My last post was about fibre art I had made highlighting a piece of broken saucer from my Downton Abbey teapot set, and with 3 pieces remaining from the saucer, my plan was to create a series around this one theme.

I have now done just that, and was further inspired - and even surprised - by some discoveries I made while in the process of creating: 

As I progressed making this series, it began to feel less about the saucer fragments and more about studying the colour white. The fragments became part of the medium for this exploration, with the white of the saucer and textiles being dominant, a touch of black in the words and in the background for contrast and balanced with light browns or copper.

- A realization came to me as I reflected on all the art I have made in the last few years that my best works are the ones where I use only one colour (or colours within the same family) which becomes the dominant element, contrasting with just a bit of neutral or the complementary colour, and not those with multiple colours or with another element of design being dominant. 

- For the past couple of years I have consciously used line as the dominant element and I'm now noticing a shift to balance that with more quiet areas - smooth rather than full of line or texture. I like to use sew & slash as my technique choice, and think I now prefer to include just a bit of line. A little can go a long way, as they say. This is now allowing my one colour choice to sing.

My planning for this series included the selection of old tablecloths as the textile choice to fit the era of Downton Abbey. A comment came my way observing "the tension between the delicacy of the textiles with the sharpness of the shards". That was a perspective I had not thought of and yet fits. (Thanks!) Good to be reminded that the viewer may see things in our art we had not thought of.

- It's easy to make just one of something then move on to something different, thinking we'll get bored quickly by doing a series. Not so! In this case one idea led to another until I had ideas I wanted to try with all 4 fragments of the saucer. While the 4th idea did not work out, it led to more experimentation until I happened upon the answer, in this case including a small branch. I quite like the contrast of nature against the saucer and fabric..
After finishing this small series and preparing to start another using leftover floor tile fragments, I got stuck fairly quickly, not being happy with the compositions. Deciding to move on to a piece about an old door (I love that weathered look) seemed like a good idea, yet I again got stuck.

I realized then I needed to listen to my intuition which was guiding me to continue working in white. And so I have started a winter scene based on a photo taken while snowshoeing and I'm pleased to say I'm making good progress. I have many great winter photos and I think these are now leading to a whole series of "studies in white". Sometimes it's the struggle that matters, other times we just have to have trust in our intuition.

Stay tuned!

A broken saucer .... repurposed....

I broke the saucer part of my favourite teapot a few months ago, a Downton Abbey teapot my stepdaughter gave me a few years back. I fortunately still have the pot and bowl section intact and use them daily.

The saucer broke into 4 sections and could have been glued back together, but I choose instead to sit with the pieces, awaiting an answer on whether I should fix it or do something else.

I've been intrigued lately with using fragments in art. And realizing that my best art is usually monochromatic, it seemed right to create art using not just the saucer fragments, but also the colours in the fragment: white, black and a wee bit of tea stain.

A dig through my fabric stash revealed an old cotton tablecloth remnant, perfect for the backdrop. I added more layers from two other white-ish tablecloths, one rather lacey, so I could then sew & slash (faux chenille is my preferred technique). The bottom layer was from a black tablecloth, giving just the right amount of contrast.

The word "renewal" was coming to mind for this repurposed art, and so I printed out the word in a font I felt fit the style I was seeking, and pinned it onto the back of the fabric layers, then sewed around the letters. I have been slowly and carefully cutting through the layers from the front to reveal the word against the black on the back (it needs a bit more work but I'm getting there).

Having decided where to place the saucer fragment, my next challenge was to attach it to the fabric. Stone wrapping techniques seemed like a good idea but I was not happy with the result. In the end, I used Alene's Original Tacky Glue to attach the fragment, then once it dried I attempted some wrapping with copper coloured thread and a light tea-coloured cotton yarn that is used for warping a loom. A touch of gel medium on these threads to keep them in place was all that was needed to ensure the fragment was securely attached.

For a bit of embellishment and to finish sewing the fabric layers together, I sewed white on white lines, using a twin needle on my sewing machine. I'm new to using this type of needle and I love its potential. I then added 3 white dowels horizontally, repeating the lines in the cotton tablecloth. 

