Okay, my crankiness seems to have passed (even though there’s like 4 inches of snow out there on the first day that I actually feel well enough to go running. Grr …). Going to “Crafty Christmas” yesterday (a little event organized by my friend Tricia, who is the most amazing cook/baker), and seeing all the lovely creations that people made, definitely lifted my spirits. My contribution was this Charley Harper-inspired bird collage.
I knew that, like me, my secret Santa recipient was a big Harper fan, so I thought she might appreciate this re-imagining of the Harper print that graces the cover of the ABC book. It’s a combination of embroidery and machine-appliqué on muslin, and then I stretched the muslin across a 12” by 12” canvas and used a staple gun to secure. It’s my first attempt at doing a collage stretched across canvas like this, so I’m pretty happy with it.
One thing I still need to improve upon is the backside of my embroidery. I never pay much attention to how messy it gets because I figure that no one will ever see it. However, because I used a pretty thin muslin, and because the muslin is stretched so snugly across the canvas, the backside does show through! So all of my knots and jumble of stops and starts are sort of visible. My husband was sweet and said it just looks like shadows on the snow, so I’m going with that!
I bought a pack of two canvases at Michael’s, so I still have one left. I’m anxious to try my hand at this project again using a different Harper print for inspiration.
We love Charley Harper at my house. I first discovered Harper when I interviewed Todd Oldham a few years ago. I asked Oldham (who I sort of worship) who some of his design influences were, and he mentioned Charley Harper. At the time, I hadn’t heard of Harper, but of course, I pretended I knew exactly who he was (“oh sure, he’s FABulous!”). But the only Charley Harper I knew was Charlie Sheen’s totally annoying character on that sitcom with the kid. So I immediately looked him up, and was a smitten kitten within minutes (not to mention, I learned that he’s from right here in Cincinnati!). I love Harper’s sense of whimsy and his use of color and contrast. He draws a bird like none other. So it made sense that when my husband and I were ready to invest in some real art for our house, Harper was the first place we turned!
Harper prints above the T Oldham sofa
I also love the Charley Harper ABC book and the 1,2,3 book. We started reading them before bed early on, and Max really loves looking through them now. He’s even starting to recognize Harper’s work when he sees it elsewhere. For example, we got a postcard from Fabulous Frames and Art (the best place in Cincinnati to buy Harper) announcing their upcoming Harper show. I showed the postcard to Max and said, “who do you think drew these pictures?” He thought for a minute, and then yelled: “Tarley Harpuhhh!”
I did this Harper-inspired project in Sew Retro, and it got me thinking about other Harper-inspired projects I might try.
I’ve decided to do some Harper-inspired fabric/embroidery collages and give them as holiday gifts. I’m still working out the details (strangely, I’ve noticed that I do a lot of my best project thinking at 5 a.m. when I’m lying there nursing Georgia, wavering between sleep and wakefulness). I’m going to use some of the same transfer and appliqué techniques I used to make the Clifford quilt, but on a much smaller scale. Will post the final result . . .