Monday, September 27, 2021

Julian Cope, a commissioned portrait


(Above:  Julian Cope, a commissioned portrait.  24 1/2" x 19".  Image printed on fabric with hand and machine embroidery, beading, and trapunto.  Custom framed with decorative tacks and a brass plate.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Right before leaving for a month as the artist-in-residence at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, I received the honor of transforming an old, black-and-white photo into an embroidered portrait.  Julian Cope (known lovingly as "Aunt Julie" to everyone in her extended family) was Stephen Wade's great aunt.  He remembers her fondly, playing the banjo at every family gathering.  Everyone loved Aunt Julie and cherishes the memories of her music.  Stephen Wade was already familiar with my artwork, especially Persistence and Resilience.   He liked the idea of a halo.  There was a problem though.  The only picture of Aunt Julie with her banjo was cropped at the top ... leaving less room than a beaded halo would need.

(Above:  Detail of Julian Cope.)

Thankfully, Stephen had a digital file and I had time to play around in Photoshop.  I extended the top, just getting creative with the background.  I altered the black-and-white tones to a warmer sepia too.  Then, the image was uploaded to Spoonflower.  When the printed fabric arrived, I was already in Texas but my husband Steve mailed it to me.  I was really glad.  Many evenings were spent seed stitching the background. 


(Above:  Julian Cope, detail.)

After returning home, I stuffed the figure from the reverse ... trapunto.  This gives the figure a three-dimension quality.  I added several stitched lines straight through the stuffed areas to outline her sweater and emphasis the banjo.  Then, I worked out the framing.  One of my favorite things to do is to add decorative tacks to the frame ... plus a brass plate. 

(Above:  Stephen Wade holding his commissioned fiber portrait of his Great Aunt Julian.  He's wearing a t-shirt featuring the same picture!)

It was a great day when Stephen Wade came to collect the portrait.  He talked about how this artwork will be handed down in the family.  It's already an heirloom!


Alex said...

That's stunning and what a clever way of getting round the cropping issue - I'd have never known it wasn't all the original image!

Ann Scott said...

That's a wonderful memory piece. Your additions are always the best. I'm wondering when you add the decorative tacks to the frame - Do you start at one end and go all the way around or do you space the same kind of tack all around the frame and then fill in or ??? (If you don't mind telling). I'm always curious about the artist's approach. Thank you.