Lastly, I added a bit of black watercolour marker, enhancing the word "renewal" and, as I had not done any slashing, I chose to slash in only one spot to reveal the lacey tablecloth below. Any more than that, and the piece would become too busy. Simple yet meaningful was my objective.


I am very pleased with the result so far and with the colours and contrast. With 3 fragments left from the saucer, as well as some floor tile remnants, I hope to turn this into a new series and continue exploring the possibilities.



While listening to the singing during my sister's choir concert earlier this month, it was the harmony of voices that captured my attention the most: the blending of the 45 or so Tenor, Bass, Alto and Sopranos, accompanied by a pianist and, at times, by a young cellist. The cello added a richness to the music, an element I didn't realize was missing until I heard the passion of its tones. 

Together these added up to some powerful expressions, seemingly so simple when combined, yet very dynamic, creating music that resonated with me, touching my soul, allowing me to be focused on the present moment.

If only were that easy to create harmony in our visual art. Yet I know this choir spent a few months learning the pieces and practicing for their concert. And they perhaps struggled at times, just as visual artists do with our compositions. Sometimes creating art comes together quickly, other times it can take months before it's ready to present to the world. 

I realized during the performance that I had gotten away from playing music while I create my fibre art. And yet the playing of music can be an instrument to help us express our vision. It adds to our concentration, and stimulates both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It has the power to enhance our creative practice. 

This was a topic I researched while pursuing a certificate in the expressive arts therapies several years back. 

The style of music we play is what matters when we are creating. Rock music, for example, stirs up passions and energy which could be reflected in our art through striking colour, large brush strokes, or strong contrasts. Salsa encourages movement and dance in our creations, impressionistic music invites a free-flow style, drumming can lead us to mimic the rhythm and repetition, while big band music and country can stir up memories which we then reflect in our art. Music without vocals is best so we are not distracted by the lyrics.

Below is a sample of just one playlist I like to listen to while working on my art, intended to enhance creativity by focusing on right brain activities.


Music has the ability to relax the mind, leaving us open to visual expressions and focus. It enhances our self-expression, our capacity to learn, and helps us clarify thoughts and feelings. Google The Mozart Effect if you'd like more information and to find out more about studies that have been done about music and creativity. 

In the meantime, I'd love to hear what music you listen to and find enhances your creative practice.

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Artivism: The Power of Art for Social Transformation

It's been several weeks since I've written a blog post. I think I needed a break from writing then I got busy with other projects and activities while enjoying the autumn months.

But there is one event I wanted to mention: I was honoured earlier this month to make a presentation as part of an Artivism initiative by Adelphi University in New York. They have been arranging a series of guest speaker presentations that demonstrate how the arts can make a difference in creating awareness and for social change. The presentations cover not only visual arts, but also music, performance, community projects and many other initiatives. There are presentations via Zoom most Mondays, and are uploaded to their YouTube page afterwards.

My topic as part of this initiative was Embracing the Natural Art Around us for Self-Reflection and Personal Growth. in which I speak about my how my art represents timeworn and weathered objects around us, both in nature and manmade, and how it can help us find connections and create opportunities for self-reflection, growth and gratitude.

I think it went well, and my friends tell me they gained insight into the meanings behind my art. I invite you to watch the presentation at the link above. I'm pleased that I've had lots of opportunities for public speaking over the last year - all that practice definitely helps. And it really is easier to speak to an audience when it's a subject we are passionate about.

I was referred to this Artivism initiative by my good friend, international tapestry weaver Krystyna Sadej, who made a presentation on Art Made of Recyclable Materials. hHr husband, Andrzej, Paralympic Head Coach and Coaching & Education Director with Judo Canada, will be presenting on Monday, November 21, on Social transformation in the art of judo by developing a program adaptable for the visually impaired, alongside his athlete, Priscilla. Krystyna's daughter, Katarzyna Sadej, international opera and concert and classically trained mezzo-soprano, spoke this past spring about her Earth Singing Project

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You've heard the saying, I'm sure, and perhaps seen this visual:

This definitely applies to creating art. And as a fibre artist, we have an abundance of techniques and materials to choose from.

