Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tetes au Dessus- Beverly

15 1/4 by 10 1/4
Cotton sateen, oil paintstiks, machine quilted, hand embroidered

I looked at Kay's picture for a very long time, and many times throughout the month!  I tried cropping it, played with different filters in PSE.  I even tried painting a couple of faces with my Tsukineko inks- and promptly discarded that idea.

I kept coming back to a couple of elements in the photo- that long horizontal line of dolls, and that sea of hair they were sitting in.  So I decided to emphasize those elements in my piece, and have the rest play a very understated backup.

Originally I thought I would use discharge to create the doll shapes, varying the time I left the bleach solution on the fabric to create different values.  Experimentation showed that wouldn't work to my satisfaction, so I played with my Shiva paintstiks- voila! I created two different freezer paper stencils, and had to paint in the dolls over a week-long period of time so the paint would have enough time to dry before I ironed the second stencil on.

I hand dyed some cheesecloth to stitch on for the hair.  When I applied it, it didn't work- it overpowered the dolls, and thrust itself into the foreground.  So the decision to use seed stitching was literally last minute- I finished that up last night.  The quilting was determined by the other objects in the picture.  In retrospect, I think I could have done that differently, and just left those bits out of the piece.  Obviously,  I pretty much ignored the colors in the photo!

Here's a detail with a closeup of the embroidery and quilting.

This was an interesting photo to interpret; after my initial reaction, I actually enjoyed the process!


  1. How very strange this is! And that's a compliment. You've created a striking, puzzling image, quite reflective of the photo, I think. I like it very much.

    It was also interesting to read what didn't work for you, and what stood out in the photo. The horizontal row was something striking to me, also.

  2. ooooo...your focus on the doll busts turned into a wonderful piece. I like the straightforward simplicity that gives this small scale piece BIG impact. The "story" of it can be anything the viewer brings to it from their own experience. Bravo!

  3. I think you and I were on the same page with this one!! I like all the different colors of the bodies. Bravo!

  4. I agree with Nellie that your piece could be an individual story from each viewer's perspective. It has a tombstone effect for me--maybe the passing away of unknown people. Very compelling, Beverly.

  5. I agree with everyone! The abstract simplicity captures the essence of the photo perfectly and I for one love the seed stitching. Wonderful!

  6. Me too! I love the simplicity of the figures and the different colors. I think the stitching is a brilliant idea, and the quilted face in the background is like a guardian angel watching over these "pods." It's ethereal. Great job!

  7. You really did pick out some intereting elements from that photo. There is a real dimensionality to it and I like the supporting quilting quite a bit. It almost has a 3 d effect because of that. This is a really original interpretation.

  8. Beautiful colors and I love the face in the background so much. Great job.

  9. Wow, a very striking and unique interpretation. I like the doll forms - almost as if they were unfired, rough molds of dolls that might be found in Kay's photo. Seed stitching is a perfect complement to the simple shapes. Nice work!


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