Cracked Paper Quilts questions

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pandabolt wrote
on 27 Jan 2010 11:16 PM

I am so excited to be working on Carol Wiebe's cracked paper technique.  But I have a question for all you creative folks out there:

I have the background cracked, laddered, and densely quilted.  I love the work so far, but I now want to somehow knock back the white of the background without completely obscuring it. I want to maintain the black and white, but would like to add basically a glaze of red.  On the order of applying the color and then wiping it off, leaving just hints of the red on the background.

I am afraid that if I just add a watered down red to the existing piece that I will have it running all over and wicking.  What do you all suggest?  Should I apply a layer of something else first?  Gel Medium?  Will that let me do the staining that I want?  Am I correct in thinking that if I were to use gesso that I would loose a goodly portion of the design?

This piece is for a challenge: ( B+W+1) ~ 3= Art Quilt.  (Black plus white plus one color divided into three pieces).  This is why I want to maintain the original black and white background, but right now it is just too busy.  I need to temper that white.

And as long as I have your attention :), I would be curious to know where you might put the focal point of the piece once that background is behaving itself.  All I know at this time is that I want to have the focal point in red, and maybe somehow relate its shape to the Art Deco shapes in the background.  I really want to incorporate hand made beads, or embossing, or other methods of raising the surface some.  Perhaps cording, perhaps molding paste....I'm just not sure of that yet, as the background is getting in my way.

Or,..... I might want a black figure of some kind, depending on just how red that background turns.

I have done some experimenting with black tulle, and it does some nice things, but I really want to introduce that glazed red.  And while on that subject:  Are all glazing mediums the same?  Or do you have one that you recommend?  I have a bottle of American from Decoart. 

Here is what I have so far:

I have also been wanting to experiment with encaustic on something other than a wooden substrate.  Again, will the paper accept the wax, or would some kind of a finish be required first?


I know this is a lot of questions, but I only have one shot at this as the whole thing needs to be done in the next few days.

Thanks for any and all help you might be able to give me.


Peggy Holt

Missoula, Montana


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Pokey wrote
on 28 Jan 2010 4:19 AM

 Interesting piece, and I hope you post a picture when it's done! As far as focal point, since the background seems a bit busy (even though you are going to temper it down) I would suggest it be in the middle.

I have forwarded your questions to Carol and I'm sure she'll post her response shortly! 

Pokey Bolton

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TV Host, Quilting Arts on PBS

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carolwiebe wrote
on 28 Jan 2010 5:20 AM

First of all, Peggy, I love your piece. You have chosen some elegant graphics, and arranged them in such an attractive way.

There are a number of things I do to keep the graphics visible, and prevent wicking into all the “scales” of the cracked paper quilt surface. However, that is the nature of the surface and you are going to have some of that. It’s like trying to hide the grain of wood, or the snakeskin look of tulle.

If there is nothing else on the surface so far (you haven’t applied any medium), I would add a thin layer of liquid matte medium before I did anything else. The medium fills the needle holes and smooths the thread lines to some degree and protects your graphics. Let it dry completely. Then come in with watered down gesso. I prefer the Liquitex gesso, but use whatever has been your favorite in the past.  As you do this, have a cloth or paper towel handy to rub or blot on the graphics you want to preserve so that they are not obscured. (Golden’s Titan Buff paint also works well, but adds a slightly yellowing effect.  Liquitex has a white called transparent mixing white, to blend the graphics in, and smooth the stitched surface somewhat.)

I usually use the thinned out gesso coats several times, carefully apply and blotting or wiping. Every time I follow with the liquid matte medium, thinly, to preserve what I have just done.

I may use a pencil, or pen, or thin paintbrush and black paint, or even dimensional paint to emphasize any graphics, at this point, that have been obscured more than I want them to, but I do like them to ghost out in places.  If I do this, I pat the areas I have touched up after they have THOROUGHLY DRIED with a gel medium. At that point, I actually use a gloss rather than a matte, because I find the gels dry with a waxy look that also obscures graphics. If I am pleased with the end result, down goes another liquid matte medium layer.

And yes, I buy the liquid matte medium in the largest size I can find.

I don’t want all of the graphics to have equal value. I want to lead the eye around the piece by emphasizing more important areas with clearer, darker lines, and ghosting out others. If I really want an area to pop, I print out that graphic again, and do the paper appliqué I wrote about in the article you mentioned, or add something entirely new!

