

An hour later, I came back to my computer and updated the cart. Suddenly, its contents shot up in excess of $80. What the heck? We’re talking a difference in time of ONE HOUR on the SAME DAY yet the prices shifted upward. For example, Terradome skyrocketed from $10.36 to $17.26 – still on sale, but now $7 more. That was true across the board.

Or, to summarize my experience, “Big sale! Things I want massively discounted! I throw things and things and things in shopping cart! I go cook breakfast and look for even more things! Shopping FUN!” Then: “Prices go up … what do I do now? NOT fun.”

My theory is that they’re running an algorithm to see what kind of pricing gets people to buy or not buy – Amazon does that kind of thing – and if people were jumping on the sale in droves, maybe the algorithm hopped in and adjusted the prices upward. Or perhaps there’s a coding issue.

Here’s the thing, though. Once I’ve added something to the cart in good faith, at a particular price, I like it to stay at that price. An hour or two delay in checking out is not excessive. I should be able to hammer on the shopping cart and update it and add things all day long, until the clock ticks over to midnight, without seeing pricing changes.

This is not the first time I’ve seen this. It’s happened enough that I’ve started making screen captures of the shopping cart in between adding items, or making a text document with items and their prices itemized. The appropriate thing to do now would be to write the company, send them the screen captures, and ask “Say, folks, why did your prices bump up over the course of an hour?” Alas, I jotted prices down this time, which is equivalent to having no solid proof. (Much like the saying about oral contracts. “They’re worth the paper they’re written on.”)

It is what it is. Now I know, and now you do too. Double check that shopping cart one last time before you check out and enter your credit card information; otherwise, you may get a nasty surprise.

I didn’t actually need those models; I just wanted them. They were luxuries or items that would have made my work go a little faster. It’s not like I can complain about the company’s pricing in general, really; it takes time and hard work to make models, and I’ve benefited plenty from the Platinum Club sale. I know that running a company and all the trappings that go with it are expensive. However, once I’ve seen a price I find acceptable and put something in my cart, I really, really don’t like seeing the price increment upward. It’s one of those practices that lowers my trust for a company and makes me tend to avoid them.

I was planning on writing a review/comparison of Terradome 3 versus some other systems, but that isn’t going to happen now. On the positive side, I just saved myself $50-80 by abandoning the entire transaction.

I doubt Daz will notice the difference. They were doing fine before I came along. They’ll do fine after I’m gone. There are plenty of people who’ll see Terradome 3 listed at $21.58 and will swoop in and happily grab it up, not knowing that it was listed at $12.95 this morning, with an additional discount down to $10.36.

But I know.

Yep, I made some more stuff.

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Whee! Look what the letter carrier angrily hurled on my doorstep! It’s the 2016 edition of IQF Quilt Scene! That means one of my quilts must be inside. That means I must rapidly thumb through looking for it – with great care, though, so as to not wrinkle the magazine. I want the magazine to look nice and crisp so that I can leave it out on the table and nonchalantly lure people over to look at it.

showscene1_490

Here we go – page 75, deep in the bowels of the Special Exhibits section. The title of this piece is Leaving Home: Launch of the Apollo 8. It’s one of a collection of art quilts in the Fly Me to the Moon exhibit, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 spaceflight and humans’ first steps on the moon. That exhibit will be debuting at IQF Houston soon.

showscene2_490

My particular piece commemorates the moment when Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders first blasted away from the Earth and headed toward the moon. They orbited the moon ten times, then returned to the Earth. Although they didn’t get to land on the moon, they were the first to make this particular trip; their mission was important in terms of demonstrating its viability.

The piece was executed in watercolor on soy-sized cotton, then stitched. I wanted to evoke something of the spirit of the works of Ando Hiroshige.

This is only one of the pieces in the exhibit, of course. There are, I think, 176 pieces total in the collection, a portion of which will be at IQF. They have a diverse range of treatments ranging from the literal, to pop culture, to folk art.

One can see a few more in the friends@Festival eZine, a publication of Quilts, Inc. The article is also well worth reading for its interview with Susanne Miller Jones, the person who thought of the exhibit and has driven it.

Also debuting at IQF Houston: Odalisque with Squeak Toy, seen below. It’s supposed to be in the digital art category, so do say hello to it if you’re in the area.

odalisque490

Alas, I suspect it’s another of my pieces that no one will really “get”, at least in terms of understanding how the surface design was executed. On some level, that’s okay. People don’t necessarily have to understand how something was created in order to interact with it, like it, or dislike it. On the other hand, people often are curious about that sort of thing.

As a reminder, Odalisque involved things such as creating a computer-based 3D scene:Odalisque6

 

It also involved simulating the fall of the cloth throw that’s at the end of the chaise, “dropping” it and having my computer figure out what that would look like.

Odalisque15 Odalisque16 Odalisque17

Game Over involved similar activities, such as modeling the polar bear and the water it’s floating in:

box9

 

water

GameOverComp

When I recently received a judging sheet for Game Over, there were comments about thread tension and binding. This is standard for work I create, unless it wins an award, so I am sure that the sheet for Odalisque will have similar comments.

Here is how I feel after I’ve spent countless hours on a piece and I get back comments which totally disregard the surface design and whether the stitching compliments it, in favor of issues which are difficult to see except from the back:

Moving on … just finished this piece, Chaos Contained. It won’t be going to any shows, so get your fill of it here.

chaos1

I made it from a variety of bits and scraps, such as fabric and yarn tidbits. The stitching is eccentric and messy, and would utterly horrify the people who congregate at quilt shows and run their ungloved hands over the backs of display pieces.

chaos2

(Click image to embiggen.)

I like it, though. Good enough.