Home Collage Susan Carlson Cloth Collage Summer season Particular 2 of 16: Selecting a Topic

Susan Carlson Cloth Collage Summer season Particular 2 of 16: Selecting a Topic


Selecting a Topic: Cloth Collage By the Numbers #2

Tom and I wish to offer you a form of DIY Summer season Collage Camp—or a Winter Collage Camp for these of you within the Southern Hemisphere. We’re calling it “Cloth Collage By the Numbers” since there’ll ne quite a few posts (not less than 16) addressing all of the steps of making a material collage quilt. We hope you’ll take part from wherever you might be on the earth—no journey concerned!

Pulling from six and a half years of cloth collage weblog posts as reference materials, we’ve determined to delve into that content material to provide you a summertime lineup that you would be able to comply with together with. Initially of this collection, there have been eight weeks left of summer time (not by the calendar however by the very subjective lens of the Maine local weather!) so every week we’ll ship two posts for a complete of sixteen within the collection—until we re-discover extra related posts alongside the way in which!.

Posts lined will embrace selecting your photograph (posted on July 7) to hanging your cloth collage on the wall (deliberate supply on August 27), we’ll cowl every step with not less than one earlier submit. (Nina Kellner’s in-progress cat from that class is featured above. And you should definitely try her fabulous completed quilt, “Brothers, ” on this End Line submit!)

You’ll have learn a few of these posts earlier than, so this will likely be a refresher for you. The knowledge might also be paying homage to data present in our on-line studying useful resource the Cloth Collage Grasp Class. If that’s the case, know that you just’re not imagining issues. A lot of this data is gathered, reorganized and expanded upon within the Grasp Class. For extra details about the Cloth Collage Grasp Class, click on the button beneath.


“Nellie,” in-progress by Daybreak Erikson

Selecting Your Topic for Cloth Collage (Revisited)

(Revealed on Jun 19, 2021)

Tom right here. Susan is away instructing and he or she left me in cost. We’ll discover out whether or not that was a good suggestion or not!

Till just lately, I had watched Susan train solely in short snatches right here and there. For instance, I spent a while in Susan’s October 2018 Portland, Maine Quilt Retreat recording college students as they talked about how they selected their topics. (Nina Kellner’s in-progress cat from that class is featured above. Remember to try the fabulous completed quilt, “Brothers, ” on this End Line submit!)

Nevertheless, throughout Susan’s Reside On-line Lessons I’ve had an opportunity to look at her in motion for days at a time, observing how she teaches and the way she adapts her fashion to particular person college students.

Selecting an applicable topic for his or her collage is likely one of the very first selections a scholar has to make. Through the latest Reside On-line Lessons Susan was in a position meet individually with every scholar earlier than class and assist information them towards or away from explicit topics. Susan by no means outright vetoes a topic. Nevertheless, she does level out the benefits or disadvantages of 1 topic over one other. If a scholar insists on selecting a topic Susan thinks will likely be difficult, she usually will ask them to decide on an second, fallback topic—simply in case. Then she encourages and instructs in precisely the identical approach as she normally does, with the identical persistence and eye for element. 

And he or she by no means says, “I informed you so” if a scholar struggles, and even offers in and decides to maneuver to Plan B. 

Watching her information these girls, it dropped at thoughts this submit written greater than two years in the past. Susan has been giving plenty of homework to her Reside On-line Class college students, together with making membership within the Cloth Collage Grasp Class a prerequisite. This submit should be one of many first her college students, or any cloth collage artist, should learn.

(Unique Submit revealed on November 10, 2018)

What makes a very good topic for cloth collage?

Since nearly any picture will be recreated utilizing this course of, that’s probably not a useful query to ask.

As an alternative, talking as a instructor of cloth collage, the query should be: Primarily based on my expertise, what makes a very good topic for cloth collage?

In case you are a newbie the reply goes to be totally different than if in case you have quite a lot of expertise. Some topics are nice for freshmen, others not a lot. However as a newbie, how are you to know?

Hopefully, I may help you out on this weblog submit. In a classroom state of affairs, imagine me, the trouble to assist choose a very good topic is in my very own self curiosity, as selecting a tough topic can result in a difficult class for each the scholar and me!

I’ve talked about how to decide on a photograph for cloth collage in “From Photograph to Cloth: Select the Greatest Shot.” Whereas it’s essential to contemplate the photographic standards talked about in that submit—worth, distinction, focus, composition, and so forth—it might even be useful to set some (versatile) tips on how to decide on your topic.

