The Universe is displayed in color. Vast stretches of vivid spectrums of lightness and darkness. Nature just flows in hues, shades and tints just waiting to be admired. I have always loved color. My boxes of crayola crayons and coloring books used to help soothe my tummy aches when I was little — they gave me immense joy.
While looking at my collection of fabric, I noticed a surprising trend. Beige. With all of my fascination with color I seem to have a thing for beige toned fabric. I think it’s because beige evokes a quiet calmness that I gravitate to. On the other side of that is my adoration for purple which has a magical and mysterious quality. Purple is my favorite color but I don’t wear it much and my fabric choices don’t reflect that. Artists are funny creatures.
All of this color introspection led to me to a decision. I am using up all of my paint and revamping my palettes. I will only buy certain colors and use particular palettes for various themes. My crayons, painsticks, inks, embossing powders and other surface design and marking tools will find their way into my work as they fulfill some sort of creative need.
I randomly plopped, spilled and then scrunched paint on mid-weight printed fabric, drill (a sort of canvassy type fabric) and canvas scraps. It was so much fun. I didn’t want to stop so I kept making more and more pieces. The result was some wildly seredipititous combinations that I will use for various projects.
I had been on quite a lengthy quest to develop my art brand. What I mean by that is coming up with a signature style so that when the viewer looks at a piece they will know that it is actually my work. Needless to say this is not an easy task especially since my tastes change like the weather. A couple of things that have stayed true with me have been my love of fabric and collage.
Some artists use the same color thread or the same basic materials and color palettes. A running theme regarding subject matter is even part of some artist’s signature style. Me — I like anything and everything so narrowing down elements has been quite the challenge.
Ultimately, I decided to go with mixed-media fabric collage with a spiritual touch; noting particular constants and basic themes. We’ll see how that goes.
Hand dyed cheesecloth
Fabric paper scraps
Foil sheet – rainbow stripes
Mod Podge Fabric Glue
Sharpie – dark green
Thread – variegated
The fabric paper quilt top was made by saturating muslin with diluted Elmer’s glue then topping it with strips of tissue paper and cheesecloth. I ripped and randomly placed both the paper and cheesecloth in a way that allowed some of the paper to show through. Unpatterned placement in art tends to add interest and texture. After it dried, I made the quilt sandwich and free-motion stitched for additional texture and color. The dress is canvas that was colored with foil using foil glue and a bone folder to rub it on. The dress was outlined with a dark green sharpie to give it some dimension. I manipulated fabric paper scraps I had in my scrap bag and made the pin and apron. Making the pleats in the apron and the gathers in the pin was not an easy feat. The paper tore but I didn’t mind at all. In fact, it turned out to be a happy accident because of the textured look it created. I’m into texture, wonky and messy. Can you tell? But I digress. The apron was machine stitched to the dress. The fabric paper pin and glass beads were hand stitched on. The last step was gluing the dress to the background using fabric glue.
Tip: Outlining an element or motif with a dark or contrasting color can really add dimension and interest. If you find your piece is looking flat or washed out, trying outlining.
6) “gold speckled heart“
Golden Fluid Acrylics – burnt sienna, phthalo green
Golden Gel Medium Coarse Molding Paste
Gold leaf flecks
Ornate heart stencil
Polyester thread – copper
After covering the Gelli plate with paint using a brayer, I placed the text stencil on top of it then carefully laid the muslin on top. The same was done for the heart and bands of color. I placed the heart stencil back over the initial heart print and stenciled on coarse molding paste that I mixed with gold leaf flecks using a palette knife. After everything dried, I made the quilt sandwich and free-motion quilted the heart.
Tip: Gold leaf flecks tend to float around a lot. They are beautiful but not all that easy to work with. Work slowly and deliberately with the medium.