Once I am happy with my surface, and my last layer is an overall matte medium, I am now ready to glaze. I would suggest a high quality glaze, like Golden Fluid Acrylics.  I put the fluid acrylic into the liquid matte medium and apply it very lightly, again, patting in areas where I think it is getting too dark. You may have to do this quite a few times to gradually build up the color where I want it, and still keep it subtle. A thin glaze with just a hint of color is best. It has to dry in between to see how it is actually going to look.

I am delighted that you are enjoying the Cracked Paper Quilt method, Peggy. It has brought me a lot of joy.

Write me if you have any further questions, and please let me know if this was helpful. Share any other methods you came up with that worked for you. But most of all, please share the final result!


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pandabolt wrote
on 28 Jan 2010 10:42 AM

Thank you  both for your replies.  Yes, Pokey, I agree that it is a very busy piece right now.  That was basically the intent, I guess.  I knew that a lot of it would become covered giving me that mysterious effect.  It would be fun to work with this as the main part of the quilt, but size constraints also come into play with this challenge, and this piece fits within that parameter.

Carol, your suggestions help a lot.  I have printed them out, and will now see if I can come up with some possibilities.  I have never really seriously used gesso or the medium, so I was somewhat hesitant to proceed.  Basically, I don't want to alter the paper itself, but wanted to seal it in some way before adding the layer of color.

And the final kicker at this point is that my husband likes the piece as is, and has warned, "don't go messing this up!"  I hate to tell him, that basically, it will be totally altered by the time the piece is truly finished!  I know, however, that this is essentially a substrate for the next step.

I have some possibilities in mind for the next layers; just need to get this background to do what I envision.

Ever onward.  Hopefully this will be finished by the first of next week. 

Thanks again for your insight, and I would definitely entertain any other comments from anyone else who wants to chime in.  Art Quilt by Committee.  LOL

Peggy Holt

Missoula, Montana


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cjlantier wrote
on 2 Mar 2010 2:19 AM

Do you have a picture of the final quilt piece? I know from reading on the CPS forum that you weren't completely happy with it at one point, and I'd love to see how you pulled it all together!

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pandabolt wrote
on 2 Mar 2010 11:26 AM

Well, here are some photos of the finished piece.  It's okay.  Not great; not completely awful, I guess.


It actually doesn't fade out on the wall as much as this picture shows it. I think I used a flash and it washed it out some.   I have a red wall in my music room; I may have to hang it there if I hang it anywhere.


I do like how the reflection turned out.  And it was totally unplanned.  I had that piece of mica and the scrapbooking oval of red rhinestones.  A reflection seemed like a good idea.  I cut out a second image and used the wrong side of it.







and this is just a closeup of the bead work.


It was a good exercise, and I received lots of nice comments on it.  I definitely want to do more cracked paper.  I want to treat it like a canvas substrate and try some encaustic among other things.  I have some ideas but they will probably be on hold for a while as I have just been contacted by AQS that they have accepted my manuscript for a quilting book!  So now I am an author for a few months while I expand the text and buckle down to some serious work on my longarm.  Art quilts will still get done somehow, though.  I need both to feel complete. 


Isn't life great?


Thanks for your interest in this piece which I have named : "Not All It's Cracked Up To Be" .  A little tongue in cheek.

Peggy Holt

Missoula, Montana


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on 4 Mar 2010 7:15 AM

Peggy - Great job! I really like what you did and wish I had been around prior to you finishing it up. Congratulations on your manuscript being accepted!! You go with your bad self - it's going to be a great book and I can't wait to read it.  Yay, you!

I just started playing with my encaustics - and I used them on the front of a journal cover I started. I was just messing around, seeing what different colors look like and what different tools did. I'm not at all impressed with what I have so far...but I'll share it with you. I didn't do anything to the paper before using the encaustic wax - and it seems to be on there. And on there well. It was a little messier than I expected - but it's honestly the first time I'd ever touched the stuff. I got Suze Weinberg's Hot Wax Stylus in the mail that day - and just had to play. The flowers are the encaustic portion. It's a lot more controlled than I like...but oh well. Now I kind of have the feel for the tool and the wax. :)

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