One of the most common questions I am asked is, “Why did you pick that particular fabric?” I find that to be a hard question to answer most of the time. It always depends on the piece and what is in my stash at the time.
Although I do gravitate toward certain colors, purple in particular, I generally make my color choices with the mood of the piece or animal in mind. I see llamas as fun-loving, headstrong animals that need bright, fun colors. Rabbits are quieter and more soft-spoken in muted colors. Lions I see dressed in bold orange and royal purple finery.
The visual texture from a commercial fabric can sometimes set the tone of a piece. Batiks are good for that purpose with their often-complementary color schemes. One color becomes the highlighted fur and the other the shadow. Winter Bison started from a purple and gold batik. I used the gold for the highlights and sun-bleached ends of the bison’s winter coat. The purple formed the shadows.
When I chose the colors for Beauty of the Beasts,I had two things in mind. One was the fact I had two shelves of blue fabrics waiting to be used, and the other was knowing that some of those blue fabrics had silver highlights. When I started the piece, I mistakenly thought I was working on a male gorilla, or silverback, so using the blue with silver highlights seemed the way to go. Only after completing the piece did I discover that the lack of a prominent sagittal crest meant the gorilla was female
and hence not a silverback. Beauty’s very distinctive upper lip is a result of wanting a transition from the blue of her hair to the smoother skin of her nose and face. Once again, a batik came to the rescue.
And that is why I have two bookshelves full of fabric, with a majority of it being less than a ½-yard cut. I never know when I will need a particular color or combination of colors to make an animal come alive. I also find it helpful to pull out stacks of fabric to look at occasionally, maybe even refold. It helps me remember what’s waiting in the wings.