The little girl who used to love her new box of crayons and coloring book resurfaced within me when I began this sampler. The markers took on a life on their own and I just began drawing shapes, filling up with muslin with color. I sprayed it with alcohol which causes the inks to bleed and merge into each other. The fumes were pretty strong. The smell eventually dissipated as it dried. The muslin was put on top of the felt batting and I added the embroidery. The jewels were glued on and the quilt was assembled.
Tips: Use gloves and protective eye glasses when working with alcohol. Also, work in a well ventilated space.
The project is finally complete. Time surely flies when life happens.
I made fourteen sample mini art quilts in addition to the initial 3D applique technique quilt. Each one is 6″x 8″ and has three techniques and/or elements from the list except for the last one which has four. They are all bound with a zig zag stitch, have raw edges and a cotton fabric backing. Any applique work was also done with raw edges. Here a is link to how the project changed from it’s original intent.
I will post them in a series of three quilts at a time and include a list of the supplies I used, a summary of each piece, and some tips for anyone who might want to try a little mixed-media.
This exercise was so much fun but it was challenging at times. I learned a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t. For instance, I will probably never do fabric manipulation using fabric paper ever again. The paper was too stiff and difficult to work with. The results of spraying alcohol on fabric in order to create a marker bleeding effect was not worth the fumes. I also learned some new techniques that I absolutely love and will incorporate again and again in my pieces. Low loft batting looks amazing painted and sealing tea bag paper with polymer medium yields a cool leathery look.
Playing with unfamiliar materials is a great way to experiment and ease out of your comfort zone as an artist. Sometimes we can get bogged down in repetition using only the supplies we’re used to and get stuck in a creative rut.
Perhaps I would have never uncovered any of the useful lessons I learned had I stayed in my little artistic cove of fear — afraid to open my bottles and jars which were moving closer and closer to their expiration dates — standing there wondering about my mysterious unopened packages of colorful painting tools. I finally, bravely ventured out. One of the greatest things an artist can do.
During the process of reinventing my ways of creating, I discovered fun again. Simply working from my heart rather than spending a lot of time researching color trends or focusing on impressionism because “it’s what sells,” has been so liberating. Making art should be freedom personified.
One of the reasons I love mixed-media is because it’s so forgiving. Anything and everything goes — I had forgotten that. Treating my supplies with a tentative preciousness. Keeping everything neat and sedate rather than just diving in, making mistakes and making an artistic mess, all the while learning and creating heartfelt pieces of art.
It’s a good thing mixed-media fiber art is not all about perfection. I’m the Jackson Pollock of stitching. But I like haphazard lines and raw edges. The handmade look carries with it an authenticity which I aspire to.
I haven’t posted for a while. Feels good to be writing again.
It’s the first day of Spring!
This image is from Vintage Printables. They have a beautiful of selection of public domain pics. I photoshopped this one to give it the rainbow sun.
In the elusive pursuit of having the discipline to make art daily and because of my recurrent indecision about how to begin a project, I have decided to adhere to a list of surface design ideas which I compiled one day while procrastinating. The intention is to incorporate each individual technique or element on the list into a project everyday sticking to the alphabetical order. Here is the list if anyone would like to play along:
burning (safely using a heating tool)
drawing with pen/ink
painting fusible web
printing/painting using found objects
This should be a fun and challenging exercise. Why am I doing this again? Oh yeah. That discipline thing. I’ll start tomorrow. Wish me luck!
Okay. So my home sale hiatus is officially over. No excuses. I have resumed creating–making bags and things, refreshing my soldering skills, etc. I also applied to a local show. I haven’t heard back from them but I’m hopeful that no news is good news.
Collage looks easy because it seems like a jumble of stuff put together randomly without rhyme or reason but making the various elements make sense is a process. It is a fun process though. Fabric collage is an especially good time for me because I get to dabble and play with all of that beautifully designed cloth with little fear of making a mistake. And if I feel I have made a mistake, it’s okay because fabric art is fixable using an old standby called “mixed-media.” A little (or a lot) of gesso and some paint is all it takes to start anew. Thank goodness for paint.