Friday, 21 October 2011

Oriental piece 1 - making the background

 I've made a start on the first piece which is going to be based on a Japanese lacquered box at Snowshill Manor  I visited there a while ago and there's some images on the link of the Samurai warriors and other bits and pieces.

The background fabric is going to be dark, so I set about making it yesterday.

First: gathering useful bits!
 This is magic sponge which I first came across here.  (I think they still sell it on their website if you can't find it locally.)

You simply cut your shape in the dry foam which looks like card, and then dip it into water, and giggle when it swells into a sponge!  You can have lots of fun amusing children with this.
 I have my shape cut out of foam and am ready to stamp onto some plain white cloth.

I mix my paints (fabric paint in this case-the piece was too small to warrant rummaging around in the garage for my dyeing stuff!) onto disposable palette papers. This is because I hate washing up painty things so it saves me some bother. When you've finished you simply tear off the top sheet and put it into the bin.  (buy the ones for acrylic paints as they can stand the water - the ones in the picture are for oils and they tend to buckle)
 Beginning to stamp. I've used a ruler because I feel a grid needs to be fairly accurate or it doesn't look so good.
 The stamping is finished.  I've used a mixture of black, navy, and maroon with a hint of turquoise, which will be the main colour of the finished piece.
 After the fabric paint was fixed with an iron, I then decided to cover the squares with soya wax. (I have seen this sold as soy wax and soya wax and I'm not quite sure if they have the same uses so you might like to check first)
 When the wax was dry, I crumpled it to give cracks in the surface. 
 I then painted the whole cloth with a mixture of the black and blue. The dark paint seeps into the cracks in the wax and adds a bit of random colour to the squares.
 I needed to fix the fabric paint before washing, or I might have lost the colour, so I ironed the cloth before washing the soya wax out.

The ironing board has several sheets of newspaper on it to absorb the melting wax, and I used baking parchment on top to protect the iron.

The cloth was then washed at about 60 degrees to get rid of the wax, and the result is below.

Although I love the effect of this, it's not nearly dark enough for my plan, so I will revert to dyes, and will overdye with black, or I will keep it as a backing, and start the front again.

It's fun to play and see what happens though!


  1. I love to see the way you develop your quilts. I am coming up to Leamington Spa to see your exhibition Through Our Hands in December- cant wait!!

  2. What about building the layers of colour up like all those layers of lacquer?

  3. Thanks Sharne!

    Mags: that's a jolly good idea, thank you. I'll try it and see what happens. The only advantage of dye is that I can remove colour if it gets too dark, but hey, it's small, there's nothing to lose!! Will let you know the outcome.

  4. Thanks to Facebook I have just found you. I love your 'portrait' quilt from FoQ and have left a comment there, but I also love this technique for a background cloth.

    Another way to get a good grid is to block the fabric with masking tape and then sponge on the paint. I had great fun with son No 1 doing this using silk organza!

    I love this background though. Really stunning. I look forward to following it's progress.