All through this submit I’ve sprinkled movies of scholars from my October 2018 Portland, Maine Quilt Retreat. Thanks for sharing, women! Every talks concerning the topic that she selected, and whether or not it was a sensible choice (Spoiler alert: Most of them have been pleased with their selections). Their expertise might provide help to select a topic on your first (or subsequent) cloth collage quilt.

Linda Anderson is an efficient instance of somebody who selected a topic that for her was low-stress and playful. I used a close-up of her hippo collage because the opening photograph for this weblog submit.

Nothing Is Not possible, However…

You may need this photograph you actually wish to do. It’s a household portrait. Or a full-body shot of a beloved Labrador retriever. Or a blurry photograph of the household homestead in Nebraska. It’s not that it can’t be completed, simply perhaps it shouldn’t be completed as a first undertaking. When you strive one thing tough to start with, you can be setting your self up for frustration, and also you won’t be happy with the top consequence. Which may trigger you to surrender on cloth collage altogether, which is an end result we wish to forestall!

One factor I’ve observed is that college students are getting extra bold with their material than they was. Wanting again at my earlier “On the Street” and “End Line” weblog posts and all of the profitable quilts completed in my previous courses, perhaps I’ve given folks a deceptive sense of what to anticipate from a firstclass. Typically, expectations run excessive and there’s work concerned to make these expectations manageable for every particular person.

What readers don’t see, and what I don’t normally speak about, are all the additional hours college students put in, generally working till late at night time after class. It could be a 5 day class, however the outcomes present many extra hours than the 6-hour class time. I additionally don’t emphasize the tears and the pissed off sighs that aren’t unusual. Folks often go off and have drinks within the night to de-stress. Sure, there are people who find themselves in a position to bounce into one thing extra sophisticated, however the perfect outcomes normally are achieved by those that preserve it easy to start out.

The purpose I wish to make right here is that whereas no topic could be unimaginable to do in cloth collage, there are some which can be higher selections based mostly in your expertise.

Kathi Allen stated she was going to “throw warning to the wind” so far as her coloration selections went.  As soon as I knew that, it helped me to direct her. I knew she was prepared to take a extra lighthearted method fairly than a severe method. 

Christy Beard has an affinity for birds. Some make good topics, some in accordance with Christy are more difficult.

Pets are a preferred topic in school. The non-public nature of the photographs can work two methods. The connection to the topic may help to encourage an individual to persevere, as within the case of Amanda Graham, or it may well place strain on the scholar to seize the persona of a beloved pet, as Nina Kellner describes. 


“The [pirate] code is extra what you’d name ‘tips’ than precise guidelines.” —Captain Barbosa, “Pirates of the Caribbean”

I hate to make exhausting and quick guidelines. It’s towards every part I imagine in as an artist. Nevertheless, I feel I want to beat my hesitancy and not less than present some tips. I’ll begin with the issues to keep away from, then recommend some good topics based mostly on expertise stage.

Keep away from

There are at all times exceptions however listed below are some topics that have a tendency give my college students suits and that you may wish to keep away from, not less than to start out:

Full size figures: Until they’re life-sized, it might make a face small in proportion, making it powerful to create in cloth. And clothes with all its edges and folds could be a chore to recreate.

A number of folks: Making a portrait is difficult. Now multiply that by 2 or 3 or extra. You get the image.

Black canine: Or white canine. Or any monochromatic animal, actually. Variation in coloration or lightness and darkness (worth) offers kind to shapes. Until the lighting is excellent, a black canine is simply that—black—making it tough to outline its kind.

Very skinny topics: Lengthy necked birds, snakes, dragonflies, and so forth. When your topic may be very slim, there’s not a lot area to play with cloth, and that’s actually what cloth collage is all about. A approach round that may be a willingness to make the design BIG.

Landscapes or nonetheless lifes: Sure, they are often completed and completed nicely. However making a stand of timber, a area of grasses, a rocky mountainside, or vase of flowers will be repetitive and doubtlessly uninspiring to the creator.

By no means say by no means. Julie Peterson’s tractor is an instance of a still-life inside a panorama, each of which I are inclined to information folks away from. Her piece is, as they are saying, the exception that proves the rule.

Good Topics

Newcomers: Select a topic that you would be able to have enjoyable with, one thing that you’re prepared to create as a playful cloth interpretation fairly than a practical interpretation. Animals could be a good begin, however make it a close-up. An in depth-up of a face of any type will be simply enlarged to a workable dimension. rule of thumb is to make it life dimension, or bigger, which can imply you must crop it tight to be able to make it extra manageable. If you wish to make a life-size portrait of your husky for instance, you can focus on the top and face fairly than the entire 4 foot lengthy physique.