At the recent DRAW art retreat hosted by CPAWS (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Ottawa Valley Chapter), a paddle maker had donated small paddles that could be used as backgrounds for our art. The idea was to paint on them or collage or use whatever technique we wanted to make something artistic, then return the completed paddle to CPAWS to sell at fundraisers.

I opted to take one, thinking I would collage some of my sun printed leaves onto the blade of the paddle. 

But after experimenting with this idea and possible layouts, I decided the results were not as dynamic as I had envisioned. I instead settled on trying an image transfer using one of my photos taken during the retreat.

To prepare, I sealed the wood of the paddle, chose my photo and printed it on a laser printer. But after doing the image transfer, which incidentally I had done successfully in the past, I wasn't satisfied with the results.

It didn't fit my original concept of something simple yet impactful. In hindsight, I should have chosen an image with better contrast and not nearly as much detail - while I could envision this particular image on the paddle, in reality it didn't work as it was too busy. I would have spent hours adding paint to strengthen the transferred image. Collaging the photo may have been a better approach...

My next thought was to be true to the technique which has become my voice these days: sew 'n slash. I therefore decided to sew a Jack Pine tree which I could mount onto the blade. For the background, I would need to paint over the image transfer and up the shaft and grip to create a sky, adding a few clouds here and there on the shaft. 

While the subject and sky felt right, the sewing didn't. It was the smallness of the branches needing to be sewn then slashed that was bothering me. It was too fiddly, and I just wasn't feeling up to playing with that kind of small detail.

The tree trunk however could be made using this technique - and I had fabrics in mind that would give just the right texture for the trunk. That left the branches for the tree. These could be made through through needle felting. I don't often do needle felting these days, but I have the tools and lots of rovings in the right colours. 

So here it is, just about finished. I'll sit with it for a few more days than finish by varnishing the painted parts with a matte varnish. I think I've hit on the right combination of techniques and materials this time. It fits my original vision, and I love that it has a bit of dimension to it. It has the uncomplicated look I was seeking.

Why am I sharing all this with you?

Because, as fibre artists, we have such a wide range of possible techniques and possible materials we can access to make our art. There is no one right technique for any of us, and no one right material. We may have an initial vision but it is rarely a straight line that takes us from start to finish.

We meander. We audition colours or fabrics or even techniques. We may give one or two a try to see if the results fit with what we envisioned. This can be frustrating for some - but it's an important part of the creative process. Sometimes it means one step forward, two steps back. 

To draw an analogy, writers - of fiction, non fiction, songs, music et al - never complete a piece without making changes. They revisit, edit, rewrite, revision again and again until they are happy with their artistic creation.

As visual artists - whether through fibre, paint, collage, mixed media, sculpture, et al - we need to keep that in mind. After all, what works today, may be the right answer for something tomorrow.

Happy creating!


Preparing for the DRAW camp earlier this month, I had anticipated being able to start a new piece of fibre art each (or most) days and being "immersed" in making art all week. This was partly based on my plan to focus only small 6x6 samplers, not large pieces, as I would be doing all the stitching by hand, I had even prepared by cutting up many fabric pieces as I would not know what colours I would need until I was at camp.

The reality was quite different from what I expected.

Most days included an organized outing or sometimes just 2 or 3 of us: a hike up a mountain, a talk by a local canoeist and expert on the area's history (Wally Schaber, author of The Last of the Wild Rivers), the Grand Chutes area, the historic trail along the river, bogs and ponds, a canoe day. The idea behind these was to learn about the area, see the scenes, experience local nature, learn of the history and measures to protect this as a wilderness area and, of course, to be inspired in our artmaking.

Several of the artists had been on this retreat in previous years. They appeared to have a good idea what they wanted to focus on, spots they wanted to visit again, scenes they wanted to capture in paint or on camera.

