Blog Archives

Fabric surface design workshop

Shiva Paintstick rubbing I’ve finally finished washing out all my dyed fabrics from last Saturday so have moved on to revisiting what I did last Sunday at the Surface Design Workshop with Lisa Walton. Yes, I had 2 days of fabric fun, followed by a week of very long hours. The audit to ensure my employer complies with the disability standards looms ever closer. I use the word ‘looms’ deliberately as I’ve been working towards this for months and it’s a bit of an unknown.

So given this is such a priority, I decided to go for a walk instead! I went in search of any interesting surfaces for some rubbings onto fabric. Unfortunately, this is a little tricky without tresspassing.¬†Mostly I just found manhole covers ūüė¶ (see picture above). Perhaps I need to go for a walk in a more stylish neighbourhood!

Dye Workshop fabric

Saffron (and a peek of Licorice) assisting with the photography

Since getting home I’ve been photographing some of the pieces I bought home from the workshops and some that I’ve done since. Of course, the girls have assisted as per usual. Pity they don’t help with policy writing!

Anyway, here are the photos of the fabric from the Dye Workshop. I have NO IDEA what I’m going to do with it. When I took the workshop I thought I would learn how to dye and possibly come home with a few pieces of fabric. There are over 24 fat quarters here (and no – they aren’t all orange, that’s just my camera not cooperating!)

Dye workshop - graduated set

Dye workshop with Lisa Walton – graduated set

I mostly used the more earthy pigments Lisa had available. When it came to my ‘graduated set’ I decided to use the fuschia mixed with something (I can’t remember what!) Anyway, I quickly discovered it was a little too pink in the lighter versions so I added black to most of the pieces and that’s why my fabrics are a little mottled. I’m still not keen on those really light ones. They scream ‘paint over me!’

I learnt my lesson and avoided the fuschia dye for the rest of the day. (I thought it would be more like alizaron crimson, or quinacridone crimson but clearly not. As it turns out I found that all my paint knowledge is fairly useless when it comes to dye colours – I really couldn’t predict what colour I was going to get (apart from the basic idea of hue). I did try to get an autumnal set and was quite happy with the outcome. Evidently there was a lot more staining power in the warm colours than the green as I ended up with 5 warm to 1 green but I’m not fussed. I like it anyway!

Dye workshop my autumnal colours

Dye Workshop – my autumnal colours

Finally, all the pictures below are either from the Surface Design Workshop or pieces I have done since using techniques from that day.

Lisa has just published the first in an ebook series called¬†Creative Journeys.¬†Last week she was very excited and couldn’t wait for its launch. Well mid-week, it arrived and is now¬†available through¬†amazon¬†or from¬†Lisa directly.¬†It’s on¬†Fun and Easy Textile Surface Design Techniques.

It includes many of the techniques we did last week and some more. Indeed, fabric painting is a lot of fun and pretty easy – especially when it comes to salt and sundyes.

Sundyed fabric with salt

Sundyed Fabric with salt

Sundyed fabric 3

Sundyed fabric

Sundyed fabric 2

More sundyed fabric

Using handcarved stamps on fabric

Handcarved stamps on fabric


Waste not! Stencilling on some of my clean up pieces

Handpainted fabric 6

Embellishing further with charcoal, inktense sticks etc.

Handpainted fabric 5

I didn’t bother washing my brushes. Consequently the ‘green metallic’ went more antique gold – but I like!

Handpainted fabric 4

Did anyone say autumn colours?

Handpainted fabric 3

Experimenting with rubbings

Handpainted fabric 2

More experiments with rubbings – mostly shiva paintstick

Handpainted fabric 1

Stencils and rubbings on handpainted fabric.

There’s gravy in my ear

What big ears you have

Safffron & Licorice in a post breakfast snooze

One of these days I’m going to pour gravy down Licorice’s ear. Every morning without fail I supply breakfast. I am a loyal subject and feed my 2 furry masters a generous helping. Despite this routine and commitment, Licorice seems to feel that unless she sticks her head over the bowl with great gusto that the food will not land in it. I know the day is coming when gravy will end up in her ear and I don’t really want to explain that to the vet. Perhaps it is this vigorous activity she has each morning that has helped to reduce her substantial girth. The last time the girls both went to the vets there was much cheering when Licorice tipped the scales at only 6 kilos and Saffron at 5.5!

While the girls have been busy losing weight, I’ve been creating a new art quilt for them to distribute their fur on. The first quilt I made is at Andrew’s place. The second I gave to mum for Christmas (last Christmas that is). This quilt is mine. I designed it inspired by Gustav Klimt paintings. I wanted something which suggested a female form but was not pictorial.

While I dabbled in painting fabric for the first quilt I did, this one has had a more concerted effort. It’s been fun making ‘art’ on fabric and then selecting pieces of it to sew into my quilt , together with store bought fabrics.

