The latest Art Quilts Around the World challenge had me stumped so I did as I often do and turned to Google for help. Searching for images related to ‘Film Noir’ I came across an picture which demanded my attention – it was the book cover for “Film Noir: The Encyclopaedia” (ISBN: 9780715638804)
I was particularly drawn to it the figure of a man walking from the dark into the light and the strong vertical lines of the building. I tried to create a similar silhouette myself and failed dismally to get anything as satisfying as the book image. Being aware of potential copyright issues, if I was to use such an iconic figure, I emailed the author Alain Silver explaining what I wished to do. Within 10 minutes I had received a response generously giving me permission (copied to the publishers) and offering a copy of the original full size image. Thank you Alain!
I didn’t want to copy the entire image so needed to decide how to try and obtain a similar atmosphere but in a different setting. I liked the idea of moving from a dark edge to a light centre – this reminded me of some image manipulation which I had done based on photographs taken whilst visiting an installation called ‘The Hive’ at Kew Gardens in London.
I overlaid these with the book cover to create my design. Using Gimp (an Image Editor) outline versions of the layers in my design were created and subsequently enlarged to A3 poster size using Double Take. (Both packages are available as ‘free to use’ software for Mac OS systems.)
I used black and blue florists fibre mesh (backed with Misty Fuse to stabilise and facilitate bonding later) for the foreground fabrics – these give a softer look than a solid fabric. The ‘holes’ and silhouette shapes were cut out using a craft knife. A commercial grey mottled patchwork cotton was used for the backing and the sun stencilled onto this using inktense pencils (later overlaid with a piece of orange fibre mesh for additional texture).
The mesh was heat bonded to the backing fabric and a ‘bagged out’ quilt sandwich created. All of the main edges were stitched down and any large areas of the black fabric free motion quilted to aid adhesion. Finally some free machine embroidered ground vegetation was added.