Thread painting class

Okay, so I rate Thread Painting by Barbara Shapel as two and a half tons of fun.  I’m really surprised that the thread companies aren’t sponsoring her to try to teach every quilter to thread paint.  Our project was Heron Moon. 

This is Barbara’s class sample.  You’ll have to tell me at the end how good I did. 


I learned a lot about Herons.  Those thready looking feathers along the neck are actually lures.  The Heron stands very still in the water and lets those feathers hang into the water.  The fish come along and nibble at them and the heron catches the unlucky curious fish for food.  Way cool.  So, even though I didn’t intend for my finished version to have them, I realized I had to have that part, right? 

First Barbara showed us a neat background filler.  It’s just lines, but they’re not supposed to be exactly parallel.  They’re supposed to intersect and touch and cross over one another, but always run in the same general direction.  I got feedback that mine were too parallel, so tried to do better in the rest of the quilt. 


We needed to work from the background to the foreground, so this back and forth filler was the furthest back.  Next, we started to work on the moon, under the Heron’s bill.  I had time during practice to move above the bill, too.  The stitch here is called the caffeine stitch and it is just a helter skelter, every stitch in a different direction filler. 


Then, we did the bill and the head.  This is a different stitch.  It’s a back and forth stitch and the lengths of stitching are different so that you can color blend colors together, just like you would if you were painting.  I thought of it like painting with a brush where every bristle doesn’t leave the canvas at the same time, so sometimes, there are thin lines of paint that can be used in the blending.  There are four colors of thread in the beak, plus a pinky orange for the breathing hole.  Doesn’t really show up yet.  The head started with white thread and came around the neck, blending in colors as I went.  There are five colors of thread in the head and neck.  At this point, the seven  hour class was over.  She gave us the order of steps to complete the heron, always working from background to foreground. 

Yesterday, I put in the rest of the moon and finished the neck. 


You’ll see the moon continue to develop as I go because I would add thread to make it look more real. 


Next, I put in the eye and the black feathers that go off the head. 


And, then I start the body. 


Here I’m going for a color and you can see it’s too light.  Not gray enough.  I’ll keep adding grays as I go, just like I kept adding to the moon.  I think there are about 8 colors there, ranging from a light blue-gray, through darker blues and then into grays, all the way to black.  And, I added more feathers hanging off the neck.  After I was happy with the white moon, I took some silver metallic thread and added just a bit of sparkle to it.  Very slight and the camera won’t pick it up for me. 


I’m finally happy with the body, which didn’t happen until I added a very fine black thread this morning, When I was happy with that, I could start the outlining.  His eye is a bit wonky, but so is hers.  Here are our finished Herons.

100_6381 100_6372

So, the beauty of this is that every time I changed the thread on the top, I also changed it on the bobbin, so I also got this.


Hard to say which side I like better.

I have no idea how much thread it took.  It came off of about 25 spools, so it wasn’t much off any one spool, but it’s still a lot of thread. 

I will be doing this technique again.  And, I will be taking this quilt to guild meeting tonight to show it off.  Whoo-hoo.  they always bust the chops of the overachiever that finishes the project before Monday night’s meeting.  I will be enjoying that attention.

Be well.  Have a great Monday.  I took today off to finish this and now it’s done.  I’ll have to find something else for the rest of the day.  Lane


Sue McDermott said...

Lane. This is AMAZING! Can't believe it's a 'first attempt'....

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

Lane...........how the heck did you do this?? Have you thread painted before? I love this piece you created; it is beautiful!!! I have no idea how to go about this...you did a fantastic job.

Auntie Em said...

Wow, I would never have believed that this was your first time doing thread painting! It's terrific!

Piece by Piece said...

WOW!! that is amazing, great job.
How do you keep the fabric from buckling around all of the stitches? Maybe I was doing too much, tension to tight or the stitches too small?

Becky said...

Well, THAT is just spectacular. I know I don't have the patience for that...so I'll just enjoy looking at the pictures of yours!! I like how you challenge yourself to try new things.

Kath said...

that is amazing Lane!

lindaroo said...

What an amazing result! Your abilities really shine in this technique. I love both sides, how will you display it to show off both? Have fun showing off, you deserve all the positive attention you can get for this!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is WOW - you did a terrific job. Congrats. Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth said...

That is really beautiful! Sounds like a super fun class! Thanks for sharing.

xo -E

Megan said...

Sensational Lane, simply sensational. Congratulations.

Sydney, Australia

ga447 said...

Super, Super I didn't know if you were going to be happy with the class (if it was you). Wow, it is amazing and it just tells you - you are an artist.

Susan Entwistle said...

Never a danger of me being that overachiever (heh heh). You did an astounding job. Had you ever thread painted before? I've looked at books and had requested Libby Lehrman's video (which I don't think I'd ever received), but I thought it would be way beyond my skills. I'm super impressed. Beautiful work.

Peter Lappin said...

Really gorgeous, Lane -- beautifully done.