I think most quilters probably feel at some point that they are focusing on one area of quilting at the expense of others. Personally, I tend to get really into either the patchwork aspect of my work--collaging or sewing together my fabrics--or hand stitching. I tend to use fabrics that I've found when rummaging through antique stores or interesting textiles from my travels--and, of course, commercial prints.
But I've decided that 2010 will be the year that I push myself to try out some surface design so I can have fabrics that are uniquely mine. Dyeing, printing, painting--you name it. In fact, after seeing the gorgeous fabrics that Pokey has been bringing into the office, I'm particularly intrigued by Thermofax printing...
I'm excited by my resolution, but I have a lot to learn. So far, I've done some very basic stamping with Procion MX dyes, and that's about it. Does anyone have advice for someone entering the wonderous world of surface design? What are some good beginner approaches and/or your favorite techniques?
If you're anything like me, you probably have a couple of books about surface design or fabric embellishing already, and what I am doing this year is trying at least one new "technique a week". I have started chronicling them on my blog as part of my weekly quilt series.
So far I am happy with the results and after the year is over I will have tried 52 different techniques! That's a pretty good start as to finding something you will love to do. Not to mention that you will have tried a huge variety of them to be sure which ones you will never want to do again! :)
I just finished bleach pen discharge dyeing. It was easy and fun! Because I have boatloads of commercial fabric, this was a great way to make it my own.
I look forward to your results!
Cheryl / Muppin
I did this a few years ago: winter dragged on through March and I was going cabin fever crazy, so I pulled out my 6 issues of Quilting Arts (not to make a blurb here or anything) and picked one design technique to try from each issue. Like Muppin, each technique got my full attention for one week. At the end of 6 weeks, I had some good stuff, some not so wonderful stuff and some stuff that I eventually combined. Two of the pieces have sold (just as a nice bit of encouragement), and I've used a couple of the techniques over again.
a couple of my favorite methods are
- sun printing. it is lovely just on a high thread count muslin. but fascinating on light colored commercial fabrics. because the sun paint is transparent, the color ofthe paint mixes with the color of the fabric. i used just one dark green paint, over a yellow/orange/red batik. and used pressed leaves and ferns as the shapes. when the paint was dry, the fabric is mostly green or brown, with lovely shading from the underneath colos of the fabric; and where the leaves were put down, an explosion of yellow, orange and red leaf shapes. and all i did was paint one color!
i used it as a background for alarge maple leaves quilt, from autumn colors; and it lends an incredible richness of color and detail to the background.(which otherwise could have been a bit boring, as it is all one fabric)
it is also fun to mix a bit of lumiere or pearl ex into the paint - and gives it that sparkle effect.
i have been using some of them for backgrounds for 2 series - the first i call friendship branches (named for a couple of inspirational friends) - where the sun painted fabric is used as a one piece background. and then dimensional branches of sheers or fabric or fused angelina are tacked on. then i add leaves or flowers or both) of silk leaves, or fused angelina leaves, or sheer leaves . andthen hand beading.
the second series is sea dreams - and the sun prints are done with fish and seaweed shapes. again the sunprinted fabric is quilted and then used as a one piece background for dimensional seaweed, and heavily embellished with hand beading, yarns, and shells. they each have a sea critter as focus point, several sea horses, one with a leafy sea dragon, and several in progress with mermaids.
another effect i like a lot is foiling - i have used it mostly to add words (i especially like it for japanese kanji symbols on asian themed quilts). and there are some lovely colors of foil available, even some multicolored ones.
I am a technique junkie. What I am doing this year is a technique quilt. I am taking what I have learned from working with paper and fabric and putting it on 6" blocks. I have been trying to do this weekly. Whenever I do something, I put it on my quilt. It will serve as a great memory quilt for me as well. I have a lot of pieces left from technique swaps and backgrounds that I have done nothing with that can become part of my quilt. These will become great visual cues for me in the future when I need a little inspiration. I am hand sewing my blocks together to try out different stitches.
One of my favorite things to do is something similar to what Pokey does with the Thermofax printing - it is the Photo EZ stencil printing on fabric. Once I get my stencils made, I assembly line the fabric printing. I have fabric all over the living room. My kids can't even walk around because of all the fabric laid out to dry,
Melly's soy wax printing is also a great thing to do. I am about to do some found object stamping on dyed muslin and am thinking about to doing it as a challenge on this forum. Will do it after I get some sleep!
Belinda aka crazyartgirl
Surface design is my passion. I talk a LOT about it in my blog, including fabric dyeing and screen printing, stamping and DSP. (http://approachable-art.blogspot.com)
Pippa, my best suggestion is to read some excellent how-to books and watch some excellent how-to videos. I launched into hand dyeing with one book... Fast, Fun and Easy Fabric Dyeing, by Lynne Koolish. Good book, sweet lady, worth every dime. Also, if you're interested in learning about screen printing or deconstructed screen printing then any video or book by Rayna Gillman or Kerr Grabowski will give you wonderful info.
For something more basic but still fun, like getting unusual mediums to fabric, read books by Ruth Issett or Sherrill Kahn.
My Blog My Art
Ooo... Belinda, can't wait to see what you do with your squares!
