Sunday, August 19, 2012

Leaves & Shadows

Later this week my friendship group meets and a project block is due.  This year we're making birthday blocks for each member who has given a theme, color preference and/or block size to work with.  We have nine members and I think this is the sixth one due for the year.

Cristy specified autumn (not to be confused with Halloween...that's what Laurie wants) and asked for a dusty purple and allowed each of us to choose the block size.  I procrastinated as usual and was struggling with what to do...pumpkins, a cornucopia,  a scarecrow, sunflowers...what?  I had rejected leaves because that seemed obvious, but late yesterday I suddenly remembered Colleen Wise's method of discharging with a bleach and water solution sprayed around a mask to make shadows.  I had to find appropriate leaves and the background fabric first and ran a couple of tests last night and settled on what I've used before: black.  The black I chose turns a lovely orange when hit with the bleach solution.

This morning I took photocopies of several leaves and using a light box drew the outlines onto fusible web backing, fused it to several batik fabrics and then cut them out.  I saved the backing paper.  Then downstairs to setup a bucket of clean water, one of a bleach-stop solution, a spray bottle of 50/50 bleach water solution and newspapers on a table outside. I took a roughly 15" square of the black fabric, laid the backing papers on it in a pattern I liked and held them down with small stones - making sure that the papers were the correct side up to match how the fused batik leaves would sit on the top.  I sprayed the bleach solution over the surface (should have worn a mask, but I didn't) and then because the spray pattern was very uniform, I unscrewed the spray mechanism, pulled it off and scattered heavier drops all over.  After letting the moisture absorb a couple of minutes, I pulled off the stones and the paper masks and left it a few more minutes.  When the fabric had discharged enough, I carefully rinsed the fabric in the clear water and then let it sit in the bleach stop solution for about five minutes.  After that another rinse, then I let it dry in the sun and then ironed it.  I positioned the fabric leaves so that the shadows consistently appear to fall below and to the right of the now floating leaves.  Normally I would have waited to sew the leaves down until it was time to quilt, but since this is a block that I'm giving away, I used a monofilament and a small zigzag to stitch it down. After a final press, I trimmed it to 12-1/2" square.
I don't think I hit the dusty purple although that blue is more purple in person, but I hope Cristy likes it...I think I'm going to be a little sad to see it go.