Carol Deards of Santa Rosa, CA, creates beautiful pet portaits. I was very excited to receive the photo of her most recent work done using the Pine Forest gradient as the background. This quilt was just accepted into the Pacific International Quilt Festival. I love how she cut apart and reassembled the gradient for the background. It's a really nice effect.
Carol agreed to an interview so that you could meet her too and see some of her other pet portraits.
First, would you tell us about the inspiration for the cat piece and how you went about creating it.
I thought the cat who inspired this quilt was beautiful. His owner gave me the photo from which I created this piece. I enlarged the photo and traced the basic design. I added/adjusted details by comparing the photo to my drawing. I enlarged the drawing to the size I wanted the portrait to be and then selected the fabrics (100% cotton commercial fabrics except for the eyes which are a green/gold silk). After attaching the fabric pieces using applique, I used silk thread to satin stitch the fabric edges as I don't like the feel of fused fabric and use fusible thread which needs to be covered to finish the piece.
I let my imagination loose for the background - what if the cat were under the branches of a weeping willow lying on his owner's scarf? I used gradient fabric pieced into Ricky Tims' harmonic convergence pattern and free motion quilted the green background with the drooping branches and leaves of the weeping willow. I added an additional layer of batting under the cat figure and placed it on the quilt. I free motion quilted monofilament thread around each fabric piece to make the cat's figure pop. I satin stitched the edges of the figure to the quilt after I placed the pieces of a hand dyed silk scarf. to embellish the design.
How did you get into fiber art and quilting?
I have been an artist since I could first hold crayons. I was crocheting doll clothes when I was very young and have always done some kind of fiber art over the years. I learned to quilt in the 80s, but disliked the flowered cotton fabrics, and puffy batting available at that time. A coworker reintroduced me to quilting in 2007. I took a basic class, a color class, and a landscape art quilt class and realized I had found my passion in fiber - the glorious variety and colors of fabrics now available! I had another coworker who had a rescued greyhound she adored. I asked one day if she had a photo I could use to try to make a portrait of him. Using Charlotte Warr Anderson's technique, I created Truman's portrait. When I took it to work and showed it to her, she started crying, saying "That's Truman." I was hooked. I have continued to refine and develop my animal portrait technique. There is no greater pleasure than to bring an animal alive in fabric.
What inspires you?
Eyes - they are the windows to the soul. When I see a photo that reflects the soul of the animal, my fingers itch to bring that animal alive in fabric.