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Friday, August 14, 2015

Benson Bubbler

Benson Bubbler Thread Painting 
finished size 8-1/2" x 11-1/2"

Portland has a distinctive style that comes from embracing its own history. The bridges, streets, buildings and the works of art that grace the city are an eclectic mix of old and new.  The Benson Bubblers are part of the rich history decorating our city.  

Simon Benson was a Norwegian-born American citizen.  He came to the US in 1912. After spending his youth working on farms and in logging camps, he built personal wealth in the timber industry and became one of Portland's first millionaires and philanthropists.  Many people know the history of the Simon Benson House and the Benson Hotel.  It is less known that he built the Benson Bridge that spans the face of Multnomah Falls, and in 1921 built the Columbia Gorge Hotel.  

In 1912, Simon Benson donated $10,000 to the City of Portland to install 20 water fountains in the downtown area.  One story claims he hoped the water fountains would discourage loggers from drinking alcohol at lunchtime.  By 1917, 20 fountains designed by A.E. Doyle had been installed.  Today, Portland has 50 four-bowl bubblers scattered throughout the downtown area.

New Techniques

For this project, rather than using my own photography, I found a photo in Wikimedia Commons.  Because I would be doing a small size thread painting, there was no need to re-sketch the photo onto freezer paper.  I copied the photo to my desktop and used Photoshop to turn it into a line drawing.  I printed the line drawing onto the Pellon 926 stabilizer.  This eliminated several steps including tracing the picture onto water soluble stabilizer and the subsequent rinsing.  

Photoshop line drawing
I stabilized the osnaburg cotton with an iron-on stabilizer and layered it on top of the printed stabilizer.  Working from the back, I stitched the lines on the stabilizer.  When I felt there were enough lines depicting the shape of the fountain and the perspective lines for the bricks, I completed the stitching on the front side. 

In this photo, the basic lines have been completed and I have started the detail work on the front side.  At this point an additional layer of 926 stabilizer was added to the back ensuring the heavy stitching would not cause the fabric to pucker.  

The backside of the completed thread painting.
There are seven thread colors in the concrete around the fountain.

Each brick throughout the thread painting has minimum two and sometimes three or more colors.

Coming soon

So much repetitive stitching in this project allowed me to contemplate upcoming projects.  I think it would be fun to try something tone-on-tone relying on stitch patterns and density to create interest.  

My old Koala cabinet rolled out to a new home this week.  My new Koala Treasure Chest arrives next Thursday.  Two weeks should be just right for a new post.  Please visit again.