One of the most frequent questions I received in last week’s (fun!) Open Studios sessions was: how do I handle my all-black dog? Or my all-white Maltipoo?
While these cuties are certainly more challenging than a high-contrast tiger stripe kitty, there are several tools at the fiber artist’s disposal:
- First step: use the photo-edit settings on your phone to maximize the contrast of the image. Play with the light settings to see which combination gives you the best image!
- Think texture: when choosing your fabrics, broaden your palette beyond quilters’ cotton. One of my favorite high-impact fabrics is silk dupioni- it has incredible sheen and a very pronounced grain which you can use to suggest the pattern of the subject’s fur. You can see where I placed on my friend’s adorable Westie and on our Jackson – on the spots where the sun was hitting their fur. In addition to different weights of cotton, silk and leather (take samples from stores, cut tiny pieces for noses 🐾🐾)…I am very excited about adding Cheryl Sleboda’s Power Shine in black to add even more surface interest.
- Thread!!! C’mon, you knew I was going to say that ;). For a white pooch, think about including every shade (off-white, cream, vanilla…) in different weights and fibers (cotton, polyester and wool). Aurifil cotton thread comes in an enormous range of weights; I love the 28wt for fur but it’s fun to mix it up. Here was my lineup for the Westie:
One unusual thread that I love for black fur babies is black metallic thread by Superior- it gives a very subtle shimmer to your fur-painting! Here is a closeup of another Jackson portrait where you may be able to see what I mean:
- Fabric Ink! These pens can be your best friends when you want to create shadow. For instance, in one piece I stroked black ink under the chin of the kitty to further darken the hand-dyed black cotton…it can be subtle but you will find that it’s amazing how many shades of black exist!
Have fun creating! 🐾🐾💜