Inside the Surface Design Mind - Q&A with Marcia Derse

12 Dec 2012

Recently, I shared Marcia Derse's tips for making your own fabric stamps for resist dyeing. The way that Marcia came to surface design and incorporates fabric painting and dyeing techniques into her quilt art fascinates me so much, I thought I'd give you some insight into her thought process. This Q&A is excerpted from the October/November 2012 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine.

surface design swatch journal marcia derse
The influence of Marcia's background in book arts is evident in her inspiration journal that includes swatches of her surface design experiments.
VHD: What led you to take this path with your artwork?

MD: As an artist I have tried a variety of different media and they each have each brought something different to my work. When I started working with fiber again, I knew it was the perfect fit, and patterning my own cloth was just another avenue of artistic expression. Reconnecting with surface design and stitch after years of drawing, painting, and rubber stamping on paper simply felt right. The process of building layers of color and personal marks on fabric is much like painting, and allows for the interesting surprises can happen only on cloth.

VHD: Why did you choose to focus your creative effort on quilt making and surface design?

MD: When I began making quilts and sewing again, I was using fabrics designed by other artists, and quickly felt that something essential was missing. The fabrics were not available in the colors or patterns that I needed. When I started dyeing and designing my own fabric, everything fell into place. By making my own fabrics, I was able to create a personal vocabulary of color. Having that option made it possible to feel like I could paint with the fabric.

VHD: Walk me through the process of creating a piece of your art cloth. At what point do you know you are done?

surface design artist marcia derse
Surface design and fiber artist Marcia Derse.
(Photo by Helen Gregory)

MD: When dyeing and over-dyeing fabric, I always start with a piece of unbleached muslin. I first dye solid colors with Procion® MX Fiber Reactive dyes and then use a water-based resist to create marks with brushes, squirt bottles, monoprints, and stamps on top of the fabric. The next step is to paint or over-dye the piece with a thickened dye. I don't actually know what the finished work looks like until the resist is removed and the fabric tumbles out of the dryer. If it comes out interesting I keep it as is. If it is dull, and I never want to see it again, I dye it again!

That sounds like fun to me! To read more about Marcia's journey and learn some of her over-dyeing techniques, get the October/November 2012 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine or Series 1000 of "Quilting Arts TV" where Marcia demonstrates painting fabrics with silk-screen paints.


P.S. Do you use your own fabrics in your fiber art, commercial fabrics, or a combination? Leave your answer in the space below.


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Quilting Arts October/November 2012

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Comments

callifur wrote
on 15 Dec 2012 5:49 AM

Re surface design, I use a combination of my own fabrics and commercial fabrics. Often I'll start with a commercial fabric, then modify it with inks, dyes, paints, stitching or whatever comes to mind and to hand at the time, to make it just what I want for the project. Often t's such a dynamic creation that I never quite know exactly what the end result will be until I'm there. I just have a 'feeling' from a starting piece, and go from there.

callifur wrote
on 15 Dec 2012 5:49 AM

Re surface design, I use a combination of my own fabrics and commercial fabrics. Often I'll start with a commercial fabric, then modify it with inks, dyes, paints, stitching or whatever comes to mind and to hand at the time, to make it just what I want for the project. Often t's such a dynamic creation that I never quite know exactly what the end result will be until I'm there. I just have a 'feeling' from a starting piece, and go from there.