Category Archives: Techniques

As I Was Saying…

I made an impulse buy of Marabu wax pastel crayons at my local arts and crafts store. These lipstick-like markers can be diluted with water or applied thickly for intense color. They are designed primarily for mixed media uses, not for fabric. But…I decided to try them out.

I gathered a variety of fabric scraps for my trials. Most were all cotton. Two were primarily synthetic. I drew letters, scribbled, diluted my lines with water, applied the crayons over dry and wet fabrics, and made rubbings from textured plates. Here’s the results of my first trials before immersing some of them in water.

After 24 hours I soaked my scraps in lukewarm water to test for color fastness and found lots of color loss. Definitely not a product to use on any fabric that will be washed or exposed to water.

However, I liked the feel of using the crayons enough to do further experimentation. I watched a few videos about this product and decided to try smearing, stenciling, and rubbing.

Green silk organza stenciled with Marabu crayon. The crayon is good for stenciling because it doesn’t run (unless you add water.)

Rubbings applied on Pellon 830 with dry crayon, then sprayed with water. I started to outline the shapes in the smaller rubbing with ink. With this technique you’d need to be sparing with the water used, otherwise your design will wash out.

Thick application of crayon on Pellon 830, sprayed with water, then hand rubbed with plate under fabric. I like this effect, though you don’t get much smearing of the crayon on fabric. The videos show lots of smearing on paper.

Heavy scribbles on cotton fabric with water applied lightly by brush. This shows the transparent effects possible with the crayon.

Conclusions:

It’s an interesting product for adding lots of intense color to areas, not so good for fine detail drawing. It is literally like drawing with a lipstick.

It is blendable with water, and works well when applied to damp surfaces.

The lack of color fastness is a major drawback for use in working quilts, not so much for display pieces. The manufacturer says it sets up after 24 hours and can’t be reactivated, but I don’t think they plan for full immersion.

It’s probably not the most cost effective product of this type on the market, especially because it spreads so easily you’d (at least I’d) be tempted to use lots at a time. I believe it’s comparable to Gelato crayon markers.

Will I buy more? Probably not, unless the price is deeply discounted.  The price I paid was about $2.50 a marker.

If you’ve tried this product I’d love to hear about your experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photoshop Fripperies

Now that I’ve completed part 2 of the Pixeladies’ photoshop classes I’m officially a menace to all pictures I’ve taken. It’s so easy to change up a photo’s looks with filters and assorted other bells and whistles. No more worries about composition as I can fix it. I don’t think that’s a good thing, as I can become lazy and lose the knack of composition. However, when you’re on a tour bus and you have only a few seconds to take a picture, it’s a great fall back.

Here are examples of my play with photos. The original photo is first (I hope), then the altered photo.

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I have no idea if I’ll use any of these in a quilt, but it sure is fun to play with the possibilities. I recommend the Pixeladies’ classes, but I don’t think they’ll offer the ones I took until next year.

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Demystifying PhotoShop

This year I’ve vowed to get better at photography. No more crooked or bowed photos of quilts. My spare room now is accessorized with a tripod and lights.

I’m a few weeks into an online class in PhotoShop Elements. I know there’s cheaper/free photo editing software available, but the issue for me is always learning how to use it. My class has already been useful as I clean up and straighten quilts in old photos.

One fun task was abstracting a photo. This is sometimes known as posterizing an image. I know some software will do this automatically, but we’re learning the layers way, which gives more flexibility. I’ve been experimenting with photos from my last year’s Around Here posts.

These abstractions get even cooler when you invert them.

I’m beginning to know enough to become really dangerous.

 

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Artistic Endeavors – Color Generator

You may already know about color generator tools, or have a favorite one, but I found the Color Palette Generator for a hex color palette a fun way to pass a cold, snowy afternoon. What’s a hex color palette, you ask?

According to Dan’s Tools:

Digital color can be represented in a number of ways. The most common ways to represent color on the web are via a 6-digit HEX number, RGBA, and HSL (Support for HSL was added in CSS3).

  • Hex is a 6-digit, 24 bit, hexidecimal number that represents Red, Green, and Blue. An example of a Hex color representation is #123456, 12 is Red, 34 is Green, and 56 is Blue. There are 16 million possible colors.
  • RGBA is similar to Hex in that it has 24 bits for RGB color, bit there is an additional 8 bit value for transparency.
  • HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Lightness. The values are based on a position from the center of a color wheel. The value for Hue is from 0 to 360, representing the degrees on a color wheel. Saturation is the distance from the center of the color wheel. The L stands for Lightness, which represents the preceived liminance of the color.

So, in a nutshell, it’s a six digit number for a specific RGB color used with digital design. I gather it’s useful for working with PhotoShop. You can get a color map of about 1500 color chips from Spoonflower.

If you don’t care about all that, but want to identify the colors in a photo, paste in your photo on the Color Palette Generator and see what you get. Here’s one of my results. You could use the six digit number on each color chip to match colors for printing fabric.

