Surface Design On the Go

pokey bolton

boardwalk surface design inspiration
The parallel lines of this beach boardwalk from a seaside trip last year would make
an interesting screen print.

As you know, I am a surface design junkie. As you also know, surface design is messy.

So while I often take my beloved Bernina® on vacation with me, I'm not likely to lug my screens, Thermofax machine, paints, dyes, and soy wax with me.

But does that stop me from working on my surface design habit while I'm traveling? No way! I can still collect materials, supplies, and ideas to use once I'm back in my studio.

Here's a list of things I keep an eye out for while I'm on the go:

1. Small found objects with a graphically interesting shape that I can use these for sun printing.

2. Objects with texture I can print with or use to make designs on a gelatin printing plate.

3. Unusual things or scenes that I can photograph and turn into a screen for printing.

4. Stencils or things I can use as stencils.

5. Exotic textiles I can use as inspiration for design and color.

These vacation collections are not just fodder for art, but mementos of my travels. Like a surface design scrapbook!

When I'm home, I unpack my loot and schedule time for a surface design field day. And if I need any help brainstorming on how to use any of these treasures, I simply turn one of my Quilting Arts WorkshopTM  videos, like "Surface Design Sampler Platter" by Lyric Kinard or "Adventures in Surface Design" by Kerr Grabowski. Inspired by these artists I admire, the ideas start to flow.

You can download these and other Workshop videos at a special savings this week. Set yourself up with them now, and you'll be ready to make art out of your vacation finds as soon as you return, wherever you go, and whatever your muse leads you.

Happy gathering!

P.S. What do you collect on vacations to use later in your studio? I'm always looking for new ideas and I know other blog readers would appreciate it, too. Leave a comment below!

Other topics you may enjoy:


Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Quilting Daily Blog

8 thoughts on “Surface Design On the Go

  1. Ha!!! I collect pounds (from over eating!!). But the food ephemera (menus, napkins, umbrellas, photos I took of the plate before I tackled it) generally is helpful in my memory collection box of goodies!

  2. Just last night I returned from hosting my landscape quilting retreat at a holistic spa in Negril, Jamaica, and I was really impressed by the work of the participants. I myself had time to create a half-dozen fabric postcards inspired by the land. I also collected some seeds from dried pods (forgot the name of the tree), perfect found objects for a future project. Aside from that, I have collected restaurant menus (paper versions) and labels from local wines to be transferred to fabric later.

  3. I collect stores on vacation. I am always looking for new quilting stores or heirloom sewing stores. Have been doing French hand sewing by machine for years…now switching over more to quilting arts. Very diverse. My family has become resigned to my always searching for special small stores with lots of stock in both arts. Usually find some great treasures…….fabrics, laces, embellishments, old patterns, new quilt squares , unique wearable arts and so on. Later will enjoy e-mail newsletters from these stores with their new ideas and products.

  4. Anything from nature! Leaves of all shapes, sizes, and kinds are my favorite, especially skelleton leaves and those still attached to small twigs. Attached berries, seeds, and small cones are an added bonus. They can be used to make sun prints and applique patterns or for printing, rubbing, pounding, or stenciling. I carry an old phone book to press them in and keep them flat while we travel – it fits right under the car seat- and several zip locks for leaves I want to pound. I have found that by putting a wet paper towel in the bag with them they retain their moisture for a few extra days. Also, long decorative grasses, which are great for sun prints, and bark. Textured bark can be used for printing and thin bark from sycamore and birch trees can actually be sewn through or embroidered on and added to multimedia projects. Pine cones, acorn tops, and sweet gum balls make great textures when painted and either stamped or rolled on fabric.

  5. I save ticket stubs theme parks, plays, shows. Depending on the design and magnitude of the event, I’ll make a Christmas ornament or maybe just a gift card. I simply glue them onto a piece of cardstock, trim and punch a hole for a ribbon. Simple way to bring back fun memories.