Scuba 🤿 Cat! – Stitching Memories

So it all began with a hunt for something else…which unearthed slides of photos taken during scuba dives many years ago…catching moments feeding yellowtails, rubbing the chin of a moray eel, making friends with a tiny seahorse – sheer magic! But…hmm…slides for a projector…remember those?

I discovered that laying each atop a blank screen on my iPad (to illuminate the image), then taking a photo with my iPhone, allowed me to have digital images which were far from perfect…but would work.

Yay! a tourist with food for us!

Time passed, the pandemic hit and I became immersed in my Joy Quilt Project. Two years later, I sat in my studio staring at a sensational piece of Caribbean blue Lava Solid fabric by Anthology for Windham Fabrics…and remembered the images I’d captured. Aha! I had my sea, and I had the amazing Pura Vida collection by Sassafras lane– the brilliant saturated colors would be perfect for my flora and fauna down below. Can you see the scene begin to take shape in the photo below?

My image and that of most of the critters were traced from the photos in Procreate, then sent to my Cricut Maker digital cutter…this moray eel was definitely from real life:

For some of the lacy branch coral, I was particularly happy I had a digital cutter ;)…

Fortunately, my Cricut is still speaking to me, though it was touch and go after that purple piece ;). After deciding the placement of the diver and the coral reef below, the rest of the composition was basically pure fun – which sea creature to add next? Procreate is super useful at each stage…I would take photos of what was already cut and Mistyfused, and doodle in the next design elements. At one point, a certain cat snuck in and insisted upon joining…

What to do? Cut him out and then give him a tank, of course ;). As it turned out, the only fictional creatures here are Jackson, and the jellyfish…yes, I did swam with a sea turtle, with a sting ray (the best dive of all, they are adorable!), and had a tiny octopus walk across my hand (teeny suction cups to ground himself).

All fused and ready for thread! I decided this would be a perfect piece for Aurifil’s fabulous 28wt thread – I stashed the warm and cool colors of Annie Smith’s ’Love is Spoken Here’ collections ❤️ in a plastic case:

And so commenced stitching…and trimming fray…and more stitching…and more…….

…and when all of the appliqued pieces were quilted, used a few shades of Aurifil 50wt for the water. The bubbles were a challenge, as in real life they stream from the regulator in your mouth and grow larger as they approach the surface. My SAQA crew offered lots of helpful suggestions re acrylic paints and bubble paper, but the changing size was an issue (yeah, right, Laurie, because a black cat scuba-diving is SO realistic 😆 …)…so I decided to do some pebbling and some flowing lines.

One more addition for pure play was a bit of silk ribbon for ’kelp’ – totally not Carribbean but I wanted to play with the new foot that came with the upgrade to my Bernina 770QE. SO MUCH FUN!

This was the first largish art quilt done on my Bernina 770QE, and it was a dream – I really did not miss my longarm in the least because there was a LOT of fine detail I needed to do, so much easier sitting down (albeit with Loki in my lap most of the time…he’s all set to demonstrate at Open Studios at IQF!). You know how there are some pieces you hate to finish? This was definitely one…so…having conquered the seas, Jackson plans to explore space next!

Couldn’t resist adding this shot!

Published by neonkittyquilts

Laurie is a fiber artist who combines her passion for animals and quilting by producing pet portraits though a technique she calls "Pet-lique." A frequent teacher at IQF's Open Studios and The City Quilter in NYC, she has been published in Quilting Arts magazine and The Canadian Quilter. Her art quilts have been juried into special exhibits in Houston and the National Juried Show of the CQA. She sits on the board of the Quilt Alliance and is an enthusiastic member of SAQA. Laurie lives in NYC and Connecticut with her husband, their two angelic German Shepherds and three mischievous felines.

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