 

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My Scrap-a-thon

I store my fabric scraps in containers of big chunks, little chunks, and strips. I have been known to rummage in trash cans after a group sewing session. My parents were children of the great depression so I absorbed the lesson to save leftovers by their example. When I noticed that I couldn’t fit the lid on my container of less than 1.5 inch wide strips I decided it was time to create fabric out of those strips. (I also have containers of 1,5 inch, 2 inch, and 2.5 inch strips.)

Here’s what was left after I pulled out all the strips I thought I could use. These leftovers are mostly multi-colored prints that don’t play well with others and want to hog the show. Some of the strips even ended up in the trash.

First I sorted the strips into color families and values.

Then I sewed the strips together. I’ll treat these as whole pieces of cloth when I use them, even though some (such as that pink in the purple) contain zingers.

Of course, I found other candidates for cloth making in my “to be filed” pile, so I sewed them together, too.

My boxes of small chunky scraps are next up for fabric creation. I have an idea to make a crazy quilt bullseye piece for an Ohio SAQA challenge. Wow, I sure have a lot of blue and blue-green scraps.

In case you think I’m a bit obsessive about scrap hoarding collecting, check out this quilter’s organization system.

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Tracing Cloth Play

A chance discovery of Pellon 830, called Easy Pattern, led me to experiment with ways to use it. Pellon calls it an interfacing-tracing cloth. I bought a bolt of it to make a sample pattern for my silk vest (Why a bolt? It was a 60% off sale and the usual price was $2.48/yard. You do the math.) That went well as 830 sews nicely, but then I began to wonder about other uses.

Out came the paints, the watercolor pencils, the crayons, the stamps, and the brushes. First, I soaked pieces of 830 in containers filled with diluted fabric paint, which resulted in soft pastels. Then I began to stencil and stamp it.

I fused some of the colored 830 to Wonder Under, cut it up and ironed it to fabric. Then I quilted it. I found that it doesn’t fray and even three layers are quite thin.

On other experimental fronts, I traced stencils with markers and found the result to be crisper than on fabric.

Then, I traced a flower from a quilt photo (the 830 is translucent), colored it with watercolor pencils, and outlined it with a fine tip black marker. I think traced designs could be cut out and fused to fabric.

About the time I began my tracing cloth play, I found out that Betty Busby uses this stuff in her quilts. A friend took a class with her where students used this and Evolon. Busby has her students use a Silhouette Cameo machine to cut out original designs from these materials. Here are pieces Busby made that incorporate nonwovens.

“Buffalo Gourd’s” leaves are made of nonwoven material, and sewn onto hand painted silk.

Busby developed “Toupee The Turtle” to teach students how to use nonwoven material. It looks like the background is hand painted fabric.

There are numerous advantages of this material. It cuts easily, is washable, doesn’t fray, is fusible, can be sewn on, takes paint and marking tools well, and is translucent enough to trace designs onto it. You don’t get the drag of fabric when you use pencils or markers on it. Oh, did I mention it’s cheap?

I encountered a few disadvantages. The fabric paints I used didn’t dry to exceptionally intense colors but were more pastel. However, I diluted my paint, so full strength paint may give more color. I haven’t tried acrylic paint or dyes so I can’t speak to how well they do. Also, unless you can get opaque coverage from paint, any fabric used underneath 830 will show through a bit.

Busby’s work shows me I have lots more experimenting to do with this material. Lucky for me I have most of a bolt left.

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It Seemed Like A Good Idea

A few months ago I wrote about Wen Redmond’s book “Digital Fiber Art” and my confusion about how to proceed with her techniques. So I was glad to see steps to follow in her article in the latest Quilting Arts about how to transfer a photo to cloth. Of course I had to try out the technique.

I made my base fabric collage with scraps that included an old tee shirt mop up rag that had turned lovely pastel shades.

Then, I covered a black and white inkjet copy of a photo from my Around Here series with mat gel medium per the directions and rubbed it onto the fabric base.

Once that dried I moistened it and rubbed away the paper to (hopefully) leave the transfer print behind. At this point my results diverged from the instructions. Either too little or too much of the paper came off, so some of the edges were jaggedy. Maybe I didn’t apply enough gel medium. More important, the photo looked really dark.

I thought I could brighten it up with big stitches.

After three colors of perle cotton I decided it was still too dark, so I moved on to machine stitching. Then I got the bright idea to highlight the light areas with metallic paint.

That turned out way too garish, so I tried sanding the painted areas to tone them down. I found that gel medium stands up well to sanding with fine sandpaper. Unfortunately, it didn’t remove as much of the paint as I had hoped.

Right now my experiment resides in the drawer of shame. Lessons learned:

-choose a photo with a lot more light areas and just a few dark lines

-do a practice photo transfer before the one that counts

-remember that subtlety isn’t my strong point, and there’s a fine, but definite, line between subtle and dreary.

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