For those of us who were attending this retreat for the first time, we needed to see all that was on offer, and to then be able to decide what to work on. I found for the first 5 days I wasn't focused on creating. Rather I wanted to be immersed in my surroundings as I walked and explored the spectacular views, the magic of the trail, the colourful mushrooms, the discarded and rusted metal implements, even the frog and spider webs at the beach.

I came across a quote by Julia Cameron recently (best known as author of The Artist Way) in her book, The Vein of Gold:

"We speak of "food for thought" but seldom realize that as artists we need thought for food. Walking, with its constant inflow of new images, gives us new thoughts that nourish us. It replenishes our overtapped creative well and gives us a sense of ... well, wellness." 

Very true, I think, and especially important on this trip.

And of course spending time with the other artists and the CPAWS staff talking, getting to know each other, learning about each other's art, bonding were an important part of our process. Meal times, doing dishes, power naps, cooling off in the lake were also a big part of our day, as well as time around the campfire to catch up and share, before retiring to our tents for much needed sleep in preparation for the following day.

While I did get 3 art pieces started, my focus was on capturing (over 350) photos on my camera and making thumbnail sketches and notes about my impressions, materials I could use, colours and textures, even an embellishment technique or two. All this has helped me sort out what I want my focus to be as a result of this experience.

I've now identified 15 or 16 possible pictures to make. The 3 pieces started at the camp are now finished. And I have begun the step in the creative process of gathering materials for a the next 2 or 3.

If I do go back to this retreat next year - and right now I think I'd like to - I'll have a clearer focus of what to work on. And I may be able to pare down my creative process while I'm there. 

As a final note, there were 2 books several of us found to be of great benefit in helping us identify many of the plant life in the area: Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada and Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada. I already had one, and now own both.

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One of my goals at the DRAW (Dumoine River Art for Wilderness Retreat) was to experiment more with sun printing - but before I get to that I wanted to share one of the pieces I finished this week based on a portion of rock canyon wall along the rapids of the Dumoine River and the reference photo I have been working from. 

This has 5 layers of fabric (upholstery material, organza, tulle, cotton, and felt) sewn together, then slashed, working as an ensemble. The slashed parts represent the crevices in the rocks, other areas are cut back to reveal the variation of rock colours and erosion. I added modified French knots to intensify the crevices and build contrast, and French knots in green where plants were thriving on this rock wall. A small sparkly stone also made its way into this art piece, and a hint of metallic gray and white paints to further enhance some areas of the rocks. 

I have several more pieces planned using similar layering and embellishing techniques, based on these photographs from the trip (and more not pictured here):

But now, on to the sun printing and what I learned:

  • I've been working mostly on mineral paper (paper made from rocks by Yasutomo Inc.), quickly becoming my favourite background to print on with good results so far. I have also been experimenting with old cotton fabric, birch bark, and Yupo paper.
  • My experiments with birch bark prior to the retreat worked out well, but not so well at camp. Both times I soaked the bark in water for an hour. The difference is that at home I ironed the pieces between layers of parchment which stopped the edges from curling and the paint from pooling. At camp, although I tried clamping the bark to a backing board using clothespins, it still insisted on keeping its curls and waves. 
Birch leaves on birch bark
  • With some very hot weather at camp, my painted fabrics and bark dried too quickly and I did not have a spray bottle with me to mist the materials. Some of the prints failed, others were not as bright as expected. The mineral paper however seemed to march to the beat of its own drummer: even though the paper appeared dry, upon lifting the leaves I discovered a fair bit of liquid remaining, drying only after removal of the leaves.  
  • Fern fronds, maple leaves and sumac leaves have consistently worked well on all the surfaces I tried. Others I tested at camp included milkweed, birch, sweet woodruff, and sweet fern, with only the sweet fern giving good results. Thin and freshly cut leaves really do seem to adhere the best on the background. At some point I will test ironed and frozen leaves too. 
  • Natural inks yielded interesting results, especially on Yupo paper. I wasn't pleased with the ink on the birch bark, so overprinted with paint after returning home. Good to know this option can work. 
Printed using a natural ink, then overprinted with soft body paint and fresh leaves
Indigo ink on Yupo paper

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I have returned home inspired from a week in the wilderness with a group of like-minded, nature loving artists. Waterfalls, lichens, mushrooms, loons, rocks, hikes, swims, time spent creating and capturing the scenery on canvas or camera. A beautiful environment to explore ideas, experiment and create, in a very supportive environment. 

