Monday, August 30, 2010

Palais de l'Isle - Kay

Palais de l'Isle  15" x 17"
Machine pieced and quilted

I chose to focus on the Palais de l'Isle, the medieval castle in the center of the picture.  I stripped away all the modern detail, and tried to emphasize its strength and solidity, the stern, forbidding quality that it might have had in the twelfth century.  There's no sign of a town left at all, just the river with a stone bridge, and a suggestion of the surrounding mountains.

This photo was a joy for me; for some time I have been wanting to try a more complicated piece using Ruth McDowell's piecing technique, and this was a perfect subject.  In addition, at the beginning of July  I was taking an on-line class from Elizabeth Barton, who suggests overlaying a shape with triangles to simplify and abstract it.  The two techniques fit together perfectly to create a pattern for the building.  (For someone who can't draw, the Layers tools in Photoshop worked wonderfully for outlining the shape and the pieces.)

I printed the sketch, enlarged it, and planned the piecing order to make a master pattern.

The really tedious part is tracing this master pattern onto freezer paper and labeling each piece. The piecing itself went smoothly; any small problems I had were due to marking less carefully than I should have.   I chose tone on tone fabrics because I didn't want the impressionistic quality given by batiks, but a very solid, architectural style.  When choosing fabrics, I used Photoshop again to make a print with the saturation increased by 25%, making it easier to see the slight color and value variations in this monochromatic picture. In the end though, I was less interested in accuracy than in a pleasing combination of neutrals to contrast with the blues.

 The quilting adds some details of the stones and the roof.

Although there are some things I'd have done differently, I'm happy with this piece.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity, Beverly.


  1. I like that this is all pieced! That is quite a feat in and of itself! Your color choices give the work a feel of shadows and depth. I think this turned out really well!

  2. Absolutely wonderful. I love that you isolated the tower and changed the entire mood of the photo by doing that. The piecing technique from Elizabeth makes the structures much more interesting and allows more play with light and shadow. Thank you for sharing the use of photoshop to break this up into triangles. Even if you can draw it has to save a lot of time. Just excellent!

  3. The prep work takes the longest but it really paid off in this instance. That castle was really the thing. Your color choices (limited but lots of values) made the selection really stand out. The quilting was clever too. This was a really nice result:)

  4. Kay, you have really grown into your art this year. This piece is beautiful in its simplicity, and yet haunting at the same time. Thanks for sharing your piecing method--I have tried RMc's piecing with little success. Kudos and bravo.

  5. The castle looks very haunting and desolate against the backdrop--very effective! Kudos for taking a new technique and exploring it especially with a trip planned so close to the project date. Very good results!

  6. Love how you approached the piece - the two techniques pair brilliantly together. Given the cool/neutral palette, I'm surprised that I find the castle so warm and inviting. Well done!

  7. Kudos! What a wonderful interpretation! Your castle looks firmly grounded and rock solid. I like your choice of tone on tone fabrics and quilting patterns.

  8. Gosh this is really great to see and read about the process from start to end. Your talent not only amazes me but teaches me. It teaches me what's possible. I like that.

  9. wow, you really put in the work, something I could never do. This piece is stellar. Love the peaceful feeling of it.


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