Texture in Art Quilts: How to Make Custom Rubbing Plates

buzzalino-rubbing-plates-wiOne of my favorite aspects of art quilts is the artists’ use of texture. I love the way you can layer technique over technique to create a dynamic design that begs for closer inspection.

And there are so many ways to create texture! Stamping, stenciling, stitching… I confess, as an indecisive person it can be a struggle for me to figure out how to start.

Trying out different dyeing, printing, and embellishment techniques is a great way to get the creativity flowing. Plus, experimenting allows us to set our expectations aside, giving us the freedom to play and watch relationships develop. Once you’ve gotten a taste of what a process has to offer, try integrating it into your art quilts.

After reading an article by Ana Buzzalino in Quilting Arts Magazine, the next technique I want to dive into is rubbings. I’ve stamped up a storm, but I’ve never thought about putting the stamp underneath the fabric. Here is an excerpt of her article where she explains how to create customized rubbing plates:

Designing with Texture
by Ana Buzzalino

I wanted to change the texture of a quilt I was working on and decided to try rubbings to see what effect I could create. I have a few rubbing plates that I purchased years ago, but since I wanted circles and lettering, I made my own by using readily available materials and applied color with Paintstiks. I was thrilled with the variety of texture and color I could add so simply. It’s like appliqué with paint!

buzzalino-rubbing-plates-2How to Make Rubbing Plates:

1. Cut desired shapes from the craft foam or use precut foam shapes or letters. Arrange as desired.

2. Using a craft knife and a ruler, cut foam core board approximately ½” larger than the arrangement of letters/shapes.

3. Draw a pencil line along the bottom edge for easy alignment of the letters/shapes.

4. If you are using self-adhesive shapes, peel the paper off the back and apply them to the foam core.

5. If your shapes do not have a sticky back, cut a piece of double-sided indoor carpet tape the length of the foam core. Place the sticky side on the foam with the paper side facing up. Trim any extra off of the ends. Remove the paper and arrange the letters or shapes on the tape. Sprinkle talcum powder or cornstarch over the shapes and tape. Shake off any powder not sticking to the tape.

buzzalino-rubbing-plates-3Print with Rubbing Plates

1. Place a non-grip mat on your work surface or tape the rubbing plate down with painter’s tape.

2. Layer the fabric on top of the plate, taping the corners of the fabric to the work surface.

3. Use your fingers to check where the shapes are and gently rub the Paintstik on the fabric.

4. Let the rubbing dry for 24–48 hours. Heat set it with a dry iron. Use a pressing sheet and iron on both sides.

Once you’ve decided what shape you want to use, try experimenting with different materials for your rubbings. Foam shapes/letters make excellent rubbing plates, but the grain in wooden shapes can provide additional interest.

For more embellishment and art quilting ideas, check out the Embellished Collage Quilt Collection available for a limited time. This curated collection features a three-pack of mini metallic Paintstiks, Mistyfuse, Lutradur, and the workshop DVD Fabric Embellishment with Color, Surface Design, and More with Susan Purney Mark. Order yours before they’re gone!

Happy art quilting!

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