My son Bryan was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and sent beautiful digital photos home when it was allowed. This was one of my favorites, and I decided to make a photo quilt with it.
Bry set up the photo and handed his camera to a buddy to take the photo, so the soldier in the quilt is actually my son. His troop had been out for a long time on foot patrol and had run out of food, so they turned to their Army survival skills to eat. When Bry saw the quilt he told me that he had been eating some of the ants from the tree that hangs over him in the photo.
Luckily, Mary Ellen Kranz was teaching a photo-to-fabric class for the Asheville Quilt Guild and taught us how to print our photos as posters. This photo is printed in four pieces and joined at the center.
When building the quilt around the photo, I had no clue what the rest of the valley looked like, so I improvised. The soldier's lower body is painted. My husband posed for a photo wearing his work boots and squatting down so that I could figure out how to sketch the legs and feet. I also had to go online to find a photo of the gun so that I could paint the base of it.
I have no formal training in painting, but PBS painting shows helped a lot. I knew that the bushes in the landscape would look natural if I used a sponge to apply the paint. The rocks to the left and right are layers and layers of fused fabric which were then painted.
The quilting is not my best, but it was the first time that I had free-motion quilted a piece, so I practiced on the leftover rejected photos on fabric. I had to paint some of the pieces to see if my machine would quilt through them.
The label shows the faces of the honored men in his troop who were killed during that deployment.