Monday, January 22, 2018

"Memories that Linger..." Part Three: Creating the Design

When I was asked to make a wall hanging for the newly refurbished and expanded lodge at Camp Newaygo, the first thing I had to know was where it would hang. I love site specific design very much, and my design process was going to be based on the location of my piece.

I traveled to Michigan and got to stay with my old friend Annie, and she took me to camp for a tour. Though I have years of happy camp memories from my youth, I had never been to Camp Newaygo.
I needed some real time visuals, not wanting to work from someone else's photos.

I also knew that I wanted the focus to be a very iconic image from camp.  The lakefront with the dock and all the canoes?  A campfire? The path through their wetlands?
All good but had to be the cabins, the oldest ones there, built when the camp was founded in the late 1920s.
These are cabins #1, #2, and #3.

Cabins, #1, #2, and #3, Camp Newaygo, Michigan
When I think of the hundreds and hundreds of girls who have called these cabins home, in that special girl-power reality that is camp...all the friendships, the fun, the longing inherent in those adolescent years, (and the concomitant endearing and exquisite dramas)--and most of all, when I remember my own growth and happiness within the rustic outdoor world that made camp so special....I just knew this was my scene.

Then it was on to the lodge to pick a spot.

One of the large spaces in Lang Lodge, Camp Newaygo, Michigan

The large rooms in the lodge have walls of windows and are full of light--a very great thing but not so great for textile wall-hangings, (fading is the issue) not to mention the special events held in these spaces that would require my wall-hanging to be moved often.  So I kept looking and recognized the perfect spot as soon as I saw it.

Stairs down to the new lower floor, Lang Lodge, Camp Newaygo, Michigan

That wall above the stairs is perfect.  It gets no direct sunlight, and will be a nice large area to fill with color, memory, and meaning....that's the plan, anyways!
My design could be very large, about 62" X 78".

I did use my photograph of the cabins to develop my drawing.

Edge detection from cabins photo

I confess to having flunked Photoshop the three times I tried to learn it, but I can handle a freeware program called Irfanview.  I used it to get this edge detection from my cabins photo.

Then I took the edge detection jpeg and ran it through a program I like so much that I pay for it every year, called Rapid Resizer.  I was able to enlarge my edge detection and print it up to a 14" X 18" image, and traced my design off of it.  The only change I made was scooting cabin #9 toward the center just a little bit, for compositional purposes.

I asked Anne and Ellen to choose a phrase that would be meaningful to everyone connected with camp.  I like words on quilts.  After what I am told was a serious and protracted family discussion, they chose a phrase from a favorite camp song, "Witchcraft".  We used to sing that same song at Camp Arbutus. Memories that linger/Constant and true was their most excellent choice.

As I was working with my design, I had some trouble with the lay-out.  I messaged my Facebook friend Ginny Maxam, a graphic and card designer whose compositions always are so pleasing to me.  She steered me in the right direction, suggesting the central image be an oval with the phrases surrounding it like a hug.  Thank you, Ginny!

Working drawing, "Memories that Linger"

Above the central scene will be a twinkly night sky, and below some of the wildflowers that grow at camp. Some of the details and the font may change, but this is pretty much it.

I'll be assembling my scene collage style on a muslin foundation. Because I took such care to get the proportions of the cabins right, I wanted to blow up my drawing to actual size so I could make actual freezer paper templates for cutting out my fabrics.  

So my next stop was FedEx/Kinko's, and their sweet wide format printer. 

Full scale pattern, "Memories that Linger"

And here is the pattern, ready to work with, up on my design wall.
The next step is to build my cabins, the subject of Part 4 in this series.

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