Fabric Surface Design: Painting, Stamping, Rubbing, Stenciling, Silk Screening, Resists, Image Transfer, Marbling, Crayons & Colored Pencils, Batik, Nature Prints, Monotype Printing

Fabric Surface Design: Painting, Stamping, Rubbing, Stenciling, Silk Screening, Resists, Image Transfer, Marbling, Crayons & Colored Pencils, Batik, Nature Prints, Monotype Printing

by Cheryl Rezendes


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Sensational sewing projects demand fabulous fabrics! Fiber artist Cheryl Rezendes shows you how to create an astonishing array of surface designs, simply and safely, using textile paints and printing ink. She covers a wide variety of techniques: stamping, ancient Japanese Shibori, silkscreen, soy wax and flour resist, image transfer, marbling, nature printing, foils and metal leaf, and more. Step-by-step photographs illustrate every technique, and Rezendes includes innovative suggestions on how to combine and layer techniques for stunningly original results.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781603428118
Publisher: Storey Books
Publication date: 03/26/2013
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 363,186
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Cheryl Rezendes is the author of Fabric Surface Design. Rezendes received her training as a painter at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. After graduation she made her living as a custom clothier while pursuing her own artwork as a mixed-media collage artist. Cheryl has worked as an art teacher, interior designer, and art columnist for a daily newspaper. Both her fine and wearable art have been exhibited in shops and galleries throughout the United States. She currently teaches fabric surface design to adults and lives in Bernardston, Massachusetts.

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Setting Up Your Work Area

It's always easier to have a space to work where you can leave your projects and materials out, but whether you have a beautiful studio space separate from your home or you're using your kitchen table, it's still possible to have great results from your artistic efforts. With the addition of roll-away storage cabinets for art supplies, and a portable work surface and design board, the sky's the limit for what you can accomplish even in a limited amount of space and time.

Creating Your Work Surface

For most of the techniques covered in this book, your work surface should be firm with a little padding. I made my worktables by mounting 3/4-inch plywood on adjustable, industrial workbench legs ordered from an industrial-supply catalog (see Resources for sources). I used a full sheet of plywood, which measures 4 by 8 feet for the top. If your space isn't large enough for that size, however, have the plywood cut down to the size you can manage, at the lumberyard or at your local home-improvement center.

Cover the plywood with 2-inch foam insulation, which comes in 2-by-8-foot sheets with tongue-and-groove cutouts on the two long sides. Using a long bread knife, you can easily cut the foam to fit the dimensions of your plywood. Use good-quality duct tape if you need to butt any of the cut ends together to fit your table.

I put several layers of white craft felt on top of the foam. I like the brightness of the white felt as a background for my work. On top of the felt, I lay 6 mm plastic sheeting, purchased at my local hardware store. The sheeting is long enough to come down the sides of the foam and then fold up to the underside of the plywood. I then use duct tape to secure the plastic to the plywood.

This foam, felt, and plastic padding provides a firm surface with a little give, which is ideal for stamping and silk-screening, with the added bonus that if you need to hold down the edges of your fabric while you work, you can push straight pins right down into the foam. When you start to see color coming through to your white felt (because of all the pinholes), you'll know that it's time to change the plastic. But if your plastic is just paint covered, you can easily wash it clean. My mom, who often helps me out in the studio, has washed my plastic-covered tabletops many times with Bon Ami and a sponge with great results.

If you can't set up a permanent work surface in the space you have, don't despair. Have a piece of plywood cut down to a size that fits on top of an existing table in the area. As long as you don't sit on the edges of the plywood, it can easily extend beyond your existing table by as much as 6 inches on all sides. Cut the insulation foam to fit the plywood, adhere them to each other with self- adhesive Velcro, then cover with the felt and plastic as described above. Be sure to protect the finish on your table by covering it with a pad or blanket before laying the plywood down. When you're finished working, you can simply pick up this portable tabletop and store it in your basement or garage. If you live in a small apartment, stash it under your bed or behind a tall piece of furniture.

If you're happy with the overall size of your existing table, you can skip the plywood and lay the foam insulation directly on your table. If you are careful, the foam can extend a few inches beyond the table to extend your working surface. You can also use carpet foam for the padding. It's not very thick, so you can't pin into it as you work, but it's easy and convenient because you can roll it up to store it.

Organizing Your Tools

Keep your tools organized in plastic bins, on shelves, or in drawers. Label all the bins so you can find things easily and quickly while you work. If you have to put everything away when your work session is over, plastic drawer units on wheels work beautifully. When you're done, you can simply roll them away to a closet, garage, or basement.

