Quilted Acrylic Artwork: Doctor Who Tardis

The University I work at shuts down for about a week each Christmas.  I knew I wanted to try something big and complex over the break and eventually settled on a large Doctor Who Tardis.

Let's roll back to DragonCon 2019.  We decided to go for a day.   Later in the day we found our way to the gigantic dealer room.   I met an artist (Visit his website at Geek Orthodox !)  who specializes in stained glass and stained glass styled window clingers.  I immediately bought the window cling version of his Tardis.   It's even on my window at work, so I see it every day.

It occurred to me that this was the route I wanted to go- stained glass.  I have already been dabbling in stained glass style in both fabric wall hangings and acrylic painted canvases. 

I decided to use his version as a rough starting point, but about 2 years ago I 'sketched' a Tardis on paper with a ruler and have it transferred onto a canvas- I'm still a little terrified to try painting it :)    I eventually merged my Tardis design and his Tardis style to form the basis for the acrylic Tardis.

I painted the 4 canvases the week before.  They had to be the size call that I call Super Canvases. That's the size of two 20 x 30 foam board, which usually comes to around 38 x 30 in usable canvas. This makes most of the pieces long enough, so that I don't have to stitch multiple shorter pieces together.  It's cleaner for the finished piece.

I already had a large grey with iridescent gold and silver canvas. That would be the leading between the other colors.   Next, the white canvas was easy, since I didn't need very much.

Getting Tardis blue right is always a challenge.   I did a lot of small mixes, before I settled on the right blue.

The more difficult canvas was the violet/purple. I wanted the Tardis to rest at the center of the 'time vortex.'  I first painted the entire canvas violet, then start adding darker purple strokes, moving out from the center to the edges and corners.  This was on a super sized canvas, which used a LOT of paint!

Once I settled on the size of a single door panel, I built the rest of the Tardis around that single panel.  It set the size tone.

Stitching the pieces together for the Tardis was somewhat easy, but I could have been more accurate with the squaring.  The two doors are not fully lined up. If I ever make another, it should turn out more better.  There were lessons learned!

I tend to live by the motto of Go Big or Go Home.  My Tardis is a whopping 45" tall x 25" wide!

Here is a pieced, but not quilted view...

Here is the back of the Tardis. 
You can see all of the stitching that anchors all of the the pieces to the batting and backing.


Piecing the purple onto the Tardis was definitely the toughest part.  I had to lay the Tardis on top of the violet canvas. It was directional, so the color had to flow outward.  I used a rotary cutter to very carefully and slowly cut the violet around the corner of the Tardis.  I had to do this for all 6 pieces that had angled leading or wrapped around a corner.  It was nerve wracking!  I was afraid that I would run out of grey canvas.   There was very little left when I finished.

Once I had all of the pieces cut out, I began stitching them together and added the gray leading strips, which incidentally are 1/2" wide.

After the Tardis was fully assembled, I stared at it for a while.  I was trying to decide if I wanted to quilt it.  Quilting acrylic canvas is dangerous.  You don't get second chances, because once the needle punctures the canvas- the holes are there permanently.  You can't even paint over them.- they never do away.

I went for it and decided to use simple patterns- all lines and straight lined spirals.  That matched the Tardis look and feel - it was contextual to the subject. 

Bottom line:  I am extremely happy with how it turned out!  It will eventually hang in my office, once I figure out a way to hang it.  I won't frame it, because it would then become way to unwieldy to ever more or even store.

Here is a view of the quilting process.  Although the canvas is fairly rigid, it can be rotated, rolled and folded, turned and shoved  It can be challenging to push and tug the canvas through the neck of a domestic sewing machine, but it can be flattened out afterward.   There is a resilience. 


Here are a few closer views of the quilting...

And finally...the finished Tardis!


Rate this Geek Speak blog!