Tuesday, May 31, 2011

15 Days and Counting...

As you might have guessed, I haven't been blogging as often because I've been spending every free moment working on this large underwater scene (I'm still trying to come up with a title for it). What I've been trying to capture in the piece is the sense of wonder, fun, joy, and awe we experienced snorkeling in St. John this summer. I've been sort of reliving our favorite snorkeling moments and selecting which fish and other elements I want to include in this piece. One of the interesting things we saw snorkeling in Trunk Bay were huge schools of these tiny silver fish. There were clouds of them that we just swam through. Here is a photo of my oldest daughter hovering above a large school. The water would just shimmer and ripple with the movement of these fish.
At a certain point in the afternoon, we were swimming among these schools of fish when suddenly these two very large (4 ft long) shiny silver fish came swimming silently along behind them. We were amazed at the size of them and assumed they were hunting down their lunches, although we never actually saw them eat anything. But they circled and swam around this area of the bay for as long as we were in the water. I later found out they were tarpon (you can see a photo of one by clicking here), which are characterized by a large lower jaw protruding above the upper jaw, noticeably large scales, and an extremely shiny silver color.

I decided I wanted to include these two elements in my underwater scene, so I got down to business on Friday and put in a lot of hours over the long holiday weekend. First, I painted and stitched a large school of those little feeder fish. Then I got to work on the head of a tarpon, which I plan to have swimming in from the right side of the piece. I wanted him to have the characteristics I mentioned, so I sketched him out and found a nice piece of shiny silver silk for his body. I decided to add scales out of that prismatic ribbon I used for the yellow-tailed snappers, but the ribbon is only about 1 1/2 inches wide. I drew out a diagram of all the scales, put the shapes onto Wonder Under, and fused it onto the ribbon. Then I cut them all out and fused them into place using my diagram as a map (each scale was numbered). I ended up adding some aluminum foil for his face and covering the whole fish with a sheer white fabric. I'm happy with the results, but I'll wait until he's stitched on to photograph him and post it. Here is a shot of him under construction.When I had stitched and painted a large school of the feeder fish, I realized I needed to finalize the placement of the large piece of orange coral and begin to stitch it down. But before I could do that, I needed to stitch all the pieces of fabric together (they were mainly held together with fusible only). It took a good bit of time to get that done, but I finally finished it yesterday and was able to back it with a loftier batting and begin stitching it to the main water fabric. I'm really glad I took the time to piece it together first, because that left me free to stitch it down only where it would have the most impact. I really want this piece of coral to have dimension. I tried to choose a range of oranges from light to dark and place them so the darker pieces are underneath or behind the lighter ones. I under- and overlapped carefully to also help add depth. Finally, I quilted the darker pieces down more heavily so they would recede and allow the lighter pieces to pop up. I don't know if you can see it in the photo below, but I think it worked! You can see the school of feeder fish in the background and two of the other fish that I already stitched on. I just hope I can finish it in the next two weeks....!!!!!

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