The Value of a Design Board

It's extremely helpful to have a place where you can hang up your work while you're still creating it. Even small pieces look very different when you view them hanging, compared to looking down at them from the short distance between your nose and the table. You can use an ordinary bulletin board for this purpose. I have a 4- by-8-foot sheet of Homasote nailed to my wall. This is made of compressed paper fiber used for insulation and for sound control, which you can buy at a lumberyard or home-improvement center. Alternatively, the same 2-inch-thick insulation foam you used for your tabletop can also be used as a portable design wall. Two sheets will give you a design wall that is 48 inches wide by however high you want it to be. Fit the tongue-and-groove sides together, then use duct tape down the length of the seam. Paint it white or use spray adhesive to cover it with white felt or a piece of flannel cut to size. The beauty of covering it with flannel or felt is that your fabric pieces will adhere to the flannel without using pins. Use the duct tape like a hinge to simply fold the wall in half before putting it away.

If you don't have a wall or a bulletin board to use as a design board, or if your piece is too wet or has too many unattached layers to hang up, then carefully place it on the floor. With even more care, stand on a stool or your chair to get some visual distance between you and your artwork. Do this frequently while you work. I am still surprised at the difference this viewpoint can make.

Equipment Needs ... and Niceties

Every technique in this book requires a specific list of necessary supplies. But just as a recipe book might include a list of ingredients that every cook should have on hand in their pantry closet, there are basic supplies that every surface design artist should have on hand as well. Think of these as your pantry closet staples.

• Several gallon-size containers and buckets or pails. Easy access to water is important, but before I had the benefit of running water in my studio, I used plastic gallon containers and buckets. I filled the gallon containers with water and kept them close at hand for mixing with paint and to fill smaller containers for brush washing. I dumped the gray water into the pails or buckets to be hauled off to the kitchen when full. Remember to give all your brushes a good wash under warm running water and soap when you are done.

• Small plastic containers with covers. These are useful for saving mixed paint.

• Spray bottles. Be aware that all spray bottles are not alike! Some spray in a fine, even mist, while others dribble all over everything. Both have their appeal and uses. You can buy small spray pump bottles at drugstores, dollar stores, and beauty- and art- supply stores, as well as from catalogs and online.

• Brushes of all kinds and shapes. There's no limit to the kinds of brushes you can use, including watercolor brushes, stencil brushes, foam brushes, Chinese wash brushes, inexpensive bristle brushes, and basting brushes for cooking. I even use feather dusters from the dollar store as brushes.

• Plastic spoons. These are useful for scooping out paint.

• Palettes for mixing paint. Many flat, white surfaces work for this purpose. For instance, the disposable foam trays that meat comes on work very well, and you can feel good about making extra use of them before sending them to the landfill. I also like to use small, square, ceramic plates sold at kitchen-supply stores, or look for white plates and bowls at the local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other secondhand stores as well as tag sales. It's important that the surface you spread and mix your paint on be white or a neutral gray, as any other color will change the appearance of your paint color.

• Sponges. You can use the synthetic type found at the grocery store, as well as small natural sponges available in the pottery section of your local art-supply or craft store.

• Scissors. At the very least, you'll need one pair of scissors for paper and one pair for fabric; small embroidery scissors come in handy, too.

• Rotary cutter. I've been very happy with the Olfa brand rotary cutters, which are available at fabric and craft stores.

• X-Acto knife. I like using one with a #1 handle and a size 11 blade.

• Self-healing cutting mat. Often used by quilters, these cutting mats are marked with a helpful grid for guidance when you need to measure. Get as big a size as your budget allows and one that fits nicely on your work surface. These are available at fabric and craft stores.

• Brayers. The Rollrite Multi-Purpose 4-inch foam brayer, model #94B from Testrite Visual Products is the best for the techniques in this book. These are available at Dick Blick art- supply stores (see Resources for Dick Blick online store).

• Plexiglas. Have on hand several sheets of Plexiglas measuring approximately 8 by 10 inches. Your local glass, hardware, or home-improvement store will have this.

• Permanent markers (such as Sharpies). Supply yourself with both regular and fine-point markers.

• Pencils and white plastic or kneaded erasers for use on paper. There are never enough! Soft pencils work best on fabric because you can draw a very light line. In general, pencil is very hard to remove from fabric, so if you don't want the pencil lines to show at all, use a pencil designed for use on fabric, such as one made by Fons & Porter; this also comes with an eraser.

• Plastic sheeting (4 mil). This comes either in a roll or folded and is available at your local hardware, paint, or home- improvement store. Some of the techniques in this book are messier than others. Plastic sheeting will protect your work surface, but you may also want to lay down an additional piece of plastic sheeting that measures slightly larger than your fabric. When you're finished with an especially messy project, you can use the added layer of plastic as a sort of tray for transferring your wet work to another location for drying, thus freeing up your work surface for the next project.

• Painter's tape. I prefer the blue variety because it's easy to remove, doesn't leave a sticky residue, and is easy to find on a tableful of supplies!

• Baking parchment paper. Available at grocery and kitchen-supply stores, this will be used to protect your iron while heat-setting paint and fusing fabric.

• Chocolate and dry-roasted almonds ... of course! (Or your own preferred snack.)