Thank you all! These are such great suggestions. I especially love the idea of trying out one new technique a week and making some kind of quilt or journal composed of all of them. Sun printing is particularly intriguing...
the sun printing is real fun. i love that the paints are transparenT - and thus they mix with each other and the color of the base fabric. some things i have had luck with - pressed leaves and ferns. make lovely natural designs.
the foamies come in lots of shapes - and several stylesof alphabets. just peel of the paper and they stick to the painted fabric well. and are great for writing names or words on the fabric. (kids love having their names on things they make)
i have had lace print great. also dribble string or yarn or thread - and it gives the benefit of a piece of string or yarn or thread which is now colored similar to the fabric and can be used to embellish (or the lace also)
salt makes fun secondary patterns too. or spray with a bit of isopropanol.
stars and snowflakes are fun. you can find all kinds of fun shapes at the dollar store to print with.
i have a couple large medallions - and they can be placed on top of the painted fabric - or the fabric can be put on top of the medallion - which gives the opposite effect - when you put the medallion on top, the printing comes out light; but when i put the medallion underneath the painted fabric, the medallion came out darker. after everything was dry, i added some extra metallic highlights with shiva painstiks.
i have had good luck with adding up to about 25% lumiere - to add sparkle; but it does make the fabric stiffer. it still sun prints though. and adding pearl ex works too. although some colors work better than others.
i live in the northwest, so i only sunprint during the summer when the weather is warm. but some places you could do it all year. ckquilter
I'll definitely be trying out leaves and gerns; I love natural designs in my quilts. Unfortunately, I'm not in one of those places where you can sun print all year. It's been snowing in Boston for the past two days so I might have to start my surface design explorations with snow dyeing!
Pippa, I live in western NY state - third least sunny place in the lower 48. I use plant lights or halogen desk lights to sun print in the winter. The cloth needs to be near the light, but not too close, as it needs both the light and the heat and the colors are somewhat paler, but it is very possible to do. LOL, if it weren't, I'd never get any done except on the two windless sunny days a year!
ck, I'd never thought of putting something under the fabric, hmm, may have to work some up this week.
note, if you do use desk lights on your work table, make sure you take your cutting mat off the table - the heat will warp it. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything, but a warped mat makes cutting just a bit harder ; 0
i live in the northwest - so my sun print days are like yours - limited. i just treat it like fresh fruit - parts of the year it is in season, and during the winter i use what i printed during the summer when the weather was warm. it just gives the year a nice rhythm.
i can prep fabric and gather supplies and make to do lists during the winter. spring i press leaves and flowers while cleaning and pruning the garden. and then they are all ready to go when the sun gets warm enough.
my table space is limited, and usually covered with fabric piles anyway. so i don't try to do any printing until the weather gets warm outside.
another thing i learned - the book i have says to use any diluted paint within a couple weeks. i have found that is not necessary. i once kept paint , diluted for use, from september to june (stored in the laundry room - so it did not freeze outside). and it printed just fine the following june. although i do try and use up the diluted paint each year, just so i don't have to store it. but sometimes i run out of warm paint days before i run out of ideas i want to paint for the year. ckquilter
i have been using the pebeo paint to sun print. but my local supplier has discontinued them. i can always mail order, but i prefer to buy local if possible.
i was checkingthe jacquard website, and they indicate their dy na flo will also sunprint. i have used it for other things, and like it a lot. i also like the idea of not having a whole bunch of different types of paint . what paint do you use for sun printing? and have you used dy na flo?
when i paint, i use the foam core boards to lay my fabric on. i can pin into it to hold the fabric and leaves in place; it is light and very easy to carry from the shade where i paint to the sun to dry. the small size is perfect for a fat quarter; and the display board size is just right for a yard.
thanks for any info on dy na flo sun printing you might have ckquilter
I have some dy na flo, but haven't used any yet. I bought it when the Michael's in Erie, PA sold off all of its high end fabric paints. I use Pebeo, most of which I now get from Dharma Trading Company, which means I do a big order in the summer or early fall so that it doesn't freeze in transport. I also get most of my pfd fabric there. I would buy more locally, but it just isn't available. I learned about dy na flo's sunprinting capabilities only after I bought it.
I have two bases for sunprinting. One is a piece of plastic paneling that my husband had leftover from remodeling our milkhouse (we have a dairy farm) which takes pieces 44" x 18". The other is a 1/4 thick piece of Plexiglas that takes 45" x 22". I also have a cafeteria tray that works for smaller pieces.
We are on the top of a windy hill and have very few windless days, so I have learned to put pebbles on the leaves and occasionally tape the fabric down. I usually paint in the house and then carry it out and place the leaves, etc., on outside.
Dyna flo works very well in England in August, I have also had good results with conventional fabric paint, (Colourcraft'' Advaprint) and even tube acrylic with fabric medium, the secret seems to be to use polycotton, wet the fabric well and dilute the paint so that it can move easily. I put the fabric on a plastic sheet (the base needs to be non absorbent) under a glass roof on a warm sunny day and leave it till it is dry. The paint migrates from shade to sun. I will try with a daylight lamp when I have finished my current C&G project.