It’s not everyday that we source a shoot location that comes equipped with the perfect puppy-model. And believe me when I say that when we do, we get a model release form signed and we put that puppy in a book!
Designing and photographing a cover this way appears like it should be pretty quick and simple (Spoiler: the more simple the layout, the more challenging it was to put together). There were endless configurations that we could place these quilts in, it seriously began feeling like a giant game of tetris! Playing with the shapes and balancing the color, considering where the title would be placed and which quilts worked best together…I’m kicking myself for not recording a time lapse of this set up.
Composing the image while keeping the text in mind is my favorite way to design. I suppose it’s a good thing that I know a great photographer.
Project: Mini Masterpieces
Author: Alyce Blythe
Publisher: Lucky Spool
Book Design + Photography: Page + Pixel
It was a Saturday morning and I was rushing around the house attempting to check off my to-do list: Laundry. Give the kitten his medicine. Return the library books.
Rounding the corner to head downstairs I was stopped in my tracks by this scene:
I had recently played Tetris with some of my beloved objects and moved them around the house to give them new life and it worked! I actually stood and smiled for a few seconds, admiring each individual object and remembering the stories behind each of them.
None of the objects are new, the most recent acquisition is the ceramic coffee mug that I bought as a Christmas gift to myself 3 years ago. The rest of the treasures vary in age and importance.
The framed and painted Paul Klee print was a $1 thrift shop score from my college days in Green Bay, WI and the little beaded rhino was a gift from our South African neighbor. The purple monkey head (that opens and holds a lighter for our sage bundle) was found at my favorite local thrift shop while the flower pot was dug out of the trash in my college ceramics studio.
I have a habit of sticking photos into the inside edges of frames because I’m running out of wall space and I refuse to not be surrounded by family images. The photo of Piper is special to me, she is wearing the tutu my dear friend, Beate, sent her from Denmark for Christmas and Teagan stands proudly in front of her room as a family friend takes her photo at our early-morning in-home photo shoot. I regret the time candle wax dripped down the handsome bookcase my grandpa made when he attended Milwaukee Tech high school and it appears that I need to dust the leaves of my (thriving!!!) orchid.
At one point I had kept Marie Kondo’s book The Magical Art of Tidying Up on top of this bookcase along with The Perfectly Imperfect Home. I thought seeing the book that encourages us to minimize would be inspirational to me but I found that it stressed me out when I saw it. Marie’s book, while very motivating to me at times, didn’t make sense up there with my collection of misfit objects.
As a stylist and an artist, I sometimes feel like a hoarder. It is a fine line between collecting and consuming and it is a constant practice for me. I love the idea of a minimal home, I imagine the calmness that comes with a sparse space is tangible. But as hard as I try, I can’t seem to pass up the purple monkey-head boxes. Maybe in another life…but for now, my collection makes me happy.
Sometimes when I’m stuck I find myself scrolling through work that we’ve done in the past. Maybe it’s a way to remind myself of where we’ve been, that work comes and goes and to let myself be okay with taking time to reflect and just enjoy what’s right in front of me.
A few years ago now, I bought this pair of scissors at QuiltCon, they stopped me in my tracks and I had to have them. Confession: I have never actually used them, I just love the way they look.
Never one to say ‘no’ to a fun photo opp, Nissa let me stage a shot of the shiny sheers atop a piece of beautiful found wood beneath the most perfect window light. I could look at this image all day…the smooth metal juxtaposed with the rich, textured wood is, to me, perfection.
I encourage you to take a minute to notice and get lost in the beauty of something around you. It might even be something you made. We can get so caught up on creating the next best thing, it’s okay to take a minute to love something you’ve already done.
Photographing a quilt is one of the more difficult things I’ve encountered in my photography career. It’s also one of the reasons I love my job - the challenge - ensuring the quilt is evenly lit, making sure the colors are true/fabrics are represented, and that we accurately capture what makes the work special - is something I really enjoy.
