Fabric Collage for prize giveaway : )

This is the fabric collage I made specifically for the 'giveaway' I am currently holding on my creative swaps blog in celebration of writing 500 posts there! I thought I would show the collage off more in detail here on this blog, and tell a little bit of how I created it, below.

On November 22nd, I picked
the winners
for the give-away and my student and swap participant Barbara Roberts won this fabric collage. It was wonderful to receive Barbara's reply to my announcement email:

Hi Lenna, I couldn't believe it when I saw my name. I saw the first 3 names and thought --Oh I didn't win, then I saw more winners and still not me, and low and behold there I was at the bottom --the grand prize winner!! I almost fell out of my chair. I called out to my son and let him find my name on the screen. I am so honored to be able to have the fabric collage you created for this occasion! It will be loved. Your fabric book class I took a few years ago opened up a whole new world for me and I will always remember you for that.
Thank you!
Barbara in Ft. Walton Beach, FL


How I created this collage: First, I gathered fabrics that were appealing to me. I had spied the blue, bubbly fabric on the left earlier in the week and had put it at the top of the fabric pile so I could find it again. The dark purple fabric is actually in the same pattern but a different color -someone gave me this piece in one of the swaps.

On the right is a greenish-blue fabric I colored myself with Dye-Na-Flow as part of my Fabric Stamping & Painting class prep work. I stamped that fabric with purple VersaCraft ink as I was putting this collage together. I used a little chicken scratch stamp from Magenta and heat set the stamping with an iron after drying it with my heat gun. The denim material in the middle is an old swatch from a pair of Steven's worn out jeans that already had the fabric patch sewed on - I stamped this as well with the words "Art is just another way of keeping a diary". (click on the photo for more detail).

Then, I put these fabrics together in a way that looked pleasing to my eye, like a patchwork, and then found a piece of fusible interfacing to iron to the back of all the fabrics and hold them together. My idea was that this would keep the pieces together until I got a chance to sew them together. Instead of using batting and another piece of fabric for the back of this piece, I opted to use a piece of thick blue felt. I peeled the paper off the back of the fusible interfacing which was stuck to the patched fabrics and ironed the felt to the other sticky side. When I stitched the various fabrics together later, it created a great pattern on the back of the piece that shows.

I had just finished teaching an image transfer class prior to making this, and so the first addition to this fabric collage was the transfer of a woman's face, somewhat incomplete, to the main fabrics. I used a decorative, almost button-hole stitch to sew it in place, and before I completed all the seams around this transfer, I stuffed a bit of the leftover felt inside to make the image more dimensional. Next, I used decorative stitches to sew down all the raw fabric edges where any 2 fabrics met up and lastly around the edges of the entire piece. I chose a leaf stitch to free hand stitch all around the collage; you can see the pattern I did best from the back of the piece... I do love that stitch!

I wanted to add some other things to this because the piece did not look finished to me. I wondered if any trims would work? I found a small scrap in just the right colours and size and added it to the top (this seems to happen a lot). Then, I considered skeleton leaves, having used them recently with my students in a collage class. I found I liked using a combination of a maroon leaf and two gold leaves by 'trying them out' - placing them down and seeing what they looked like on the fabric collage before using any glue. Tacky glue was a good choice for these once I decided to add them as it dries clear. I 'audition' items like this a lot when I am working.

Lastly, I decided to add shells to this piece. I think there was a small bag of shells in one of my collage boxes which gave me the idea -this was not in my plans originally. I have a larger stash of shells that we have collected laid out on a tray on a shelf. I retrieved it and did more 'auditioning'! I settled on 6 different kinds of shells in different sizes and shapes and added them to the collage with Goop Glue. My favorite on this piece is the large Abalone shell Steven & I picked up off the beach while visiting Sanibel Island, FL. I sprinkled a little bit of iridescent glitter over the piece and it was caught where the glue was still exposed and wet around the shells. I signed my name and smiled.

It felt really good to me, even though I was quite busy that day, to create this piece. I enjoyed working with fabric again and following my typical process of gathering items and jumping in to start creating. I talk about this process with my husband Steven a lot - how it seems rather odd that I rarely have a formal plan when I start to create something. Instead, I start with an idea or certain materials and I make myself start doing something because as always, one thing leads to another. Steven says watching me has changed the way he will create art in the future. In the past, he told me he always knew exactly what his finished piece would look like before he even started creating it. I am the opposite - I never really know what I create will look like before I start . . . perhaps I'll have an idea of it, but I almost always get fed information from my brain while I am creating that guides me in what to do that I would have never guessed from the start. To me, it seems that this way of working is not quite right or up to par somehow - almost like cheating, and yet my husband says it is a truly artistic, creative way of working that he aspires to do -go figure!

I said a lot more in the post that I started out to (kind of like my creative process) but I hope you enjoy my thoughts on this anyway!!