I started this piece with the idea of making a Mexican tree of life quilt. I knew it should be bright, colorful and graphic in style.
For several weeks I carried my sketchbook with me as I went about our home schooling classes and activities and when I had some time I sat and drew as many different animals as I could think of.
I knew these would be stylized animals so I was not going to worry if things looked exactly like real animals, just close enough to get the idea. After I drew a leaf, pomegranate and tree that I was happy with, I scanned all these images into Photoshop. Using the rubberstamp tool I made several stamps of leafs and pomegranates at various angles that I could stamp into positions around the tree branches, all being exactly the same size. I placed the animals around the tree, sizing them up and down and tilting them into a pleasing composition.
Once this was complete I transferred the file to Adobe Illustrator and sized it up to 60 inches square. Then I printed it out on 8 1/2” x 11” paper and taped the sheets together with clear packing tape. Once it was full scale I made a few adjustments sizing up a couple animals and rotating another to a new position and then I realized I had forgotten to add a snake. How could I forget a snake? I have them in so many of my quilts. I grabbed the tracing paper, laid it over my drawing and drew a snake to fit in an open area in the bottom corner. I then copied this with a Sharpie onto the final drawing. I always use Sharpies on my drawings, because it is so easy to see it through the white fabric.
Next I taped the top edge of my fabric (regular bleached white PDF cotton) to my drawing and LIGHTLY traced the design onto the fabric with a thin lead mechanical pencil.
I use Jaquard and Pebeo Setacolor brand textile paints. I mostly used Jaquard opaque paints for this quilt. These paints do not spread on the fabric if you use them the consistency that they come out of the jar (thick creamy) on cotton fabric. Sometimes as the paint sits and starts to dry in the dish while painting I will add a little water, or moisten my brush but usually no extra water is needed.
I leave my large paper drawing underneath while painting to protect my table and if I want to make any changes or additions to the design it is easy to add it in as I go. I paint straight onto the fabric on the table. The paper sometimes sticks to the painted fabric so if you don’t want to occasionally pick paper off the back of your fabric paint on a covered surface. I like to use dry cleaner bags because they are so thin they will not make bumps under the fabric. Painting over a textured surface will show up in the paint.
When it came to painting the black, I used a tiny brush and carefully painted around each animal about a quarter inch, then filled in the background.
My new Ipod played a key role in the making of this quilt. Because of the detail and precision this painting required I knew I needed something to keep my mind active and engaged while I painted endless hairs and dots.
I listened to 7 audio books while painting this quilt. Three of those books totaled 53 hours. Every hour of painting was wonderful.