I shot this quilt for Char Maeda, one of the Milwaukee Sewtopia Michael Miller Challenge winners. Isn’t this quilt fantastic?! The color and pattern combinations, the shapes created from the improv blocks, and absolutely stunning quilting.
PHOTOGRAPHING A WHITE QUILT can be quite daunting; there is less margin for error in a lot of ways. The lighting you use must be carefully placed because with white, anything bouncing (like the color of a wall, a piece of furniture, even a shade of white wall bouncing light from the window first before it hits the quilt) will reflect on to the white fabric. It’s also very easy - especially when you’re trying really hard to control the quality of light - to over or underexpose the white fabric while trying to properly light the colored fabrics alongside it.
Here are a few tips to get you started on photographing your own white quilt!
USE THE BIGGEST, SOFTEST LIGHT SOURCE YOU CAN FIND. The bigger the light, the less chance for falloff and reflection of color. Soft light keeps the shadows along the quilting prominent but understated. Ideally, the light source is as big as the quilt is. That means, if you’re using a window to light it indoors, opt for the biggest window or use a big modifier (like a scrim) placed in front of the window
KEEP YOUR SHOOTING AREA AS WHITE AS POSSIBLE. Flooring, colored walls, anything that isn’t white and is bouncing light in your shot can and will reflect color back on to your white quilt and make it look dingy or weird.
KEEP WHITE FOAMCORE AROUND FOR BOUNCING. You won’t always be able to get the biggest light source, and you won’t always be able to be in a white room with nothing of any color nearby to reflect. This is why I keep lots of 30x20 white foamcore boards from the art supply store around - they’re perfect for putting in front of furniture or on top of flooring that is reflecting color we don’t want. They’re like $3 each and endlessly useful!
SHOOT WITH THE QUILT AT A 45 DEGREE ANGLE FROM THE LIGHT AND USE A BOUNCE TO FILL. Sometimes with quilts that are all colored fabrics, I can get away with a simple 45 degree angled light - what you should be doing for every quilt you photograph - without having to bounce on the opposite side. I don’t recommend this for white - because the amount of light falloff between your light source and the “dark” side of the quilt is enough in most simple home lighting scenarios to cause a pretty significant visual difference. It’s very easy to use something large and white - foam core board or even a white sheet - just to bounce the light slightly and fill in the shadows. This will help you to get beautiful, defined quilting but also to bring in light and reduce the amount of color correcting you’ll have to do on the white fabric.
Finally, enjoy the challenge! I love shooting quilts that give me a little bit of a struggle - because I learn something new every time. Play around, try things, and if you get a little stuck, make sure to ask for help in the Page + Pixel Photo School group on Facebook.
Quilt Design by: Char Maeda
Photography: Page + Pixel
Hey there, Pattern Designers! There has been a great conversation happening amongst pattern designers around having patterns tested before selling to consumers. There are some pattern designers out there that write up a pattern and sell it without ever making the quilt! While the rest of you are taking pain-staking measures to ensure that your customers will have success (and enjoyment!) by hiring technical editors to review your instructions, hiring pattern testers to make sample quilts (sometimes multiple times!) and illustrators to make sure your step-by-step images make sense.
That’s a lot of effort, time and money but it's worth it, right? To have your customers associate your brand with quality is important. So how can you differentiate from the pattern designers that AREN'T doing quality-control? How can you assure a potential customer that when they purchase your pattern, that you have done all you can to make sure they will be successful?
In a conversation started by Raymond Steeves, Kim Kight suggested that there be a stamp of approval, indicating that a pattern had been tested. After riffing a bit and having fun with it, Nissa and I decided that we wanted to offer you a graphic that you can use on your patterns (print and PDF)! Visit our shop and download this icon to use on your printed patterns, your PDF downloads or even on your website!
Thank you all for having such wonderful, open conversations. Your willingness to share elevates the industry. We hope you are able to find use for our little gift of gratitude.