Creative Process

Honouring Dad

This photo of our dad has always been a favourite in our family. It was taken in 1940, about a year before he married mom. He’s 29, posing proudly with his first car, a Plymouth sedan. I wanted to do something to honour my dad and decided to make an art quilt to remember him by.

Dad loved to drive. In fact, I was a married adult before I realized that some people just stayed in one place for a vacation. Dad earned his living as a truck driver and when he retired he bought an RV. He and mom travelled around North America. An art quilt featuring him with first vehicle seems fitting.

Dad and his Plymouth Sedan

Before I could make the sketch I needed, I had to add the missing piece of the car. Luckily, my brother came across an image of a car like Dad’s and I could use it as a reference. Once the missing bit was added, I sketched it out, emphasizing the important lines I would use as my guides. A friend lent me her overhead projector to help me enlarge it. It worked well but I think next time I will use my laptop and projector- eliminating the need to create a transparency.

Adding the missing Plymouth Bits

Once I transferred the sketch to a piece of 100% cotton, I took it to my sewing machine to “sketch” my drawing. I used a darning foot, dropped the feed dogs and had at it.

Now I had my “canvas” and started to paint it. We aren’t sure of the original colour but my brother and I both recall Dad mentioning dark blue. (That memory may be questionable but I preferred it for the final image and went with it.)

NOTE: This post contains links to some of the products I used in making this piece. I may receive commissions if you click the links and make a purchase. However, that did not influence my choices, which were personal and not necessarily meant as a recommendation.

I thought I’d be using strictly Pebeo’s Setacolor paints and Derwent’s Inktense pencils – both of which are permanent on fabric. I mixed paint to achieve the deep blue for the car but I quickly realized I couldn’t get the nuances of colour I wanted for the skin and suit.

I did some research and learned that by adding textile medium to some watercolour crayons I already owned,, I could use them. I had never done this and wondered just how permanent they would actually be. I held my breath when I washed the piece but they proved as colourfast as the everything else.

The last step was the quilting of the background. Using a Frixion erasable pen (best invention ever!) I drew in the lines for the buildings, working on perspective to give it depth.

I started to quilt with white thread because I wanted it subtle to keep the focus on Dad and his car. However, the white wasn’t working for me and I realised the colour of the pen was perfect so I “had” to make a trip to the fabric store to get a selection of gray threads. I made the switch and it was exactly what I wanted. (Glad I listened to the inner prompt.)

Finally, I created a border for it with a multi-shaded gray fabric my friend had in her stash because by then, we were locked down again for Covid reasons. I owe her big time because I wanted to get this in the mail. My brother is undergoing some health issues and I wanted to send Dad along look after him since I can’t get there until travel opens up again later this year.

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