Quilt Centrepiece

Above is how it looked last Saturday. I’ve left it with my sewing teacher who is sourcing some woven interfacing to help stiffen the piece before trying to attach to the background. Interfacing or not… I’m expecting there will be a few curse words trying to fit the background into those curves. Still, it will be worth it in the end. A one of kind lap quilt for me to snuggle under… next winter!


Were you planning on quilting?

Saffron on the quilt... again

Were you planning on quilting today? Hmm… I have other plans. This is a nice comfy place to sit. I don’t want to move. And just to make extra sure you are hearing me, I’m giving you THAT look!

Handpainted quilting fabric: what not to do!

Piecing the handmade fabric into the quilt

Silk screen printing, hand carved spiral stamp and bird created by covering an applicut in lumiere paint and then pressing into fabric. (Applicuts are made for easy applique to a quilt – see

I think I’ve finally cracked it! I’ve tried a number of different mediums to combine with my regular acrylic paint to make them into ‘fabric paints’ with very mixed success. At last, I have found that print paste is my new best friend.

If you are thinking of creating your fabric for quilting then here’s a few of my ‘what not to do tips.’

Golden GAC 900

You can have too much of a good thing! I found that when I combined my paint with GAC 900, the result was often sticky. Perhaps I put too much but it seemed to be a fine line. For me, I want something that’s not as sensitive. That I didn’t have great success with this Golden product really surprised me. I am very attached to my golden paints and many of their mediums – they are simply a joy to use! However GAC 900 is being crossed off my list. Others my get it to work. I’m not that patient!

Permaset Supercover

Supercover = supertacky! I actually didn’t realise when I bought my black permaset textile paint that I had chosen Supercover. (Their paints come in standard and supercover). I think the idea is for a product which has a greater opacity. Unfortunately it gets a tacky feel which I really don’t like.

Believe your silk screen will stay clean

Every site I’ve read says it – don’t let your paint dry on your screen; clean it quickly. Well, it doesn’t seem to matter how speedy gonzales I am at getting the silk screen washed, my screen is not ‘clean’. What I soon discovered (after fretting I’d ruined my screen) is that it is more stained than dirty. I can still get really clear prints through it but I do have marks – particularly from phthalo green!

Believe you can stop at just one piece!

Piecing the handmade fabric into the quilt IIOriginally I’d only planned to put a small piece of my handpainted fabric into the quilt. I thought given I hadn’t put pieces in the centre parts that it would look like I’d tacked them on! With a dwindling supply of the fabrics already in the quilt, I’ve had to supplement. (At least that’s my excuse!)

Thinking starting with coloured fabric is a good idea! 

There are fiber artists out there who like to start with fabric which is already coloured – Lynn Krawczyk is one. She says she got tired of filling in the white spots! Perhaps it is because I’ve painted on paper and canvas first and fabric second, that I seem very attached to starting on white. I know how one colour layered on top of another will behave when I’m using paint. When I’m starting with a fabric colour, I’ve taken my art colour theory and adapted it – with very mixed results. I think it is because it’s hard to know the properties of the colour you are painting on. I stared at it for a while trying to decide whether it was a green or purple leaning blue; I deliberately chose a red loaded with crimson as usually you can make a beautiful purple out of a blue and red where each leans towards purple in it’s colour. I got dark mud instead! So, I’m sticking to start on white.

Forget to put gloves on

A lot of people recommend gloves whenever using any kind of paint for health reasons. In the case of silk screen printing, I’ve discovered that for reasons of ‘messiness’, the gloves are essentially. Somehow I regress back to a 2 year old and get it not only on my fingers but up my arms, elbows and on my clothes.

Think the cat will leave you alone

Wait until your cat is in a very deep sleep or suffer their curiousity you will!

So what is working?

Permaset Print Paste in combination with any of my acrylic paints seems to be producing a very consistent result. I like the Golden Fluid Acrylics the best but I think that’s just a result of my passion for them generally! Thicker paint does work and other brands seem fine – e.g. Matisse.

Lumiere Paints

As you need a fair bit of paint for silk screening, I’ve taken to using the lumieres for some embellishment on the top (see bird at top of this post) rather than using them through the screen. They do work beautifully as a screen print; it’s just me being stingy on my paint!

Waterproof Calligraphy pens

I’m loving the nice crisp line I can introduce with a calligraphy pen – especially amid the chaos that is my painting style! Now my quilt has the words ‘mad as a hatter’ up one side. It’s subtle enough that you can’ easily read it however still detectable.

I’m trying a few other things but I’ve yet to wash them so will let you know if they are a success!

Saffron and Yellow Handpainted and silkscreened fabric

Still in progress

My afternoon in pictures

Quilt progress

The quilt as at the end of today

Handpainted fabric

Continuing my attempts at handpainting fabric. This piece started as white, was then painted with burgundy lumiere, and then metallic bronze

Screenprinted fabric 2

Screeprinting I discovered is unpredictable, fun and very messy!

Screenprinted fabric

The piece of screenprinted fabric most likely to make it into the quilt.