For a newbie (or anybody) who needs to take a extra lighthearted method to cloth collage, I’ve made designs out there on my web site resembling: fish, bugs, butterflies, a stylized sea turtle, and solar and moon face motifs (particularly if you wish to work towards a portrait). Any of those work nicely.

Intermediate: Full Our bodies of animals, shifting into realism, if desired. Folks faces based mostly on good photographs.

Superior: Comparable topics to above however with additional components, together with portraits with a number of folks or with fingers or extra of the physique. You may even be tempted to make use of a photograph of your topic that may not be superb, the place you need to think about highlights and shadows, or full and fill in what can’t be seen within the photograph.

Vickie Ostrow based mostly her quilt on a sample from my guide, Serendipity Quilts. Utilizing a sample chosen from those on my web site is a good selection for a primary cloth collage quilt.

Generally when college students select a topic that has private that means to them, it will increase the strain on them to succeed. Bonnie Dinsmore’s blue crab had private that means for her, however she took a low-pressure angle that helped her to have enjoyable.

Daybreak Erikson went exterior of her regular coloration vary to create her canine Nellie. Generally it’s simpler to make use of non-realistic colours, which helps college students to keep away from the expectation of creating their picture “lifelike.”

Use a Small Part—Then Go Massive

Ask your self: What’s the main focus? What’s essential?

Then reduce out pointless background and distracting components. Simply because it’s within the photograph doesn’t imply you need to embrace it. If there are fingers within the photograph and that is your first cloth collage quilt, take into account cropping them out. Simplify, simplify, simplify—not solely will it make your work simpler, it’s going to focus your work on what’s actually essential to the picture.

Different artists, resembling photographers and painters do it on a regular basis. In reality, some may say that simplifying and focusing our consideration on a selected topic or thought is strictly the artist’s job.

For instance once I made this quilt of my son and niece for my dad and mom I cropped out the fingers. They weren’t essential to the picture. In reality they distracted from the principle a part of the picture, and it made my job SO a lot simpler to not embrace them.

Why do further work if it’s not essential? Put your work into what actually counts. Cropping is your pal.

After getting your picture simplified, now go large. A much bigger picture is simpler to work on. It makes the shapes throughout the picture bigger, which promotes the usage of extra items of cloth, which is able to make the material collage extra attention-grabbing. Extra is healthier, as I say.

How large do you have to go? Subject material will outline how large you could go. For instance a crane or heron must be fairly giant (perhaps 5 toes tall) to ensure that the thin head to be sufficiently big to work on. Begin with the smallest element you wish to seize and picture recreating it in cloth. How large wouldn’t it have to be? Contemplate an eye fixed of an individual’s face—life sized shouldn’t be that large—larger would undoubtedly be simpler. Once you’ve discovered how large that component must be, then you are able to do the maths (or use an proportion wheel) to determine how a lot the general picture ought to be enlarged for its closing dimension.

As I speak about Alice Magorian’s nice blue heron, discover how large it’s in comparison with all five-foot-four of me. It’s a very good instance of needing to go large to ensure that the small print resembling the top to be giant sufficient to work on.

Begin Easy, Finish Comfortable

So there you go, some tips for selecting the topic of your cloth collage quilt based mostly in your expertise stage. Mainly I can sum it up by encouraging you to start out easy earlier than shifting on to extra advanced material. I began out making easy fish, bugs, and butterflies. I made tons of of them earlier than I tackled the more durable stuff.

In my Cloth Collage On-line Grasp Class Handbook the train I begin folks off with is a spiral. This easy train teaches reducing and gluing in a straightforward and comparatively fast approach. College students who do the Grasp Class and later take a category in particular person with me usually be aware that the spiral actually helped them progress. I’m after all gratified to listen to that, as I plan to spend extra effort and time updating the Grasp Class Handbook. This replace will likely be free to any who’ve purchased or will purchase the Grasp Class.

In your cloth collage journey, strive to withstand the urge to start with one thing overly advanced. Less complicated pictures will make the inventive course of extra enjoyable, subsequently extra attractive to do extra, and the extra you do, the extra you’ll be taught and the higher you’ll get.

Cloth Collage Grasp Class

For directions on your entire cloth collage course of, you should buy the Susan Carlson Cloth Collage On-line Grasp Class Handbook. Utilizing video, photographs, and textual content I take you from soup to nuts, starting to finish in creating your personal cloth collage masterpiece.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here