Lac Penniseault
It was a week of inspiring the senses: not just plants and landscapes, but also patterns and reflections; the sounds of loons and their babies, the roaring of the rapids, tent zippers, crackling campfire; the scents of clear air and pine trees; the feel of sand and rocks underfoot and of cooling off in the lake; the taste of local spring water, supper cooked over the fire.

Lac Penniseault - view from the camp

We were 15 artists, spending a total of 7 days together camping in the wilderness of Quebec, thanks to our sponsor, CPAWS (Canada Parks and Wilderness, Ottawa Valley Chapter), at their 5th artist residency, Dumoine River Art for Wilderness Retreat (DRAW). We camped in a beautiful setting with a large area for tents, a campfire pit, deck, eating areas, and a beach 66 stairsteps away (and of course 66 back up). A small barn and woods were ours to explore, finding many old rusted garden and cooking implements and scrap metal pieces, some of which we removed in an effort to clean up the area, but also inspired by the potential of these relics for our own artistic creations. Our disciplines included painters, photographers, a felter, fibre artist, a sculptor, even a sound artist.  

The highlight was visits to the Grand Chutes along the Dumoine River, with its roaring rapids, rocks, and towering trees. The trail along the river offered up a surprising number and variety of lichens, mosses and mushrooms. The feel of the area was magical, leaving us wondering if this was the world in which faeries live. The Dumoine is a protected wilderness area in the province of Quebec, and one which needs to be protected from further climate change and biodiversity loss. 

Dumoine River

Trail along the Dumoine River. Could faeries live here?

I have well over 350 photographs from this trip, including an excursion we took up a mountain where a new hiking trail is being forged, and of wildlife and an abandoned building nearby. We fortunately did not see any bears or wolves or moose.

Blueberry Mountain
I have lots of plans in my head for making fibre art pictures from this adventure, including 3 I started during the trip. I was also able to spend time experimenting with more sun printing on fabric, paper and birch bark, testing leaves I had not tried before with varying results. These too will somehow get incorporated into art. I was delighted when some of the artists asked to learn this technique - below is a shirt one artist decided to print on - a synthetic material that actually turned out quite well.
Sun Printing

Sun Printing on Birch Bark
My idea bucket is now very full. I am inspired. We had time to create, time together inspiring and sharing, also time alone to reflect, think, journal and work on our art. And each of us will be creating and donating a piece of art based on the area to help raise awareness of the importance of protecting our parks and wilderness areas.


Once accepted into the artist residency starting this month, I had to figure out what art supplies I would bring. This planning is critical as there is limited space to store items at art camp, and no electricity. On days we hike in to a location, everything I need has to fit into a backpack - including my lunch, water bottles, and rain gear.

I typically work by layering fabrics, machine sewing them together then slashing, deconstructing, distressing. Not knowing what colours, types and textures, threads or embellishments I would need on this trip would normally mean hauling a large variety. I won't know what I want to focus on until I get there and explore. The choices are endless: tree bark, lichen, plants, river rapids, rock formations, wildlife, ruins, even the rusted metal equipment in a local abandoned farm. My sewing machine will obviously not be coming with me, an integral part of my process, so hand stitching the layers of fabric together is the plan, a time-consuming step in the creation of fibre art.

Hence I decided making small samples on the trip would make the most sense, supplemented by sketches and photos. Larger pieces can then be made once I'm back home and based on my reference material. This means I also need to pack a sketchbook, watercolour and graphite pencils and erasers. I can add details in writing beside my sketches to record my impressions and feelings, and capture senses such as smells, touch, sound and of course, sight. All this will help me choose the right textures and colours later on as I interpret my impressions into my art.

