Because I wanted to incorporate the use of thermofax screens in the design, I took some photographs to burn into screens.
Several were peppercorns spread on a sheet of paper and one was even those hot spicy varieties of pepper. Ultimately I did not use those screens. Instead I picked some images from copyright free graphics and clip art to make screens and also used a stencil of Chinese characters (apparently about the Yellow River).
I knew that I wanted to frame my photo in some way and settled on a collage approach using a mix of commercial and hand dyed cottons, some upholstery samples, and pieces from a hand dyed silk scarf which I cut randomly into squares and rectangles.
I wanted this background collage to be textured and then printed so decided that I would write out several stories with permanent marker across the fabric to give the base a texture and to record the hidden stories on the quilt.
I started writing three stories onto larger parts of the fabric but as the collage started to come together I switched to writing on the precut pieces as a time saving measure since by now the deadline was less than 30 days away. I used several colors of permanent marker and wrote one story about our family trip to China in 2007, one story of my “pretend” traveling spice selling family from many centuries in the past, and then one about the basic research I did on black pepper and its use in China.
These pieces were backed with MistyFuse, arranged and adhered to a batting of cotton/bamboo. Then they were free motion zigzag stitched around all sides and through the batting. Meanwhile I was also working on a way to transfer my photo image. While it looked fairly clear on the computer screen there was pollution hanging in the air that day and everything in the distance seemed hazy.
I tried ironing freezer paper to a good quality muslin and putting it through our printer and was not happy with the results. Next, I tried a product that gave me a plastic looking image that included splotchy areas. That was a big “no” also. After going to the Quilter’s Unlimited quilt show just a few short weeks before the deadline, I found the product that produced the best results from one of the vendors.
I printed the photo in four sections to fit the space I had allocated for it on the base fabric. This was also fused and the horizontal and vertical edges that joined the four pieces were stitched together with a narrow zigzag. On the back went a layer of felt as the backing.