Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Textile Art Tips

Background : Today is Tuesday -  Tag day. I belong to a very talented group of artists who weekly produce a small work of art as a tag. We post photos of our tags  on the Tag Tuesday blog.  Currently our theme is alphabet, and we each could decide on our own sub-theme. I chose Australian plants and each of my tags is an experiment with a textile art technique. Here are February's tags and a brief  descriptions of the techniques used. 

Technique 1 :  Heliographic Art (Sun Painting)  as in the photo above - close up of Tag E . When special sun/light sensitive paints are applied to wet fabric where objects have been placed on top, the outlines and shapes of the objects are transferred to the fabric. In this example I placed dried Eucalypt (gum tree) leaves on top  a piece of originally white cotton painted with yellow and orange" Setacolor" transparent paints and left it in the sun for about an hour. I then cut one of the leaves out and appliqued it to a piece of felt, and then stitched it  raised, on to  the sun printed piece. I also printed the letter by cutting our a cardboard E and placing it on the painted fabric. To complete the look of  the real leaves,  I made some random patterns with a permanent marker and softened the effect by dabbing the marks with alcohol ( rubbing alcohol , purchased from the pharmacy) 

Tag E : sun painting 
 Technique 2 : Decolourant  Tag F , Ficus macrophylla ( Moreton Bay Fig) is made from hand yed cotton fabric. I drew the outline of a fig tree with buttress roots onto freezer paper and with a scalpel, cut out the tree and roots to make a stencil. I ironed the stencil onto the fabric and then painted decolourant through the stencil. The result was a "whitened" tree shape. With another  layer of fabric as backing, I stitched around the outline and using a trapunto quilting technique, I cut slits in the back of various sections of the root area, and stuffed some of the roots to make them raised and in the foreground. I also applied black water soluble crayon and marker to create the appearance of shadows and markings on the tree trunk. 
Tag F : decolourant 

Technique 3 : Natural watermark and  Permanent Markers and Alcohol.  Marking with alcohol is probably my favourite textile art technique, first learnt from Sherrill Kahn - drawing with permanent markers and dabbing or dripping with alcohol, as already described.  I use this technique a lot with other textile art techniques. For tag G - Grevillea, I cut a flower stem from a shrub in my garden, and hammered it on to white cotton fabric. This is literal - I flatten the flower and stem with a roller and then, placing a piece of plastic on top of the specimen, I use a hammer to release the colour. The colour and shape of the grevillea stem are transferred to the fabric, a bit like a watermark. For this tag, I then very quickly drew rough outlines in red, green and yellow, brushed it all over with alcohol, ironed it to set, and then a few straight machine stitches to emphasise the flower tendrils give a passable Grevillea impression. 

Tag G : Permanent markers/Alcohol 
Tag D : Fusing Fabric 

Technique 4: Fusing Fabric. If you like working with sheer fabrics, then this is the technique for you. 
It is very simple - layers of organza, fused together by making "marks" with a soldering iron. The Dryandra flower is created from  five  layers of organza, soldered /fused together and free form over stitched , with frayed edges.  The serrated leaves were very quickly made by layering three pieces of organza over a piece of acrylic felt and cutting out the leaves. The centre line was done first to fuse the organza and the felt, by placing a metal ruler down, and running the soldering iron along the edge of the ruler. Warning : Try this only in the open air, or wearing a mask. The fumes can be overwhelming. And be careful a soldering iron can get very hot and you are literally " burning" fabric when you use this technique. But it's fun! 

Hope these explanations might inspire you to experiment, too or at least have a look at Tag Tuesday 


  1. Hi Wilma, I popped in to have a look at your blog. What a fabulous, vibrant page! I am finding your lovely Australian plant tags very interesting.Can't wait to read more of your blog now!
    See you on Tag Tuesday,
    Jane x

  2. Love these tags Wilma.Nice to hear from you again.I lost m,y blog a year ago, and that meant starting all over again.

  3. Love your work Wilma....so beautiful. Thought I would play with your ideas today with what's left of the foliage in my garden.


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