I have now made a few samples in advance of the trip to ensure I have the right supplies and know what techniques will work with minimum fuss. 6"x6" seemed like a good size. I tested both running stitch and basting - this latter one is definitely faster, and I can supplement it with a bit of fabric glue between layers along the stitch lines for added strength. The 3 samples below are based on these methods and from photos I took recently of tree bark and wood, the first with Tyvek to represent lichen, the 2nd to capture the yellow of the wood,  and the 3rd with some fallen birch bark included - very easy to stitch through as I discovered.

I have now cut up a variety of fabric colours and weights that I'll be able to choose from, all 6x6, taking up only minimal space in my backpack. Threads, scissors, needles, embellishments all fit into a small toolbox.  Even some Tyvek, already painted, layered with organza and heat distressed, as I won't be able to use my heat gun or iron at the camp. 

I also plan to experiment more with more sun printing, foraging for local leaves and flowers. This means additional paper and fabric, plus paints and brushes. Taking rubbings of textures on rocks and trees is another item. And perhaps finding some natural mark making tools to play with. 

The list of supplies is growing. But I figure sun printing will be done at camp only and not on day trips so I won't have to haul my paints or larger papers on those days. 

Fortunately there will be generator on site, so I can charge both my camera and phone at night so I can take lots of reference photos each day. (There is no cell service at our camp).

Lastly, I also plan to journal about my experiences and impressions each day, what I am learning, experiments, what the other artists are working on, and whatever else comes up. I suspect there will be several good stories to share. 

Check back in a couple of weeks when I have returned from this artistic adventure. 


Yupo paper is a synthetic made from polypropylene - it's waterproof, very smooth, tree-free and well known for its use with alcohol inks and watercolours and dry media too, recyclable, and considered an environmentally friendly substrate. It comes in white and translucent. It's often used in product packaging, as banners, menus, signs, waterproof maps and more. 

Although I had briefly tried Yupo paper a few years back, it's only now that I'm really beginning to experiment with it.

Alcohol inks are the most popular mediums used on Yupo - google "Yupo paper", and alcohol inks will come up multiple times. Markers work great too, as do watercolours. The inks and paints flow around on the paper, it's important to let the paints do what they want and not try to control them too much. A fixative should be used with paint to protect your final "painting"

But what about uses in fibre art? Here is what I have tried so far:
  • Sewing - very easy by hand and with my sewing machine
  • Sun printing - in this experiment I used Pebeo setacolour inks (see post here for more info on sun printing)

  • Metallic transfer foil - using glue and an iron - the heat causes the Yupo paper to ripple, an effect that could be favorable depending on the outcome you are seeking

  • I also tried sewing Tyvek fabric to the Yupo, then used a craft heat gun to distress the Tyvek. The heat created wonderful wrinkles as well as melting in some areas (be sure to do this outside so you are not breathing in any fumes from the Yupo). 

  • A soldering iron was next - I found some interesting pictures on Pinterest of Yupo painted with alcohol inks and using a soldering iron to make holes of varying sizes.  The picture below was just a quick experiment to make a few small holes and determine how much control I would have over the sizes of the holes (as above, be sure to use the soldering iron outside or a mask to protect yourself from any fumes).

  • Yupo paper can be easily folded - its strength provides potential for book arts, or maybe even pop-up cards. This could be fun to play with.
I also found an example of a basket made with Yupo, in an interview between the World of Threads Festival in Toronto and a basket maker. Scroll about halfway down to see her diagonal twill basket called "Onyx", created using only Yupo paper, acrylic paint, and waxed linen thread. (All her other baskets were made using watercolour paper.) I like that she commented in the interview that she consistently asks herself "If I do X, what will be the result?"

We are just beginning to tap into the potential of this paper, I think, as fibre artists. I purchased a pad of the translucent, rather than white, and plan to begin using some in my art in the coming weeks. Results to follow.


When I decided to try sun printing in preparation for my upcoming artist residency, I found many sites with only brief instructions, and only a couple with more detailed information on possible surfaces and paints. Thus began my experimenting, as I wrote about in last week's blog post

So, for those who wish more than just the basics, here is the step-by-step process, and some of the tips & tricks I learned along the way.


