Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rita - It Isn't Easy Being Green

First Joe Raposo wrote the song “Bein’ Green” in 1970, then Jin Henson made it famous by letting Kermit the Frog lament on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show that “It isn’t easy bein’ green!” the same year. And now, in 2013 the Material Mavens can see their own version of bein’ green on a lovable Schnauzer to be exact. By the way, Benny can’t sing, he just barks.
In 2010, I took a class to learn how to do a self portrait in fabric.  Ellis Bennett, the instructor, said we could do the portrait in any color and it would still look like ourselves, because the key to this process is the value of the color, not the color itself.  Colors and challenges and portraits and Benny, who belongs to close friends, as described in their words, “A two-year old in a fur coat” and I had my quilt square for this round.
The technique:  Start with a black and white photo enlarged to the size needed. Next overlay the photo with a clear sheet of plastic.  With a fine tip permanent marker, trace all the lightest areas of the photo and label those as number 1. All of the areas traced must be enclosed areas because they will become the pattern for cutting out the patches of fabric in the lightest value.  Continue tracing the values on the photo with the number 2 being the light medium, the number 3 being the medium, the number 4 being dark medium and the number 5 being the darkest value. It is helpful to place an up arrow on the traced shapes so that when you are reconstructing the image you know in what direction they are to be positioned.  The medium value will be the background on which the other values will be placed.
The next step is to trace the separate values onto a sheet of freezer paper, grouping all of the #1 value shapes together.  Do the same for each number.  The freezer paper will then be ironed to the right side of the chosen fabrics.  Then iron a paper backed fusible web to the back side of the fabric.  I use Wonder Under by Pellon.  Remove the paper from the fusible web and cut out the shapes keeping each value separate.
First fuse the large medium value piece to the background fabric.  Then using your tracing on plastic as a guide, position the rest of the values on top of this shape.
This piece was minimally quilted, outlining the body shape, the outline of the legs, the nose, the mouth, etc.  I then stuffed portions of the body, cutting a small slit in the back and adding FiberFil.  The words, “It Isn’t Easy Being Green” were stitched with the embroidery feature on my sewing machine.      

14 comments:

  1. What a cute quilt! Benny looks so real and expressive! Did you use one shaded fabric for his coat or several fabrics in different shades of green? You continually amaze me with the variety of techniques you try!!

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    1. The 5 different fabrics were chosen from a fat quarter assortment of Jenny Beyer fabrics. That made it much simpler to get five different values of the same color.

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  2. Rita, how clever! Of course when I first saw the name of your quilt in the list to the right, I was expecting a frog! But what a nice twist you've put on this beloved song. Thank you for your very precise construction instructions (hey, I made a rhyme! I always wanted to take that class and am so sorry that Ellis has moved from Waco. But now I could attempt a quilt like this, using yours, and I have YOU right at hand in case I get stuck. Love this quilt!

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  4. I love the song and the quilt as well. Benny came out great. I had a typo in my first response. sorry.

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  5. Ohhh...I'm having technical difficulties! The last one went in as a reply! I'll try it again:
    Benny looks like a real sweetheart...green on otherwise! Thank you for sharing your technique in so much detail. I love that your instructor said that a portrait in any color will still look like a portrait
    ( or words to that affect ).

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  6. What a great technique, thanks for sharing. Bennie so so lovable, even green!

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  7. I love your sharing the technique and I love dogs! Good job as usual.

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  8. Oh Rita, I just love, love, love this quilt! I didn't even think of this wonderful little song. Thanks, too, for the wonderful explanation of how you arrived at the various values for Benny. I'm going to give this technique a try!

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  9. Spectacular job! The embroidered words really add to the composition.This is just adorable!

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  10. Wow - I love this piece. I could tell from the black and white photo you added that the original photo was very contrasty. I love the look you created, the fabrics even give him a furry feel.

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  11. I must try this construction method using a photograph - your instructions clearly outlined the process. Thanks. Did you use one piece of background fabric (with the exception of the foreground plant beside Benny's right foot)? It is a perfect choice in color and print scale. Nice!

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  12. Rita, I love Benny, especially being green! He fits so well into his background. Thanks for the explanation of your process.

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