Love my lumiere

Most of my artwork uses waterproof materials as otherwise half of what I had placed down would ‘melt away’ each glaze. Despite this, I’m finding I am still on a learning curve regarding what materials are waterproof enough to withstand machine washing.

Test piece III
I’m sure when Andrew suggested we make a quilt he didn’t think I’d be turning up with an assortment of fabric pieces asking for them to be test washed!

I had some failures. I had some victories.

Faber Castell PItt Pens
A stalwart of my painting to date, these have never bled ink on me in subsequent glazes. Still, I wanted to test the ‘permanence’ of this permanent marker before I got very excited with my quilt drawing. The Pitt Pen didn’t say to heat seat it prior to washing. I decided to iron one test piece anyway and discovered it fared slightly better than it’s non-ironed counterpart.

Caran D’ache Neocolor I
Another art supply I use frequently, Caran D’ache’s wax oil pastels are fantastic in glazed artwork (neocolor I, that is… I do wish one day the colour range you can get in the water-soluable neocolor IIs would be extended to the non-watersoluable variety). To test it out for the sewing machine, I used a Cedar Canyon rubbing plate (designed for use with Shiva Paintstiks). I then went over part of the design with Golden Medium GAC 900 and left part as is. I ironed all of it prior to washing.
Test pieces
Here is the result. The piece unprotected by the GAC 900 has all but vanished! The GAC 900 does leave the fabric with a ‘wet patch’ look about it but I figure if I paint the entire panel, no one would notice. The alternative is to put the medium straight into paint (unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to use a rubbing plate with paint yet!)

Golden Fluid Acrylics
The word Alice has been painted using a mix of Golden Fluid Acrylic and Jo Sonja Textile Medium. I’m sure Golden’s GAC 900 medium would work just as well, I just couldn’t find it at the time!
Test piece II
Shiva Paintstiks

I’m not going to show you a picture of the piece with Shiva Paintstiks post-wash. I ironed it. I let it dry for days. I didn’t iron it a second time. Some of it decided to leave during the washing process. I’ve since read an excellent tutorial on using Shiva Paintstiks from This is My Brain On Quilts. I plan to have another go!


Lastly, I couldn’t have a piece on paint on fabric without mentioning Lumieres. If I didn’t already own so many other paints, I think I’d just use Lumiere and Neopaque. I washed the pieces and I cannot tell the difference from the pre-wash photographs. Good news really, given the entire tree is painted in Lumiere Bronze metallic.

An Updated Photo

Please forgive the photo quality.
Starting piecingThanks to a long weekend, I’ve managed to make significant progress on piecing together the quilt. At the expense of housework of course!
PS: If you are wondering what that yellow line is near the bottom it’s the start of a swirl. It’s handstitched in thick silk. The photograph below shows a much smaller spiral which has been stitched in that lower right hand corner. The thick silk is hand dyed from The Thread Studio. I’ve already run out of the purple so will have to get some more!
Material with thick silk

A quilting collaboration

‘Why don’t we make a quilt which is our story?’

Detail of Quilt centre piece

Bronze metallic lumiere paint on purple cotton quilting; unfortunately photograph doesn’t show true colour of paint – see below for a better likeness

Ever since then, I’ve been playing around with different paints on pieces of fabric. It took some weeks before I summoned up the courage to just start painting. In the end, I opted for one of the easy options by using the lumiere paint. I didn’t need to put any additives to make it suitable for fabric. Also it had a thick enough consistency that it took to stenciling and freehand painting well where other options bleed. Still, I was tentative about starting.

To mitigate my nervousness I chose an affordable plain purple cotton quilting fabric as the backing.

The tree stencil, Andrew and I chose together. It came from Stencil Kingdom in the UK and it is enormous (over 40 inches wide) but spectacular. The original stencil is wider than it is long, however, in order to suit ¬†being part of a quilt, we’ve altered it slightly to reduce the width and increase the length. Much to Andrew’s delight, I volunteered him to do all the freehand joining bits!

Quilt centre piece

The colour here is a better likeness

In return, I got the task of hand-stitching on the black cat in the tree. Mister had a go at hand stitching and after a few moments complained that his hands hurt – a likely story! If anyone is wondering whether this cat is Licorice or Saffron, I can tell you it is neither. The reason for the black cat is that Andrew keeps telling me he needs a black one to go with the white and ginger one. He thinks then he will have one of each colour. Everytime he says this I point out that cats come in more than just 3 colours and our fur family is complete! So, to humour him, I have provided him with a black cat in spirit – or stitch! End of argument.

Of course, Licorice, Saffron, Pickle and Gesso will have to make an appearance somewhere in this collaborative effort. At this stage, Gesso will arrive in the form of a squirrel – one of his nicknames. He’ll be purple as white would stand out too much. I think it’s fine that Gesso is going to be an odd colour. He has painted himself with enough colours to date that he clearly doesn’t want to be white! As there was no way I was going to stitch a squirrel, I’ve ordered one from Applicuts.

As for the other three… well, time will tell how they appear in this piece!