Exploring Your Media

The determination of which textile paints to work with is a personal one. As with most art supplies, when you buy textile paints you get what you pay for. The less-expensive brands tend to have more fillers and less actual pigment, and they may not be lightfast. If you're a beginner and feel that you're "just experimenting," you might think it makes sense to start with lesser-quality supplies. It will be hard to learn from those experiments, however, if your end result lacks that extra zing simply because your paints aren't capable of producing the vivid color you're after. How will you be able to accurately determine whether the disparity is your lack of experience or whether the problem instead is inherent in your materials?

In addition, you never know how successful your early work will be, and if you come up with something quite striking, you may be disappointed that you didn't use the best-quality supplies you could afford. On the other hand, if you're working with kids, top-of-the- line textile paints may not be necessary. There are many brands on the market to choose from. Keep in mind that your choices of brand and paint consistency are often determined by the project you're working on, so do your homework: knowledge of a variety of paints and mediums will come in very handy as you become more experienced and more involved with your work.

In what follows, I go over those paints that I'm most familiar with and what I recommend to use when you're starting. In time, however, you should try them all. Form your own opinions. New products are surfacing all the time, and some of them, I am sure, are quite good and may rival any of my current favorites.

Textile Paints

I predominantly use paints designed specifically for textiles on my fabric pieces. In developing these paints, manufacturers have given attention to their colorfastness, application characteristics, and color intensity, while hardly changing the hand (or feel) of the finished painted cloth. All textile paints are water-based acrylics, which means that not only can they be diluted and mixed with water, but they can also be cleaned up with just soap and water. And although they may have a scent, there are no fumes.

I divide textile paints into four categories: thin, transparent, opaque, and metallic. The consistency of these paints ranges from thin (like dye) to heavy (like pudding), as described below. In addition to the character of the paint as it comes from the jar or bottle, auxiliary mediums are available from all textile paint companies that greater enhance the flexibility and usage of their paints.

Thin. Thin paints have the consistency of dye or water, and so they can easily be applied using a spray bottle. By nature they are always transparent. Think of these paints as being like watercolors.

Transparent. These paints have some body, but they are still transparent. Even if you use them straight out of the bottle, you can see through them. This means that they will not completely cover existing paint on the surface of your piece; you will always see through them to the painted or printed fabric below, even if only faintly.

Opaque. Opaque paints have body, too, but you cannot see through them, and they should cover any existing paint you have already put on your piece. They are best used on dark fabrics.

Metallic and pearlescents. These paints have not only body but also sheen and/or bits of metal.

This may seem overly complicated at first. If you find it too overwhelming, think of this information as something you can come back to after you become familiar with the different processes and mediums. You may want to just skip through all the details that follow and simply use my recommendations for how to get started in the box above.

The brands of textile paints that I am most familiar with are distributed by Pébéo, Jacquard, and PRO Chemical & Dye. (For websites, see Resources.) I trust these companies to produce consistent, quality paints. The chart on the following spread includes the paints I use regularly.

Artist Acrylic Paints

Many textile artists use artist acrylic paints on their fiber art pieces with great success. The secret to converting traditional acrylics to a paint that works well with cloth is a product called textile medium. Textile medium makes the paint a bit more fluid, with the result that it's easier to apply and is less likely to crack when dry; the painted fabric is also more flexible. I am most familiar with Liquitex and Golden Artist Colors acrylic paints and mediums. Golden has extensively tested their acrylic paints on fabric, and consequently they have the largest variety of paint and mediums recommended for use with textiles, depending on the technique and desired end results. Both lines include a variety of mediums recommended for use with textiles, depending on the technique and the end results that you desire. I have found these products to be unsurpassed in quality. See Golden Artist Colors Acrylic Paints on the next page for advice on what products to use for which purposes.

If you choose to use artist acrylic paints on fabric, keep in mind that some products require that the painted fabric be heat-set, while others do not. Follow the individual manufacturer's directions.

I also recommend several additional products from Liquitex and Golden for some of the techniques in this book: Liquitex Fabric Medium and Flow Aid, and Golden's GAC 900 fabric/textile medium and Silk-Screen Fabric Gel. Without question, if you are going to buy only one textile medium, go for Jacquard Textile Color Colorless Extender.


Excerpted from "Fabric Surface Design"
by .
Copyright © 2013 Cheryl Rezendes.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

An Invitation to Design

Part One: Surface Design Fundamentals

1 Setting Up Your Work Area

2 Exploring Your Media

3 Selecting Your Fabric

4 Painting the Base

5 Adding Texture

Part Two: Surface Design Techniques

6 Stamping and Relief Printing

7 Stenciling Techniques

8 Nature Printing

9 Monotype, Collagraph, and Gelatin Prints

10 Silk-Screen Printing

11 Working with Resists

12 Image Transfer

13 Marbling Methods

14 Fold and Color

15 Drawing on Fabric

16 All That Glitters

17 Sewing: As Accent, Embellishment, and Texture

Part Three: A Designer's Notebook

Inspiration and Record Keeping

Basic Color Theory

Composition 101


Reading List



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