  • Materials to print on:
    • A light coloured cotton fabric works very well. I tried other surfaces such as old sheets, linen, felt, cotton rag paper, watercolour paper, rice paper, brown paper bags, mineral paper (the blue print shown here at the right was done on mineral paper), and other papers I had on hand. Experiment with whatever materials you have available as each gives a different effect.
  • Acrylic or fabric paints
    • Liquitex soft body acrylics and Pebeo Setacolour light paints (transparent paints) were highly recommended for this technique. Other paints may work, but I have not tried them. 
  • Sponge brushes or paint brushes
  • 3 water containers (margarine tub size is fine)
    • 1 to rinse brushes
    • a 2nd for clean water to add to your paint
    • a 3rd for wetting fabrics  
  • Flat surface for your paper or fabric, and on which to leave your sun prints to dry (not wood - as the wood will absorb some of the water from your fabric or paper)
  • Materials for the printing - leaves, stencils, heavy objects - these need to adhere well to your fabric or paper
  • Prepare your paint: it needs to be diluted with water at about a 1:1 ratio so it flows well. I mix just a little bit of paint at a time as it goes a long way. Paper cups or a watercolour paint tray works well. 
  • Wet your fabric in a bowl of water and squeeze out excess. Lay flat on your surface and try to eliminate air pockets. If using paper, brush on water in both directions, ensuring it is well saturated. Papers such as brown paper bag absorb a lot of water, so it's best to dip it into the bowl of water, scrunch, squeeze out excess water, then lay out. If it's not wet enough, the paper will  dry too quickly. The scrunching effect can leave some lovely lines on your surface.
Brown Paper Bag - wet and scrunched prior to adding paint.
This gave a slightly mottled background with faint lines, an effect I quite like. 

Other surfaces, such as this Tyvek envelope do not absorb water - the thinned paint will sit on top. A little paint will go a long way.

  • Try using a mordant (optional) - I dipped some of my fabrics in a rust mordant after wetting. Does it make a difference? I have not yet tested that, but it may alter the final colour slightly. I also tried dipping leaves in the mordant. 
  • Paint your surface with 1 or 2 colours - I like to pour on just a bit of paint then spread it out. A little can go a long way. You'll find different paint colours will give you different results, so experiment with various colours, and mixing colours.
Try unusual materials like birch bark - soak first for about 30 minutes.
In this example I used Liquitex soft body acrylic paint. 

  • Press the leaves or stencil onto your surface, making sure the edges have good adherence. The better the contact, the sharper the lines will be. You could also try objects like old washers or bolts.
  • Place in the sun and let dry for 1-2 hours. I had to mist a few pieces, but they likely were not wet enough to start. The printing also seems to work on cloudy days so I'm not actually sure how important it is to be directly in the sun.
  • Once dry, remove the leaves or stencils and other objects.
  • Record your results - otherwise you may not remember what paint or objects worked on what type of material.
  • Heat setting is next - fabric can be put in the dry on high for 1 hour - or can be ironed on the back side between layers of parchment). Paper can be ironed too, between layers of parchment. Hand washing of fabric may be needed if there is excess paint and if it's for an item that will be worn or for pillow cases or placements. I have yet to iron any of my pieces, rather I have let them sit for a week first. And since I used Tyvek for a couple of my experiments, I won't be heat setting it, since it reacts to heat.  
    This red and yellow one was on Tyvek fabric using Liquitex soft body acrylics and fern-like leaves - it turned out absolutely fabulous. We typically use some kind of heat (and often stitching) on Tyvek, which will significantly change the look. Not sure I'm ready to try that just yet. I'll wait to decide what to do with this sample.

The fun with this technique is the experimenting - and taking risks with various materials. 
Next I need to figure out what I'm going to do with all my samples. I will be doing more testing at my upcoming artist residency later this month....

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My last post was about fibre art I had made highlighting a piece of broken saucer from my Downton Abbey teapot set, and with 3 pieces remai...