How is it done?

I create artwork in two styles. When I am making abstract artwork, there is no pattern. I begin with an idea and a group of fabrics that would play well together. When I make a figurative piece the process is more structured, and in this blog I will talk about those steps. There’s a part of me that objects to trying to simplify and explain the process. However, there might be some people out there that want to follow along and digest the process. If you are not one of these people, you can enjoy the photos and skip to the Minestone casserole at the end of the blog.

reference photo

increase size of photo

Here goes. I begin with a reference photo. I decide what to edit out and whether I want to use the existing colors. I liked many of the colors in this photo, but thought the composition would be improved if it were horizontal instead of vertical, and had three figures instead of four.

I traced the figures before increasing size again.

At a copy shop I increased the size about 250% and then cut it up into more tiles, and copied them again at 330% to achieve the desired size of 32 X 43 inches.

tissue paper placement

partly exposed figure and partly covered with tracing paper

I made a tracing of the pattern. This is placed over the muslin backing and held down with bean bags, so that I can lift the paper on the area I am working on. I iron fusible web to the back of fabrics I want to use. Preparing the fabrics can take mutiple days. When I cut  pieces, the thin backing is removed, the fabric is placed exactly where it goes, and is ironed down.

before the hair and swim suit have been added

after highlights on arms and legs have been added

The entire surface of the muslin backing is covered with ironed down bits of fabric, sometimes very large chunks and sometimes very small.

flipped over piece for the hair



I flip the pattern pieces over and scotch tape them to the back side of the fabric before cutting them. I make note of edges that need to be cut a little bit larger so that they fit under another piece that comes next.

I refer to my photo many times to check for value and intensity of color. For large artwork ( 30 X 40) it takes about 5 days to iron it all down. Adding the last bits of highlights and marker scribbles are fun. Next is the big reveal, when the tracing paper is removed, the piece is hung on the laundry line, and I really get to see it!

It is often obvious that some areas need slight changes. Sometimes I look at it upside down to help me see the piece in an abstract way. Next are several days of machine applique, followed by more days of machine quilting. The size and complexity will determine the overall time that something takes to complete.

detail on her legs

When you purchase artwork, you are also paying for the many years of practice and expertise of that artist. I have been using the medium of fabric for 50 years. There are hundreds of decisions that go into the making of artwork. Many of these are made in a spontaneous way, while in the midst of working. I usually prepare more fabrics for a project than I will likely use. That gives me flexibility while I create.

The Sound of Happy 32 X 43

I have a lot of chard and fresh herbs in my garden. They go in this recipe. Yummy.

Minestone casserole: Follow directions on gluten free Tinkyada pasta. Saute a generous amount of washed and chopped chard with bell pepper, onion, garlic, and lots of fresh parseley and basil. Wash and drain a can of pinto (or cannellini beans). Add beans, cooked pasta and tomato sauce (or diced tomatoes) to the cooked vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with parmesan cheese.




One Response to How is it done?

Angeli Coover

Thank you for sharing your process. It is so facinating to read how artists begin and finish their work. Great blog post.

Hope to see you soon.


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