Thursday, June 6, 2013

'The Reef' a cover story

Before Memorial Day I was asked to do another ocean themed art journal cover. This one needed to be larger then the last two small ones (6" x 6") , I settled on 9" x 12" knowing that the whole picture would end being 12 x 18 and not wanting to get out of my com fort zone... I felted forward.

The first thing that needed to be done was to find a large enough sheet of felt for my background, harder than you might think as I don't normally keep anything larger then 12 "X 18" around,; I know your thinking didn't I say that was the size of the picture. Yes, but one rule of journal cover making is go larger, especially with felt;it has the tendency to get stretched out and sometimes even shrink after you worked it for awhile . Plus you'll need extra for making the inside flaps and such. I ended up sewing two sheets together to get the base length I wanted.

Now to start on the waves, and the background. Waves are easy, I use curly roving in a mixture of fleeces, silk throwster, and curly locks for the top part of the waves. As we gradually go down into the ocean, things start getting softer, Faux cashmere, assorted roving s, organdy ribbons appear.

Needle felt this area as you think  the waves should look. No interpretation is wrong , just go with the flow. As they are probably hard to see, I thread painted fish into my waves in the same shades as my roving , creating shadows  and depth.

Next came the middle , even though my wool fabric was a lovely shade of blue wool, I added a heathered
Harrieville fleece over it, muting the background. If you have never used heathered roving it is wonderful, comes in a wide variety of shades each is bright but muted down with flecks of soft black, in this case darker blues, some lighter and an occasional grey. Usually the colors in it are plays on the base color.This roving has a lot of air in it making it fluffy,  tons of small pills and fun to work with. It was just what i wanted for my background.

The next area is the reef..... 
 Using a Merino- Romney Cross roving in hand dyed multiple shades, I twisted and turned , felted down and begun again to create a reef that I liked. This roving cross mix had lots of character, as the wool locks were still noticeable after they were dyed and they made great coral. In the picture above I had added a large yellow parrot fish. he was removed later in the process. There are lots of nooks and crannies for spaces to add fish, and other sea life later in. Coral or underwater rocks are not whole lumps, make sure to leave open spaces. The above picture is from the front of the journal, you'll see it better later.
This is the back left side, colors are slightly different . notice the octopus ... he is hidden in the rocks. This is a good time to start adding in kelp, corals and anything else you want in the background. As a work in progress Up until the last moment and saying it was complete, I was still adding in kelp and corals and such.
This how its looks so far.

Next came the fish, and to take that big yellow one off, harder then you think and he was sewed on pretty tightly.
From here on out we are looking at the entire piece for now. A few fish here and there to start. I researched tropical reef fish on the net, found some I liked and printed them off. Cut them out and sewed them on. They came out a little lighter ( probably due to low ink in my printer) then I wanted so using fabric markers I re-enhanced their colors. Most tropical reef  fish are brightly colored.
I thread painted orange shadow fish in the background, didn't really like them but once on I could not take them off. So look for how I fixed this error in the following pictures.
I machine stitched coral strands in  the background, hand dyed burlap to make unique shapes, added in ribbon & yarn kelp strands. Then came the fun part....

A few more fish. In this entire process every few steps I went back and free motioned stitched , this will add not only depth to my picture, but durability if the person who owns it handles it often.It also helps create an illusion , especially if you use tone on tone thread, so your seeing thing in the distance and others up closer to the front. Before beading, I added in more layers of corals, fans and rocks. Then came the beading.
Oh, I should note, I also  added in pieces of shiny tulle and organza , both are clear and make great fan and stick corals, hard to see in the pictures but fairly easy to use.
The beads just went were ever I chose to put them, no real rhyme or reason.I did make sure I used shapes that wouldn't look out of place under the water, pearls, rocks and tear drop beads (which made great sea anemone). 

Here is the finished piece.

Front of Journal
Back of Journal
Opened, with hardbound journal inside. I blanket stitched all edges to finish .

Enjoy- TNfrmgrl